I get why people self medicate, avoid hospitals, doctor offices, etc. Lately they do not seem to be of much help. People do not want to go out of their way to find answers, think outside the box or treat the individual before them as a human being. Now, I am not saying everyone in the medical profession is like this, but I am saying that I run into this more frequently than I care to mention.
Let’s take today for example. I have Myasthenia Gravis (weakness and rapid fatigue of voluntary muscles for which there is no cure, but treatments). I called my neurologist today because I was experiencing shortness of breath while resting. There is a test we can do called the Single Breath Count (SBC) that can gauge the respiratory function. One would count out loud after maximal inspiration. If you are able to reach 50 you are said to be of “normal respiratory function.” Less than 15 indicates respiratory weakness. My count was at 18.
I left a message with reception that I needed a call back because I was experiencing shortness of breath and had an sbc of 18.
I received that call back in a decent amount of time. I was informed my Dr was not in and neither was his assistant. The young woman on the phone asked me “who ordered the test?”
“It’s an SBC, not a CBC.”
“What is that?”
At this point I am beginning to lose my patience.
“It’s a test that measures breathing for Myasthenia.”
“Oh, yah, gotcha.”
“Well the doctor is out today you will have to call back tomorrow.”
Wait- what? Did I just hear this right? I’m calling with a breathing issue and she’s telling me to call back tomorrow? That’s like a person calling suicide prevention and putting them on hold!
“Are you serious”? I ask her.
“Yes, your doctor is out today, call back tomorrow.”
So, I went and self medicated. I took 5 mg extra of Prednisone. It’s an anti-inflammatory and can help with breathing issues. It’s risky for me because it will elevate my blood sugar numbers.
Here’s my concern; where is the empathy? Ok, not even that. Where is the patient care? How about finding another neurologist to help? How about calling a neurologist? How about doing something besides doing nothing? This is a life that is on the other end of the line.
I have worked with mental health individuals who manage their own healthcare but require some assistance. If they were to advocate for themselves in this situation they might hang up the phone and call back tomorrow or not. They might self medicate and take more medicine than is necessary thinking more is better or they might rapidly decline and go into respiratory distress because the assistant on the other end of the phone did not bother to advise them further of what to do should their symptoms exacerbate. They could die. Or the same scenario could play out for a person who has been newly diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis. They would have no idea how quickly things could potentially decline. The tricky thing about MG is that your symptoms can subside in a couple of hours or they can get worse. To have an assistant at doctor’s office tell you to call back tomorrow when you are reaching out for help is negligent.
DlC © 3/7/19