- Sara Mann
Forgiving My First Doctor.
I don't know about everyone else, but I use to have this idea that doctors knew everything. You just go to the doctor, tell them your problem, they know the answer and vwhala, HEALED! Going through recovery has taught me the hard lesson that not only do doctors not know everything, they are human beings that are fallible and while I've found that some may struggle with pride, hopefully, most of the time, they are just trying to do their best.
Right now I'm on a path of trying to forgive my first doctor. I know I'm not the only one out there that believes their doctor did them dirty. I feel like my doctor should have known better, she told me the wrong thing, and ignored the symptoms. Now, to be clear, I don't think it was intentional, but it happened none the less and I now have bitterness in my heart about it and it is causing a lot of problems with me currently, so I have to work through it and forgive.
So what happened? I started treatment back in late 2015. I went to a doctor and this doctor ran tests and she diagnosed me with anorexia and bulimia non-purging (over-exercise). She told me to go on some supplements, to re-feed, get more tests, go to a treatment center for a dietitian and therapist and so on and so forth. (this is the extremely condensed version haha!) I listened to EVERYTHING this doctor said. I wanted to recover. I was told that my weight would go up a little, it would stop and then slowly come back down and all of this would happen within two years maaaaybe three. So I accepted this and embarked on the recovery. Then things started to not go so well. I started vomiting every time I ate. I was swelling excessively and rapidly gaining weight far past what was normal. Every day I would swell so bad I looked pregnant and my whole body was in pain if you touched me. I felt awful every single day. I had no energy and could barely even function. I would go into the doctor, tell her my problems and she would just say, keep eating, give it time, it will go away.
So I trusted her. Month after month we would have the same conversation and month after month she would dismiss my urgency that something was wrong. Finally after two years of this I realized I wasn't getting better. I was still swelling, still gaining weight, still in major pain and this doctor was not helping me. I think the major problem I had with this doctor was not only was she not helping me she was being down right rude about it. I would complain about my swelling and she would say it was in my head. I would complain about my weight and how I have NEVER in my life been this heavy and she said it was my anorexia talking and I need to work with my therapist on my body image issues. Any time I discussed going to see a specialist she would get angry that I would challenge her expertise. She would try and throw medication at me and if I asked what it was specifically for she couldn't give me a real explanation as to how it was going to help my swelling, pain or weight. I started to feel like I was just throwing money at someone every other month and not actually getting any better.
The problem with all of this is I kind of lost myself during my recovery, so for a long time I forgot that I am a grown woman who can go to another doctor if I want to. My dietitian at the time found a specialist for me to go to and I decided to go for it! Within two months of seeing this new specialist my swelling had gone down substantially, my energy had returned massively and I felt like an entirely new person. In fact, I started to feel like myself again! I've started to be able to work out again and my weight, even though it's glacial, has starting to go back down again.
So what exactly is the problem and why do I need to forgive my first doctor? Well, first of all, I put a lot of trust in my first doctor and nothing she said would happen ended up happening. This has caused me to not be able to put any trust in my new doctor. My new doctor will tell me that my weight will return to normal, and I have zero ability to believe this because of what happened with my old doctor. I have a, "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me" type of mentality. So I am afraid to believe this doctor because I don't want to get my hopes up like I did with the last one. What's sad is all the facts add up that I can trust my new doctor, but because of what happened the past, I just deep down can't and it's a bad feeling when no matter how hard I try, I just can't seem trust again.
Another reason I need to forgive my first doctor is because she missed a lot of things that could have saved me from a lot of pain, made my recovery end faster and probably also saved me from gaining a substantial amount of this weight as well as some other medical complications that have shown up had she done more tests and listened to me. I'm stuck now feeling like I have a body that is in really bad shape and had things been caught earlier I wouldn't be in as bad of a situation as I am in now and it's NOT because I didn't complain or say something to my doctor, it's because she dismissed the things I was saying. If she had ran simple tests she would have seen the deficiencies. If she would have paid attention to the symptoms I was talking about instead of dismissing them as my "eating disorder" she would have seen there was a major problem going on.
So, I'm angry. I'm REALLY angry at my first doctor. I had years of pain and health issues and weight gain that could have been avoided had she paid more attention to what I was saying and treated me correctly. Now I feel like I have to repair the damage that was done in recovery and it has prolonged everything even longer which has really had an impact on my quality of life, my work, my marriage, everything!
Here's the thing, I don't know why this happened. On an angry day I think my first doctor was neglectful and arrogant. I remember times she laughed at me and made me feel stupid when I cried about what was going on with my body. I remember when she laughed at what I was wearing because it was too big but I wore it because I was uncomfortable with my new larger body. I think she was prideful and couldn't get over herself to maybe sit back and admit she didn't know what to do and maybe advise me to seek out another doctor. I have angry days a lot. .Whenever I get sick of taking a ton of pills. Whenever I look in the mirror and don't recognize myself because of my weight. Whenever I remember how much weight I need to lose to go back to normal. Whenever my energy crashed so hard and I feel left out because I'm out of shape and still sick. These days I get angry. These are the days I don't think I could every forgive my first doctor and all I want to do is write her an angry letter about her neglect.
Then there are other days when I'm not as emotional and I'm able to sit back and think a little more clearly. Yes, I'm angry. Yes, I do think that this doctor wasn't great, but did she do this on purpose? Probably not. Was she arrogant? Yes. Was she prideful? Yes. Is this ALL her fault? No. I have to remember that my doctor is human. She isn't perfect. Maybe the care she gave me WAS her best and my case was just a little harder and she just didn't know what to do. Could she have said she didn't know and sent me to someone who did? Yes. But she didn't. Do I have it in me to extend some grace to her about it? Yes. Doctors are not magicians. They don't know EVERYTHING. I can also take responsibility and say I could have left a lot earlier. Sure, I had no idea what was going on and I trusted her, but I also knew things were a bit off and maybe I trusted a little too long.
I know I need to forgive my first doctor. I need to forgive her because it's infecting my heart and my mind and my ability to move forward with my treatment. Isn't there some sort of saying out there about how not forgiving someone hurts me more then it hurts them? I've already allowed my lack of forgiveness towards her to seep into bitterness and it's just not a good look for me. It's keeping me from trusting my new doctor and also keeping me from having hope that I will fully return to the happy and healthy Sara that I want to be. I no longer want to live in this angry place of the past. Sitting and crying because this happened to me and feeling like it's all someone else's fault for not catching it earlier needs to end. It's time to move forward. It's time to forgive my first doctor. Whether she did her best or didn't, I need to move on. I need to remember my new doctor is not my old doctor. I am wiser now. I understand more now. I AM healing and things ARE getting better! So for accountability I'm going to say this......
To my first doctor. I forgive you! I realize now that you are human. I am going to choose to believe you did your best. Thank you for getting me to enter treatment. In a way you saved my life and for that I am forever grateful. I pray that God blesses your practice and you continue to learn and grow as a doctor.
- Sara -