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Why DO doctors take women’s pain less seriously?

I woke up this morning in a bit more pain than usual. You see, it rained last night (continues to be humid and overcast) and despite the fact that many people will tell you that whole ‘rain aggravates arthritis’ syndrome is just that, it really isn’t. I can attest. My joints are aching big time this morning and it also adds a whole ‘nuther dimension of pain and uncomfortableness because when it happens I don’t sleep well and then everything is exaggerated because of it.

And to top it all off, I had the link to this wonderful study: Why do doctors take women’s pain less seriously?

And after reading, it occurred to me that this is the basis (probably) for the last five times I had to deal with meeting residents while attempting to establish a new primary care doc. (We have an incredible teaching hospital associated with a fairly prestigious university here in Kansas City.) Some years ago when my endocrinologist opted to stop seeing private patients to focus on her hospital work, I made a conscious decision to coordinate all my care around the hospital just to make things easier and to travel to a single place for all of my medical care.

When I did this, I ended up with a third year resident for my primary care and he was wonderful! He listened and asked questions and took the necessary time with me. Unfortunately, once he completed his residency, he moved to west Kansas to provide medical care to an under served part of the state. And thus began my frustrating and aggravating search for a new primary care.

And with reading this article, I now realize that – at least in part – this (the attitude defined in the article) has been part of the problem. I say “part”, but honestly it is probably most of the issue. Because the first thing that each of the residents has attempted to do was to either a) discontinue my pain medications or b) send me to someone else to handle that part. I have been seeing a pain management specialist through the same hospital for more than five years and for the most part we’re handling that part of it nicely. However, these fine residents in all of their lack of experience in the real world, the first thing they want to do is explain why this isn’t a good thing or why the drug I take isn’t effective. And of course, from this point, it is all downhill.

Arrogant sons of a bitches. I know this syndrome even if I don’t know the name of it. I worked with the co-chiefs of OB/GYN department in a large Phoenix hospital (also a teaching hospital) many years ago and it was part of my duties to work with the residents as they came through our service. I did this for more than four years. I worked with dozens, if not hundreds, of these fine men and women. There is something empowering about becoming a doctor, such that one thinks he or she knows more than anyone (not associated with the medical fields) and usually more about the patient than the patient! It reminds me of this joke:

Do you know the difference between God and a doctor? God doesn’t think he’s a doctor.

What makes this funny is that it is true. Healing and saving people is a most empowering feeling. Even working with doctors can give you this feeling.

So, I realize that meeting most of these “doctors” through the primary care clinic, I am encountering this phenomenon in spades. And while I was relatively calm and tried to be understanding, by the fifth time I went in – and this was following an aggravating procedure by the hospital of requesting to see a staff or faculty member instead of a resident but because I had already been seen by one or more residents I couldn’t switch and apparently there were no faculty or staff accepting new patients – I was understandably already agitated. So when he perceived my already established frustration he primary concern changed to focus on my apparent attitude and increased verbal level and became more concerned about my “yelling” and lack of patience rather than my pain, I understandably was upset. Again. For the fifth time.

I know there are folks who understand reading this. Men and women. That when young men and women (I include women although none of my residents were women) are empowered by the fact of graduating and becoming medical doctors, there tends to be a bit of grandiosity about themselves. So they tend to think a bit less about those around them and more about themselves.

Did I mention that a medical student was in tow that day? I can only imagine what he thought. I wish I could ask him.

I probably won’t be able to get a doctor in the greater area after writing this post. Hopefully, though, it will be just the opposite.


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What The Present Does to the Past… Making our Future

On occasion, my depression is punctuated by bursts of energy. Or is it that I inject energy to try and lift myself out of my depression? I don’t know. All I do know is that occasionally, I manage to drag my ass out of the house and do something.

Of course, these days, whatever we do needs to be free or relatively so. I can’t figure out if having this year off is good for me or not. I am finding that as I get older, it gets harder to job hunt. And gets harder to want to job hunt. It seems strange that such a varied and fulfilling career that I have had should end on – what I perceive to be – such a low note. I find it hard to get excited about much these days, although I am still fully invested in technology and all that it offers, it is difficult to find something to challenge that part of me. In the early days of my career – well, to be honest most of my career – has been in new development and working with the latest technology. Not only leading edge, but as it has become known: bleeding edge. Not really knowing how the technology would be accepted by the masses, but always having the slightest edge into what was coming down the pike was enough to spark energy and excitement. Not so much these days.

So, this past weekend, The Kid and I headed out for another one of our abandoned house hunting trips. It seems to be sort of a catharsis; a direct reflection of what technology is doing for the world while watching what abandoning that which was already established. It makes for a reflected, even melancholy, exercise. Yet the weather was gorgeous and the trip did not disappoint.

We found three houses/farms, but only one really provided the kind of props conducive to great photos. I will let them do their own talking…


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There is no other word that I can use to describe what I am feeling, other than tired. I am tired.

I am tired of this constant pain that I live with. Work around. Try to ignore. Try to understand. Medicate. Tolerate.

I am tired of this uncaring and unfeeling world that I live in. Where for the price of parking someone is willing to screw you over. And inconvenience and aggravate many more.

I am tired of trying to find peace and happiness in a world where there is none. I truly cannot pinpoint the last time I can say that I felt even the smallest ping of joy or happiness or inner peace. There is no contentment or harmony in this world we live in, only hatred and pain and the constant need to screw over the next person just so that there seems to be some advantage to the hell we tolerate.

I am tired of worrying about today, tomorrow, next week, next year. It seems that all of our days are spent in insane contemplation of tomorrow. Something so much out of our control that it is laughable that we even try.

I am tired that no one has any concern for anyone else. Even so called ‘christians’ who will still go to church on Sundays and praise god all the while having none of the compassion and charity that their religion calls for.

I am tired of looking for a reason to wake up every morning. The last thing on my mind when I go to sleep at night is for some divine or natural intervention that allows me not to wake up. That allows me to close my eyes at night and to never re-open them.

I am tired of everyone else thinking they know what is best for me. Unless you’ve lived in my skin and felt my pain and unhappiness, don’t think for one second that you know better than me. I am tired of arguing with second year residents who think they know what works best and is best for the body that I’ve lived in for fifty five years. Or having to appease some inexperienced medical student who thinks that because they took a class last semester that talked about the general effectiveness of certain medications, that they know what should work best for me. And I certainly do not need to be lectured on manners or scolded for raising my voice. What arrogance!

I am tired of having to pay for such incompetence and ineptitude and arrogance. And tired of wasting my time. Tired of the attitude that someone else’s time is more valuable or important than mine. Or the incidentals that go along with it. And I am tired of the inability of some people to see just how far a little compassion might reach if only they could see past their own selfishness and incompetence.

I am tired of living in a world that is made up of all of these things. I suppose that it might have to do with the vastness of mediocrity and incompetence in this world. No longer can we even consider ourselves unique or special, after all, we’re just one of nine billion. And every single one of them – including me – is clamoring to be noticed, appreciated, seen.

But this world has become all too impersonal and cold. And I am tired. So god damned tired.

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