Friday, July 11, 2014

Patient Profiling: An Ugly Truth

Earlier today I came across an article on patient profiling. I had long since known I was a victim of this practice and decided it is time to speak out.

My doctors have profiled me as an anorexic, a bulimic, and severely mentally ill.

As a young child I struggled with depression and an anxiety disorder. These struggles were constant and real for a very long time. When I started throwing up daily and losing a scary amount of weight, my doctor was quick to slap the big and scary "eating disorder" on my file and refused any further medical treatment for me.  I respected her thoughts but knew there was something else going on inside of me.  I consulted a specialist and was finally taken seriously. After a myriad of tests, I was diagnosed with gastroparesis.  When I continued to lose weight, I was sent to the hospital for more radical treatments. After several failing feeding tubes, the doctors, obviously frustrated, claimed my disease was now "in my head."  They refused to give me pain medications and threatened to send me to the psych floor. After weeks of this degrading treatment from so called "professionals," I wised up and asked for a new doctor. Two hours after visiting with this new doctor, I was being scheduled for an emergency surgery. This pain was NOT in my head, it in fact, was in my gall bladder.

Later on in the year of 2013, I was in the middle of a massive gastroparesis flare. I wasn't holding down anything, including water. After a few days of suffering I went to Kid Med to get fluids and IV nausea medications. As soon as the doctor came in to see me, she suggested I go to an eating disorder clinic and discharged me without any sort of medical treatment.

One person can only take so much. After that, I started to doubt my gastroparesis diagnosis, I started to think that maybe I was, in fact, sick in the head. I even let one of my doctors talk me into going to an inpatient eating disorder clinic. (that's a story for another time)  After I walked out of there AMA, I think my doctors finally started to realize the seriousness of my physical disease.  However, at this point I had began treating myself because I no longer had any trust in doctors.

To this day, when I walk into a clinic, ER, or doctors office, I know for sure the first thing they think is "this skinny young girl cannot be this physically sick, she must have an eating disorder." I can see how it is easier to send me off to psych without any medical treatment, but it is not right.

Now, I am in no way belittling eating disorders or those who suffer from them. I imagine it is a special kind of hell, it's just not my hell.

So, let me end by saying this; to all of those who suffer from an eating disorder, you are in my thoughts and prayers. To all of those who have been a victim of patient profiling, I encourage you to stand up and speak out.  This will remain a problem so long as it is covered up and ignored. Let's change the way doctors judge us. Let's end this now.

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