Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Why's it so wrong to fight for appropriate care?

( without being deemed demanding/awkward and or mentally unstable)
Following on from my last post regarding dignity in mental health I wanted to talk about something that is going on in my life right on. I've been vocal in talking about my erm, difficulties with medical professionals, in particular my GP. Recently this has come to a head in that I've refused to see him or receive any form of care from the surgery as I don't feel safe or that I can trust being under his care. The decisions that he's made, the attitude he's had towards me (which I talk about further on) have led me to the decision to leave the practice. Now this wouldn't be such a major thing if this wasn't the 3rd practice I was moving to in my town (3rd and last remaining one I should point out, I've kind of run out of options). This poses the question am I awkward, difficult, a pain in the arse, a hypochondriac, do I spit at Drs? no comment on the pain in the arse No. What I am is someone who feels they have the right to be treated with respect, understanding and fuck it, I'll say it LIKE A HUMAN BEING. My name is Charlotte. I have severe and enduring mental illnesses, but that doesn't mean I'm any less Charlotte.
The one person you see most regarding your health tends to be your GP, so it's important that you feel able to at least talk to them, especially regarding mental illness. This is after all your first port of call for any treatment options, physical or mental. There are 3 GP practises in my town and when I first became ill I was registered with the one I'd been with since we moved here when I was tiny. This was fine up until I developed mental health problems. I felt uncomfortable with some of the things my Dr was saying. Every appointment I would get something said about "what you're putting your family through" in the appointments which were the only form of 'therapy' I was getting. However, A) I didn't feel he had the right to say this and B) he didn't know what went on in my family, so how did he know what my family was going through, he was making assumptions. Of course, it wasn't easy but anorexia was not a choice I was making. Strike 1.... I then had to see another Dr at the same surgery for an emergency appointment who told me that my leg wasn't swollen it was just fat... Strike 2 (It turned out I had an infection in my 'fat' leg). Strike 3 came when my regular GP was who was becoming increasingly irate that I wasn't making any progress from his little 'pep talks', told me that everything that was going wrong in my family, was actually my fault. Me. Just me. I was tearing my family apart.
I was absolutely distraught as you can imagine, as I had been increasingly after seeing him and it was decided that I would change surgeries to another in my town. I'd been putting the decision off as I knew it wouldn't be a simple matter, especially with someone with a history like mine, but also because as a person my GP was alright, it's just as a Dr he had failed me. (Other helpful things he advised were to just eat biscuits and cake and chocolate until my periods came back at which point I'd be 'cured'). In the first few years at my new surgery I saw 2 Drs, both I had to stop seeing for the same reasons, they kept making assumptions about me and talking about my personal and home life of which they knew nothing about, it's hard when you're trying to go to see a Dr about a physical problem and they start talking about something of which they know nothing about which then makes you upset gets you all flustered then perpetuates the whole 'mental' persona when actually I had been in a stable place going into the appointment. For example I'd go into an appointment with the 2nd GP with a physical issue my mental status, clearly on their mind, I'd finish talking and it was like they hadn't been listening, their eyes were glazed over, and they would start going on about my future, something which I find very hard to talk about, and about my face and how I look, even harder to talk about still. Then they would tell me I could do so many things with my life which triggers in me I want to be dead, so I would start crying, when I just went in there to talk about a physical problem. I had no intention of telling them what they'd triggered off inside my head with their comments. Maybe some people would like to hear what they were saying, but ignoring the physical issues repeatedly that I went in for, to comment inappropriately was not helpful for me. They too also held an idealistic approach about the eating that if I just ate I'd be cured and in trying to explain that actually my eating disorder was not the main issue my depression and all of the other shit was at the root of everything CAUSING the eating disorder and also predated the ED but they refused to listen to it, God forbid I actually knew something about what was going on inside my own head.
I don't expect GPs to have mental health training, they're GENERAL practitioners. I don't expect them to always understand what's going on inside my fucked up little head (I don't always even understand that) but I DO expect them to listen to what I'm saying, believe what I'm saying, not compare me to other patients with the same diagnoses, not form their own opinion based on (what THEY believe) the label they've stuck on me the minute I come in the door. I've had some great experiences with locums so it's not impossible to be a GP and be open to the fact that a person with a mental illness is also, you know, a person....
I was facing a new type of prejudice with my 4th GP. Being awkward and difficult due to changing doctors so many times. Initially I didn't mind him as he was new and he didn't know me, but he clearly read up on me after my first appointment as his attitude changed towards me. I also started getting much the same comments as I've previously gotten, about my family, and any physical issues I was trying to get help with were being completely ignored with the phrase repeated over and over again in every appointment "what do you expect you're anorexic". Not only this but the medical things he couldn't ignore (after being fobbed off by him) I had to look up myself and go to him to with, which he then asked ME how they were normally treated. I was the fucking patient! I ended up being referred to the wrong surgeon because I had no idea where to go to look for help to get the lump removed from my foot, I had assumed it was one type so suggested there and it was wrong and I ended up being handed round surgeons as he couldn't be bothered to look up how something should correctly be treated. I didn't go to medical school, I'm not a doctor!!! The final straw for me was when I had to see an ED psychiatrist at the request of my neurologist and she was flabbergasted as to why I hadn't been sectioned when I go for long periods of time without eating. This was discussed on the phone with my GP and he then told me and I quote " I know that being sectioned won't help you but I need to cover my own back so I might need to do it anyway" he admitted to me and repeated it again at a further appointment he'd get me sectioned JUST TO COVER HIS OWN BACK. This is not only unethical and immoral but wrong. I can understand if Drs might discuss doing this amongst themselves (STILL WRONG) but to say it to a patients
face... Repeatedly. Kind of makes me wonder who actually teaches at medical schools?????? Hi Everybody...

And I later found out he wasn't the first DR to threaten to do this. Wow Given my history with medical professionals in general, I shouldn't feel I can't trust the person primarily responsible for my care, or that it's compromised for having a mental illness. I don't want to to feel that I am being judged for what I say. Nor should I have to worry that the Drs main priority is them covering their own back for mistakes that they made with my care. 
So I am having to move practices. Do I face once again the judgement of being awkward and difficult because I've moved practises? obviously it must be my fault as I'm the one with the mental illness and a Dr could never be at fault. I asked my GP if I could just move to another GP in the practice but he refused. I feel like I've been made to feel guilty and ashamed for standing up for myself for asking for what someone without a mental illness would get as standard. Appropriate care and treatment without judgement, understanding and the ability to to trust their GP. On this front they have let me down big time. All I've done is refused to put up with being treated inappropriately, either through insensitive remarks regarding my family, my personal life, my appearance, inappropriate comments regarding my mental health and recently neglect of my care.
Somebody without a mental illness on their medical records wouldn't have to put up with it so why should I?
Let me know what you think. Have you had good or bad experiences with your GP?
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Nail of the day
Seeing as my nails are currently scented thats no fun for you as you can't smell the so I thought I'd do a throwback to the weekend and when my middlest niece stayed the night. Shes obsessssssed with nails and having hers painted and is good as gold whilst having them done, she loves choosing the colour even if she does choose really random clashing colours, sometimes insiting on having a base coat on its own because its sparkly... today she chose a metallic chrome colour and I did some foiling on the top. Look how proud she looks!

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