Tactless Doctors

May 12, 2023 | Samantha Henman

Tactless Doctors

For some doctors, the most difficult part of their job is bedside manner. These patients came together to share stories of the moments their doctors opened their mouths and put their feet right in ‘em. Sure, I wouldn’t say that medicine is a customer service job, but there was no reason for these doctors to be so cruel, insensitive, and in some cases, downright weird.

1. Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number

One time, a doctor told me, "You're too young to be experiencing that kind of pain, aren't you really okay?"

So, I sought out another doctor. His diagnosis was shocking—He brushed it off as "just growing pains".

Keep in mind, I was 23 years old then. Fast forward to when I was 28––my liver was so battered that I almost passed away due to an autoimmune disease.

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2. Honesty Is The Best Policy

When I was 30, I unexpectedly landed in the hospital due to a heart infection that required a valve replacement. My surgeon was extraordinarily talented, yet something she shared with me off the record left me feeling chilled to the bone.

A couple of days prior to the surgery, she mentioned, "It could be a good idea to have your loved ones pay a visit, and to get your essential documents in order, because there's no certainty you'll wake up from this." Thankfully, I made it through okay. Her honesty was comforting in a strange way, and we've been exchanging occasional hand-written letters over the past decade.

Additionally, we had these pointless personal televisions at each bed, charging roughly £2 an hour. With my prolonged hospital stay, the cost could have easily piled high. But my surgeon managed to get me a free pass so I didn't have to worry about that.

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3. That’s Your Opinion

I often told my doctor about my persistent issues—that I struggled to breathe when I walked, experienced bouts of breathlessness, constant fatigue and dizziness, especially if I walked for a considerable amount of time. However, she would dismiss my concerns, simply suggesting I need more sleep or hydration, despite me having ample amounts of both.

Eventually, I booked a face to-face meeting with her. During the meeting, she unashamedly just labeled me as lazy and suggested I needed more exercise. My husband was with me during this encounter, and I felt ashamed and belittled, labeled as nothing more than a couch potato. It was extremely hard for me to hold back my tears.

Therefore, I decided to switch doctors. My new practitioner conducted some blood tests, which my previous doctor should've done initially. The results revealed that I was gravely anemic and required blood transfusions. After my infusions, I felt significantly better. There are some individuals who simply should not be medical practitioners!

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4. Surprise!

So here's the story—when I was 33, I went for my regular yearly check-up. I mentioned to my doctor that I'd been needing to go to the bathroom a lot and was feeling some discomfort in my stomach. However, she dismissed it as nothing to worry about. On that same visit, she performed a pap smear and joked about my cervix being closed—I ended up bleeding during the procedure, which isn't typical for me.

A few days later, I started experiencing additional pain, making me think I might have a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). I rang up my doctor's office and they had me provide a urine sample. But when I didn't hear back for several days, I called again only to find out a disappointng development—they had disposed of my sample due to a scheduling error.

They prescribed antibiotics over the phone, but those didn't help to alleviate my pain or my UTI symptoms. So, I visited the doctor's office again. Despite them not allowing walk-ins, they once more asked for a urine sample. This time, the results confirmed a UTI, and they put me on a stronger antibiotic regimen. Unfortunately, my symptoms persisted.

At that point, I decided to see an OB-GYN. At this appointment, I got an ultrasound, and that's when we stumbled upon a mind-blowing truth—I was already six months pregnant! I found out about my pregnancy and my baby's gender on the same day. It was a total shock, considering I hadn't experienced any typical signs of pregnancy.

If my previous doctor had taken my concerns seriously during my yearly check-up, we could've discovered the pregnancy three months earlier. Her oversight led me to be categorized as high-risk. Plus, the stress of suddenly having only three months to prepare for a baby's arrival was no picnic either.

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5. Not So Cute

When I was 25, I experienced HPV and was diagnosed with CIN3 pre-cancerous lesions in my cervix, the stage just before actual cancer.

I remember perfectly what the doctor who conducted my LEEP surgery said to me—"With this transmitted disease you contracted, your chances of having adorable babies in the future might be greatly affected. Do you comprehend what I'm discussing here?" At that moment, I was astounded and felt like giving her a piece of my mind.

I was 25, had successfully earned a master's degree, and was knowledgeable and articulate. I was well-informed about cervical cancer, nearly matching the expertise of doctors because every woman in my maternal family had experienced it. She definitely had no need to communicate with me like I was an innocent five-year-old, and her reference to HPV was completely improper.

Regardless, it seems her surgical skills were indeed professional, since the results showed clear boundaries and I eventually was able to have two beautiful children. But I really need to underscore this: her interpersonal skills and manner of addressing patients seriously need substantial improvement.

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6. Falling On Deaf Ears

I had a knee injury from an accident which led to a dormant muscle and a twisted joint, as diagnosed by a physiotherapist. They suggested some exercises but there was no follow-up visit arranged.

Years later, playing rugby, which in hindsight wasn't smart, further injured my knee. Walking 20 feet would cause swelling and muscle spasms. A doctor, referring to my heft of over 200 pounds, viewed it as pure laziness. His exact words were, 'you need to lose weight or you're just being a lazy couch potato.' He scheduled a follow-up for a month later, challenging me to lose at least 6 pounds.

A month later, having actually shed 12 pounds, the doctor's response was disappointing to say the least. He point-blank refused to assist further unless I lost more weight, and embarrassingly, yelled through an open door about an 'elbow problem'. I clarified that my issue was with my knee not my elbow, and that I had indeed lost weight. I demanded a second opinion, expressing my displeasure at his attitude.

After that, I was barred from seeking treatment at that clinic. I managed to lodge a complaint which was eventually overturned on appeal. I was then put on a waiting list to see a different physiotherapist, though it’s been almost 10 years and I've yet to hear more on this. Asking about the situation, I was told to contact the doctor who initially placed me on the waiting list; however, they've since retired. The recurring advice leveled at me was to 'cease being a couch potato,' which wasn't particularly helpful or constructive.

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7. That’s A Real Eye Opener

A few years back, I had an eye check-up and the eye doctor handed me a note and instructed me to head straight to an eye clinic. I wasn't overly anxious, but I genuinely didn't know what was coming my way.

Once I arrived at the eye clinic and handed over the note at the front desk, the receptionist responded, "Oh, I see, please follow me." Without any delay, I was escorted past the queue and situated in a CT scanner within my first 20 minutes there.

Not long after, a doctor approached me with news—there was something in the center of my brain and I was going to be transported to a neurosurgery-focused hospital via ambulance.

A couple of hours later, they were inserting a drain into my skull to remove the excess buildup of spinal fluid that was accumulating behind my eyes.

After a closer examination by an MRI scan, they found a cyst, about the size of a golf ball, lodged in the core of my brain that was causing the issue.

Needless to say, that was quite a tough day.

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8. Willful Blindness

I stumbled and instantly felt something drastically amiss with my knee. I found myself waiting in the emergency room for hours, my leg stretched out in front of me, supported by a wheelchair. A doctor briefly examines an x-ray and dismisses me, saying, "It's just a little scrape, no need to make a fuss"—but things escalated from there.

She tried to force my knee to bend despite it being completely locked. They even suggested to my mother that I should be walking on it.

About a week later, following an apparent review of my X-rays, I was summoned to meet a specialist. He unveiled a surprising finding— I'd sustained a fracture in my leg and a piece of my kneecap was chipped off, injuring my cartilage. 

I had to embark on a journey of relearning how to walk, involving over a year of physiotherapy and hydrotherapy. The specialist showed me the X-ray and even someone with no medical background could easily identify the irregularities. It baffled me how the first doctor could have overlooked such clear signs.

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9. Creep Doesn’t Quite Cover It

When I was just 19, my main health care provider, who happened to be a man, suggested that he could conduct a pap smear for me during my general health check-up. When I let him know that I was already seeing a gynecologist, his response just floored me. 

He said, "I can do it in a professional context, or in a personal one". Understandably, I made the decision not to book any future appointments with him, and I reported his conduct.

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10. Haste Makes Waste

While I was employed at a hospital, a narrative made its rounds. It was about a man who sustained severe facial injuries from a gunshot. His prognosis was bleak, with demise expected imminently. In an unfortunate turn of events, a naive intern unintentionally made a dreadful comment.

He inquired: "Is this the patient we'll be retrieving the kidneys from?" According to the tale, the patient, doomed for certain, startlingly sat up in response. While I hope it's merely gossip, word has it that they did indeed extract the kidneys.

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11. Stereotyped

Following my knee operation, my physician assured me I'd be back to my martial arts training once I healed. However, there was one small hitch. I had never engaged in martial arts. It dawned on me that he might have made that assumption simply because I'm Asian.

Upon sharing with him that I wasn't a martial artist but rather a tennis enthusiast, we both had a hearty chuckle. Despite his prediction that my tennis days ended with my surgery, I delight in saying, I'm still actively playing.

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12. Three Strikes, You’re Saved

Six years ago, I underwent treatment for acute myeloid leukemia, which included chemotherapy, total body irradiation, and an allogeneic stem cell transplant.

Four weeks after my stem cell transplant, my doctor walked in, as serious as ever, holding a printout of the test results. The news wasn't good.

He told me bluntly—the transplant hadn't been successful. There were still leftover cancer cells in my bone marrow tests. I took the news in stride, too taken aback to even glance at the results. My mind raced, conjuring up all sorts of scenarios and possibilities.

After some time, another doctor came in, offering reassurance by reminding me about other treatment options available. That helped.

Then, a third doctor, hailing from the Middle East, visited me. She told me I was young and there were other treatments we could pursue. Her words lessened my shock and I remained hopeful despite the harsh prognosis.

Fourteen days later, another bone marrow test was conducted to track how much the cancer had spread and to plan our next move. Then came the biggest surprise—we could not find any signs of cancer cells. The tide had turned. From that day onwards, I have been cancer-free. My donor's cells fought off the residual cancer cells and saved my life.

Now, I share the DNA of my donor, a six-year-old French girl. It's astonishing how far modern medicine has come.

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13. We’re Done

During my middle school years, I was under the care of a psychiatrist due to my generalized anxiety and panic disorder. My weight had been a continuous struggle for me because my anxiety made eating difficult. 

At one point, I found myself 15 pounds underweight. However, once I started using antidepressants, I saw improvement in my anxiety, which subsequently led to weight gain.

One day, my psychiatrist decided to weigh me. After checking my weight, he warned me that I needed to monitor my eating habits because I was beginning to pack on the pounds, according to him. Quite honestly, I had just managed to get to the lower limit of a healthier weight after battling for months. 

To be told this felt like a serious blow to my self-esteem because of all the progress I thought I had made. His words hit me so hard that I broke down crying right there. It utterly crushed me. My mom got really mad at him and we stormed out of his office, never to return again.

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14. Mistaken Identity

Once upon a time, I mistakenly told the wrong person that her mom was in critical condition. My reasons were valid, but it was still an awful situation.

This happened late at night and I was the only doctor on duty, working in tandem with a couple of nurses and technicians. As it gets late, other doctors gradually hand over their patients’ care to the night shift and take off.

I was summoned to a room for an emergency resuscitation. This woman had already received 20 minutes of treatment in the ambulance on her way here. The chances of significant recovery didn't seem very promising. Then a woman in her 40s appeared at the door stating she was the patient’s daughter.

Now, if I'm the only doctor available, it becomes my job to perform life-saving procedures, manage the emergency situation, and communicate with the patient's family. Sometimes, it all happens simultaneously. 

As she showed up and seemed to identify the patient, I neglected to confirm the patient's name with her. Instead, I dived straight into the sensitive inquiries—how long had she been sick, what led to this? Little did I understand I was making a significant error.

It unfolded that the woman was not the daughter of our current patient but the next one, who’d recently occupied this room before being moved to make way for the current emergency. She had confidently informed reception that she knew her way to her mom's room. 

It was an unusual situation and with the emergency at hand, our staff was stretched thin. She had mistaken the patient for her mom due to similar hair color and because the patient was obscured by tubes and medical equipment. Thankfully, her actual mom was fine, waiting just two rooms away.

Luckily, the woman held it together and didn't panic. It’s a situation that taught me never to skip confirming identification, even when things seem obvious. Truly a lesson learned the hard way.

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15. Second Opinions Save Lives

When I was just a kid of five, I woke my folks up in the dead of night by crying out loud. I found myself in so much pain that I couldn't even muster the strength to throw off my blankets, let alone take a step. Rushing to my aid, my parents found me super hot to the touch, and immediately whisked me off to the emergency room. 

The attending doctor coolly told my mom, "Your son has a fever. Ever heard of a chill-out bath and a cooling popsicle?" My dad's face was flushed crimson like I'd never seen before.

To avoid going off his rocker at the uncaring doctor, my dad exited and rang our family doctor—a good family friend—at his residence. Our kids often had sleepovers—we were that close.

He got on the horn to the emergency room. I don't recall what happened next, but soon I was soaring down the highway in an ambulance—the skies were too turbulent for an air evacuation—towards the closest city, a good 350km away. They admitted me to the pediatric ICU. Turned out, I had meningitis.

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16. If It Looks Like A Duck And Quacks Like A Duck

My doctor jumped to the conclusion that my symptoms indicated an STD. And that's not all, either. He even had the audacity to suggest I wasn't being honest about my personal life.

Honestly, I'm a mature adult. If I had believed I contracted an STD, I wouldn't have hesitated to admit it. When I suggested it might be a kidney infection, he dismissed the idea as illogical.

Despite his doubts, they performed all the necessary tests for STDs. And guess what? They all came back negative. So what was causing my problems? You guessed it—a kidney infection.

Before I left, he curiously asked me how I knew it was a kidney infection. With a grin, I offered an answer that only fueled his irritation further. I told him that I had been watching episodes of House MD, and the symptoms lined up.

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17. The Truth Hurts

Following a terrible car crash, I was experiencing indescribable agony. My physician displayed my X-rays and, casting a glance at me, expressed in a rather patronizing tone: "I trust you have a competent lawyer". He continued by stating: "There's a strong chance you might never fully recover." 

Being in the prime of my health prior to the crash, I ended up shedding over 50 pounds afterwards. I bore a striking resemblance to someone who had been incarcerated.

After enduring numerous months of arduous physical therapy at a facility I humbly named as "Land of the misfit toys," I gradually got back on my feet.

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18. Serenity Now

A few years back, I was dealing with stress and headaches, which were new to me, so I decided to visit my doctor. Considering the sudden headaches and my role as a business owner, he ordered some tests, including an MRI.

My doctor believed the stress from running my business might be the simple cause and suggested taking a vacation. So, I planned a relaxing break for my entire family—wife, kids, and even the dog—and booked us a quiet cabin in the Smoky Mountains. We would have five whole days to sit back and enjoy the tranquil beauty of the surroundings.

We arrived at our delightful cabin around 4 pm, which was astonishingly equipped with an indoor pool, a billiards table, indoor mini-golf, and an exclusive arcade room. It might seem luxurious and costly, but we got the entire week for roughly $1,000, which I thought was a good deal considering all the amenities.

Excitement filled me the next morning as we planned to explore Pigeon Forge and have fun with go-karts, as wished by the kids. Against my wife's counsel, I reached for my email at 8:30 am. What I found there made my heart drop. It was an email from my doctor sharing my MRI results.

The message was straightforward yet chilling: “Mr. XYZ, Our medical team has reviewed your MRI results and identified a large brain tumor in the scans. We urge you to contact us IMMEDIATELY to arrange further tests and a consultation with a neurosurgeon.”

Trying to relax after reading such news on vacation was an enormous challenge.

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19. No Ibuprofen Is Going To Fix That

"Just pop an ibuprofen," they said. This was around the 3.5-month mark of what turned out to be a grueling 5-month journey dealing with appendicitis. When the medical team finally consented to perform surgery, the situation was bleak. The scar tissue had caused my colon to adhere to my abdominal wall. 

This layer of scar tissue was so robust that it resulted in the bending of surgical instruments while they were attempting to dislodge it during my initial operation. Thankfully, the subsequent operation was far more effective in properly taking out my appendix. Thankfully, there have been only a few long-term consequences.

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20. Lost And Found

One of the most devastating things a doctor ever told me was that I had Bipolar Disorder. They put me on medication, and when it didn't seem to be helping, they kept upping the dosage. Eventually, I was taking a staggering 800mg of the drug Seroquel daily. It made me so out of it I couldn't even read. 

Ultimately, I was forced to leave college. I couldn't sleep without the medication and even attempted a week-long bout of insomnia when I tried to. Not being able to look after myself properly anymore, I moved back in with my dad and ended up under constant surveillance. The doctor even toyed with the idea of shock therapy.

Fast forward almost a decade, ten precious years erased from my life, I changed doctors, found a caring therapist, and began the painstaking journey of weaning myself off the medication.

Then came an ironic twist—it turns out I'm not bipolar, but autistic. My "symptoms" were not mania but sensory overload and hyperfocus. I react unusually under hectic situations because they completely overwhelm me. 

Two years of intensive therapy, appointments with neurologists and psychiatrists, and countless diary entries and medical reports later, I finally received the accurate diagnosis and released from the grip of my earlier misdiagnosis.

However, I simply can't forgive my original doctor. The lost decade is irretrievable. I also lost my mom during those years, and she's irreplaceable. I've managed to return to college, but the chances I once had are forever lost.

All the while, that doctor is still out there practicing.

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21. Vindicated

A while ago, I underwent a surgery on my little finger to repair a torn tendon. The surgeon found no tendon left to mend and, with my wife's approval, borrowed a bit of tendon from my wrist to complete the operation.

As luck would have it, I tripped down some concrete stairs and felt a stab of pain in my arm. When I tried to open my front door, I experienced a sudden 'POP' sensation in my forearm. Straight away, I realised something wasn't right and rang up my doctor's office for help.

I ended up speaking with the surgeon's trainee and explained what happened and my symptoms, which included a bulge in my forearm and pain. However, her response irritated me to no end. 

She insisted that they didn't operate on my wrist or forearm and concluded that my painkillers were causing confusion. Regardless of what I said, she kept on dismissing my concerns.

So, I rang again and booked a regular appointment for the same day. To my surprise, the trainee I had argued with earlier walked in with the hand surgeon. As I relayed my experiences to the surgeon, she kept giving me a look suggesting I was the problem.

Once I finished explaining my perspective, I sat back, eagerly anticipating karma knocking at her door. The surgeon finally spoke, saying, "The bulge, pop, and pain are likely because the stitches in your wrist's tendon have come loose". I looked at her and said, sarcastically, "Really?" The trainee couldn't muster an apology and avoided my gaze for the rest of the appointment.

Regrettably, I was stuck with a bum hand as nothing could be done to fix the transplanted tendon in my wrist. I had to let it waste away and be reabsorbed—witnessing the creepy spectacle of a lump shrink towards my elbow and eventually vanish.

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22. Holier Than Thou

I sought expert advice from my family doctor about a neurological condition I'd recently found I had. Unhelpfully, I was fobbed off with talk of faith and divine destiny. Not exactly the stuff you tell a 17-year-old girl trying to determine if her career dreams are within her reach. Spoiler alert, they weren't. That was the end of our visits to that clinic.

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23. Cold-Hearted

When I was 19, I found myself 21 weeks into a pregnancy. On my 20-week ultrasound scan, I received some concerning news about my cervix beginning to dilate. I was told to rest, yet my baby seemed healthy.

Just one week later, I ended up in the hospital due to bleeding and contractions. Medical staff labeled it a "threatened miscarriage". It was April 1st, and I deeply wished it was an April's fool joke.

The following day, the leading obstetrician came to talk through the situation. I asked if there was any way to halt the contractions and give my baby a chance to mature. The response I got, chilled me to the bone.

"Miscarriage is just nature's quality control"

By that afternoon, I had given birth and my precious son only lived for an hour.

Subsequently, I lodged a complaint, for which I received a handwritten apology from the doctor. During my next pregnancy, I made sure that this doctor was not involved in my care.

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24. Dissed & Dismissed

At the age of 19, I was struck with a urinary tract infection (UTI). I had no doubt about what it was so I sought immediate medical care. As I didn't yet have a regular doctor around where I was studying, I headed to an urgent care center to get antibiotics.

The doctor questioned my intimate activity. I told the truth—I was active with a single partner and we ensured using protection. To my surprise, the doctor was convinced I was dealing with a transmitted disease (STD), not a UTI. 

He reiterated this assertion, assuring me that a prescription for antibiotics will follow once the lab results confirm his diagnosis. But no tests were done, not even a basic urine sample.

I was absolutely mortified by this experience. A couple of days passed, the lab results showed no trace of any STDs, but I never received follow-up from the clinic. Throughout this, my UTI had worsened and spread to my kidneys, causing terrible pain. 

I was so shaken by my previous visit to the urgent care center that I let a whole month pass before seeking help again, which by then, it had escalated to the point where I was at the brink of sepsis and had to be rushed to the emergency room. Almost ten years later, my right kidney still suffers from the ordeal.

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25. Mind Your Mouth

After getting out of a really rough relationship, I found myself constantly on the brink of explosive anger. This was unfamiliar territory for me, as I had never been known to lose my temper. My children became the targets of my uncontrollable outbursts, though they had done nothing to deserve it. 

Despite my best efforts to keep it in check, I was unsuccessful. In desperation, I sought the help of a psychiatrist, but her advice—to simply "be mindful"—was not only unhelpful but also quite maddening. I couldn't suppress an eye roll during that session and decided not to return.

Turned out, I had PTSD—that's not something that just disappears with "mindfulness". Fortunately, I found the help I needed elsewhere and was able to overcome these issues before it took a major toll on my children. 

The guilt for making them go through such an ordeal still lingers and I realized something crucial—psychiatrists are human too, and they can sometimes miss the mark. Hence, it's alright to seek out a different professional when one’s advice doesn't seem to be helping.

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26. Beating The Odds

I reacted poorly to Covid and the doctor entered, took a seat. With a bi-pap mask, conversing was tough for me. She chit-chatted about unimportant topics like the weather. 

After about five minutes of this, she released a deep sigh and said, "These are wild times with so much happening. For a while now, I've had to relay this news to families. But you are the first patient that can still hear me. You're not faring well and your condition seems to worsen. Sadly, we anticipate you may not survive the coming days.”

In summary, I pulled through, but the experience left a deep impact on me. I harbor no ill will towards her. The situation was terrible, not her. The medical team, including her, did an outstanding job. 

She was simply worn out from witnessing so much tragedy. This was in the early phases when we were still figuring things out. I can't begin to comprehend the burden dealt with by those having to break such news to families every day.

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27. Can’t Unhear That

I had a cyst taken out from my tailbone. But afterward, the area became irritated, turned inflamed and would constantly rupture, especially from one specific point. I'm not kidding, this would always occur on a Friday, leaving me waiting until Monday to see the doctor. By the time Monday rolled around, it would have already healed.

Over time, I made several Monday doctor visits, but there was never proof of my problem. Then he told me an unbelievably dreadful tale about a patient who would intentionally sew feces into hidden regions of his body to trigger a reaction so severe it needed hospitalization, possibly due to mental illness or a wish for attention.

At this point, I bluntly asked the doctor if he was hinting that I was fabricating my symptoms either to see him or because of mental illness. His response was essentially yes, saying he was not dismissing it as a possibility.

It was absolutely frustrating and mentally straining to have a doctor who performed surgery on you, doubt your words. Despite being a very balanced person, this experience messed with my mind for a few months. I'm a lot better now, but my dislike for that doctor still remains. I wish that there was something I could do about it.

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28. If At First You Don’t Succeed…

For a rough 4.5 years, my partner and I were trying to have a baby, but I had several miscarriages. The day after one of these miscarriages, which ended the longest pregnancy I've ever had (9 weeks), I had a visit scheduled with my general physician for a thyroid panel test. 

When the nurse came in to draw my blood, she quickly glanced over my medical records. He demeanor changed, and it concerned me deeply. She spotted the note about my recent miscarriage and the purpose of my visit, and then proceeded to console me with an unfortunate cheer, saying "Oh dear, don't fuss about this baby not surviving. You can easily get pregnant again”! 

The moment my doctor stepped into the room, I voiced my concern about what happened. My doctor's reaction was unsurprising, as he seemingly brushed off my complaint. However, when I brought this up with the practice manager later, I never encountered that nurse ever again.

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29. More Than Puberty Blues

Suffering from intense depression and anxiety were my norm, along with frequent mental meltdowns. Desperate for a solution, I searched for help through a scheduled doctor's appointment. My hope was to gain medication, therapy, or any form of relief. But life wasn't proving helpful, instead, it felt like a relentless downward spiral. 

The doctor's response flatly labeled my struggles as a mere "phase." In his opinion, once puberty was over, I'd be just fine—it was all "just hormones," he stated. But the most hurtful remark he made? He suggested it was "normal to be emotional during my period."

Yes, hormonal changes occur during puberty and menstrual cycles making individuals more emotional and impulsive. But it doesn't justify the urge to cause harm to oneself.

After enduring years of self-harm and wrestling with an eating disorder, it turned out it wasn't just a "phase." I've been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) stemming from childhood trauma that was never addressed and a life filled with triggers.

I wasn't just being a flighty teenage girl, I was genuinely in pain and crying out for help.

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30. Trouble’s Brewing

After having my fourth child, I started experiencing severe bellyaches. My gynecologist advised me to contact my primary care physician.

Subsequently, my primary doctor essentially stated that they won't conduct any further examination assuming I was likely still in postpartum bleeding. They basically dismissed my complaint, saying "pain is common after childbirth".

Shockingly, I found out six weeks after at my postnatal check-up that I had a bladder infection all that while. The journey was far from enjoyable.

Interestingly, this is the same doctor who suggested my husband could curb his panic attacks by simply relaxing and perhaps, having a beer. But spoiler alert: panic attacks cannot be resolved so casually.

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31. All Fired Up

I'm a 21-year old living with type 1 diabetes. Once, I caught a virus that kept making me vomit, causing my glucose level to drop alarmingly. Fearing that I might have a seizure or slip into a coma, I rushed to the Emergency Room (ER).

There, the ER doctor doubted my concerns, because I didn't fit his stereotype of a diabetic—older and overweight. Unfamiliar with the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, he mistakenly assumed I was exaggerating my condition. So he summoned a psychiatrist.

Just as the psychiatrist arrived, I had a seizure. Subsequently, I spent a taxing week in the ICU. Even so, I managed to hold that doctor accountable for his misconceived actions. I succeeded in having him removed from the ER, and I fought to possibly revoke his medical license. 

As a result, at least, he lost his credentials to practice emergency healthcare.

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32. Whoops

"The doctor was puzzled," he murmured after my vasectomy procedure. Just two hours later, my private region swelled up to nearly the size of a melon—causing me extreme pain and making it impossible to use the restroom due to the swelling.

Shortly afterwards, I had to undergo another surgery to drain the accumulated fluid and blood—about 12 to 16 liquid ounces. Incredibly, it seems I fell into the very slender 0.1% margin of patients who face such post-procedure complications. And that's not all—this unexpected surgery knocked me back another $4,000.

The doctor suggested that I might suffer from a type of hemophilia. However, I regularly get minor cuts at my job with no clotting problems. And, it's been five months, but the pain persists.

Nonetheless, I gotta say—it's still a less painful process than raising another child.

The Worst Thing My Doctor Told MeFreepik,tonodiaz

33. The Sound Of Silence

The end of my high school years came with an unwelcome surprise—tinnitus. It was truly terrible. Sleeping became a nightmare when it started, so I'd attempt to block out the incessant ringing with TV noise. I was completely miserable. My folks couldn't fathom why this was happening or understand what this invisible ringing was, but I'd cry just wanting silence back.

Thank goodness for my dad's reliable insurance. He found me an ENT doctor who was very blunt. Still, his honesty didn't make his diagnosis any less heartbreaking. 

 I was told my tinnitus was here to stay and shared by millions of other Americans. The visit felt almost insultingly short—waiting an hour only for a 5 minute chat. I began tearing up, confused on how to handle this.

My kind dad, grateful for his resources, then arranged for me to consult another ENT specialist—such a blessing I am mindful of. This doctor was brilliant. His message was the same but he was definitely gentler. He explained that this just occurs sometimes, it wasn't my fault. 

He suggested a white noise machine to help mask the ringing, and to evade loud noises. Regardless, it wasn't ideal, but his words soothed me somewhat. Now I'm at a point where the ringing no longer aggravates me anymore.

The Worst Thing My Doctor Told MePexels

34. Let’s Get Physical

The doctor said to me, "I noticed you dozing off in the waiting area. This level of fatigue could indicate sleep apnea, so I can't pass you on your physical exam. If you lose some weight, I may re-evaluate."

This person really tried to cost me my job just because I had to rise early at 4 am that day and fell asleep – and then had the nerve to call me overweight!

To maintain my job, I had to seek out three other doctors to conduct physicals and counter her decision to fail me.

The Worst Thing My Doctor Told MePexels

35. Wake-Up Call

As I'm in the middle of packing for a cross-country business trip, my doctor rings me up with an urgent message: I need to drop what I'm doing and head for the emergency room. It seems I'm in serious jeopardy. The blood tests I had yesterday have come back with alarming results: my blood sugar has skyrocketed above 20 and my A1C levels are alarmingly high in the mid-teens.

Despite the doctor's warning, I feel absolutely fine—so much so that I decide to proceed with my trip. This is a decision I later come to rue.

You see, for years, I've been ignoring my diabetes, failing to stick to a proper care plan. This carelessness culminates in 2018, when I have to undergo a below-the-knee amputation of my right foot. It's a wake-up call that finally makes me face my condition seriously.

The Worst Thing My Doctor Told MePexels

36. Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

I've got this lump on my heel, a cyst I think, so I decided to pay a visit to a doc. To add to the heel issue, my ankle sometimes acts up when I'm really active, like when I'm in the middle of a basketball game or jumping around playing volleyball or football. I've been dealing with this nagging pain for two years now.

The doctor's suggestion was infuriating. He said maybe I should quit these sports, implying "I'm too old for this." Can you believe it? I was just 23!

So, I sought out a real expert instead. It cost me an arm and a leg, but here's what he said—I'm dealing with progressive flat feet which results in inflammation in my ankle.

The Worst Thing My Doctor Told MeFreepik, peoplecreations

37. Take A Long Walk Off A Short Pier

When I was 16, I was under the care of a rheumatologist primarily for my fibromyalgia, among other health concerns. I had managed to shed roughly 60 pounds and had finally achieved a healthy weight. 

However, my pain and tiredness had actually increased. My rheumatologist asked about my exercise routine, to which I shared that I was walking three times daily—these were long, effective walks. His response was harsh.

He stared me straight in the eyes and stated, "walking isn't exercise." It wasn't the cruellest thing he could have said, but it shattered something inside me. I was filled with anger, disappointment, and a sense of helplessness. That incident was the last straw, after other previous issues, and I decided to stop seeing him.

The Worst Thing My Doctor Told MePexels

38. Less Than Zero

Doctor: You've got elevated cholesterol levels, so cutting down on meat would be good for you.

Me: That's odd, because I've been a vegetarian all my life. There's got to be something else I can do, right?

Doctor: Seems like meat is the main problem in this situation. Just reducing your meat intake should make things better.

Me: But how can I reduce my meat consumption? I'm currently eating no meat at all. Should I eat even less?

Doctor: Correct.

The Worst Thing My Doctor Told MeFreepik,DCStudio

39. If He Only Had A Brain…

I've been wrestling with controlling my blood pressure because of a condition called Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). It got so bad one day I fainted in the shower. I knew I'd gotten a concussion when my head hit the floor, which made my girlfriend insist we go to the emergency room. 

My fainting episodes had been on and off for days, and now, with the promise of a concussion, we were pretty worried. Fainting moments in the car and almost crashing down in the ER didn't help either.

Once we'd checked in, a phlebotomist came to draw my blood and she couldn't stop mumbling. Her nasty words still ring in my ears. She acted like I was wasting her time, as she believed I was just feigning illness to score some pain meds. She even suggested to my girlfriend that bringing me in was unnecessary.

Next, a different person tipped in, did a double-take at me and my companion, and asked, "So, your boyfriend will be here soon?". I had to clarify that the woman beside me was my partner, not my sister, and the response I received was the typical 'Oh, I see' before she hastily exited.

They took me for a CT scan and I was told that everyone faints, concussions are common, so I really shouldn’t have been there. Their opinion? Low blood pressure wasn't much to worry about and POTS was an attention-seeking diagnosis invented by teen girls.

Once the scan was over, the nurse came to inform my girlfriend that the doctor would soon see us. With my consciousness still flitting away and me not acting normally, my girlfriend asked if there was any way to help. The nurse gave the unhelpful advice of monitoring my behavior changes and said that was all they could do for now.

Even with my girlfriend insisting my behavior was far from normal, and me not even recalling the events of the past days, they didn't seem to get that something was genuinely wrong.

An hour later, when the doctor finally decided to show up, he wondered where my 'boyfriend' was. And to add insult to injury, he mockingly 'reassured' me that the scan showed I had a brain and so must be a smart young woman. The height of arrogance! Then, the diagnosis of the concussion was delivered with instructions to go home, rest, and return if I observed any behavioral or mood changes.

Absolutely not. I won't be coming back. After spending $1,500 to be told I have a vital organ (which he, apparently, lacked), I won't be returning to a place that treated me with such disrespect. That was the most irritating hospital interaction I've ever had.

The Worst Thing My Doctor Told MePexels

40. I Can Hear Clearly Now

Every time I'd go to the doctor, they would examine my ears and grumble about the inability to see anything due to the wax accumulation. My mom always insisted that I needed to up my ear cleaning game. For a while, I was using a Q-tip almost daily to keep them clean.

Eventually, I visited a doctor who, despite the same visibility issue, decided to take action. I enlightened her about my frequent cleaning habits, which led her to voice a warning against Q-tips. We dedicated almost two hours to thoroughly cleaning my ears. 

The revelation was quite shocking—my ears started bleeding. From the looks of it, it seemed I'd been living with an unnoticed ear infection in one ear for quite some time, hidden beneath the wax layer. I now shun Q-tips and prefer to get my ears professionally cleaned quite frequently. 

I experienced minor hearing impairment in the ear with the infection. Just goes to show how important it is to find the right doctor.

The Worst Thing My Doctor Told MePexels

41. Rhymes With Meadow

When I was 14, I visited a male dermatologist for my severe acne. He mentioned that he would prescribe birth control pills to help manage it. Then he jokingly said, "Once your skin gets better, you'll have to stay on the pill!" with a wink. This comment made me feel uncomfortable.

In another instance with the same doctor, when he was removing a small mole on my back, he needed to numb the area with a local anesthetic shot. I didn't react to the needle, since I was used to them from years of allergy shots.

He then laughingly remarked, "Seems like you have a high tolerance for pain," giving me a pat on the back once he finished the procedure.

The Worst Thing My Doctor Told MePexels

42. Show & Tell

I've recently learned that I have hypermobility. Yet at the time, I was a robust 20-year-old lady suffering from recurring knee dislocations for reasons unknown. Despite my high pain threshold, the dislocations were causing me problems.

A doctor formed an opinion that I wasn't experiencing knee dislocations, even though there was recorded evidence from other medical experts. This doctor believed dislocations were more painful than I could comprehend, and likely suggested I was suffering from bursitis instead. 

This completely uncooperative individual berated me for close to 20 minutes, insisting I couldn't be having dislocations while I sat there, utterly stunned and horrified. That's when I lost my cool.

In my outrage, I stood up, said nothing, and forcefully twisted my right leg in just such a way that it caused a full dislocation of the kneecap. Remaining unwavering in my gaze with the doctor, I didn't let out a peep and dropped to the ground like a fallen tree. Usually, I'm pretty good at enduring pain, but that day, pure fury seemed to heighten my ability to withstand the pain.

The Worst Thing My Doctor Told MePexels

43. Worst Case Scenario

"Well, it appears you're likely heading towards loss of sight"!

As I start imagining myself wandering around, making use of a white cane, he nonchalantly says, "But there's no need for concern. Corneal transplants have a 99% success rate, you'll be okay".

Later, when my vision became poor enough to necessitate it, I did go through the transplants. They had a wondrous impact, but boy, next time start with the reassuring "you'll be okay" bit.

The Worst Thing My Doctor Told MePexels

44. The Acid Test

When I was in middle school through my sophomore year in high school, I'd always feel like I was going to throw up whenever I got hungry. It was as if my stomach was aflame, and this feeling often caused me to miss school.

 Despite these health issues, I managed to keep up academically. After plenty of disagreements, my mother finally gave in and took me to see a gastroenterologist.

Before the doctor agreed to perform an endoscopy, he suggested that I was making a fuss over nothing. He assumed that I, being a teen girl, might be acting up for attention and he even questioned if I was inventing this pain to skip school. 

He suggested I might have a mental health issue masking as a physical problem. But the endoscopy revealed the truth—I was suffering from GERD and serious acid reflux.

But rather than dropping the issue, the doctor went ahead to bluntly express his anger, telling me that I had the stomach condition comparable to an 80-year-old man. He seemed adamant in his belief that I must be deliberately messing up my stomach with my eating habits.

It's also worth mentioning that my family has a history of stomach problems and GERD. What I can't comprehend is, why would it be inconceivable for me to have acid reflux as a teenager when my brother had the same symptoms at a younger age. Yet for some reason, it was easier for the doctor to call me a liar.

The Worst Thing My Doctor Told MeFreepik,freepik

45. He Was Thinking Ink

I visited my doctor due to a nagging pain I'd been experiencing in my lower left side for a few days. After taking some time to ask me some questions, he brushed off my concern saying, "It's just a strained muscle, no need to fuss over it. However, I DO need to discuss that tattoo on your arm". 

The conversation then swerved into an outdated lecture on the perils of tattoos. He insisted tattoo parlors are unsanitary due to reusing needles, he criticized the synthetic ink and claimed my skin was housing plastic-pretty much regurgitating the old scare tactics from the 80s/90s.

To give you context, I was 31, not a naive adolescent attempting a homemade needle-and-ink tattoo. Fast forward a few years, the real cause of my pain—diverticulitis, is finally discovered.

The Worst Thing My Doctor Told MePexels

46. Not Pulling Their Legs

When I was 18, I just had my baby and my epidural hadn't worn off yet. The nurse came in to shift me to the recovery room but I tried to explain that my legs were still numb. She reacted by saying that the numbness should've gone by about 30 minutes earlier. 

Ignoring my condition, she tried to move me from the bed to a wheelchair. I knew I needed assistance so another nurse was called in. They had to lift my legs off the bed—this should have been a sign of my condition—and then they tried to move me from the bed.

As expected, I immediately fell to the ground. While trying to lift me from the floor, the primary nurse told me firmly to try and stand up. I exclaimed in frustration, "Didn't you understand when I said 'I can't feel my legs'?"

As soon as my mom came to know about all this, she gave them a piece of her mind. Henceforth, I never saw that specific nurse again.

The Worst Thing My Doctor Told MePexels

47. That’s More Than A Bad Day

In 2009, my partner, to whom I was engaged for just 36 hours, passed away due to a pulmonary embolism triggered by birth control. A couple of days before, she'd been troubled by shortness of breath, so I took her to the doctor. He dismissed it as an issue related to asthma and advised us not to worry. I found it odd, given that she never suffered from asthma.

After her funeral, I scheduled a meeting with her doctor. His indifferent response shocked me. He justified his error by stating, "This is a medical practice, sometimes we have good days, and other times we have bad ones.”

Before I lost my cool and tackled the doctor, her father intervened and held me back. I couldn't believe such a negligent remark could come from a healthcare professional.

The Worst Thing My Doctor Told MePexels

48. The Bearer Of Bad News

One morning, I found myself awakening in a hospital. A nurse scurried out of the room, shouting, "He’s come to!" Soon, the doctor made his way in, urging me to wiggle my toes. Feeling confused, I questioned my surroundings and the unfolding scenario, but his insistence on toe movement came stronger. 

Prompted once more, I raised my questions, and he practically snapped, “Wriggle your toes”. "But I am wriggling them", I responded. His forthcoming revelation was absolutely chilling.

In a matter-of-fact manner, he declared, “You can no longer walk.” Just like that, at the tender age of 21, I discovered I was a paraplegic. Apparently, I’d gotten into a single-vehicle accident where I was propelled roughly 70-80 feet from the car, causing my spine to misalign extraordinarily. 

I have no recollection of the accident itself, however. The stark image of my interaction with the doctor, though, is forever etched in my memory, even after 31 years.

The Worst Thing My Doctor Told MeFreepik,freepik

49. Bait & Switch

I used a video call service to consult a doctor because I was feeling quite unwell for some time. Since we only had 15 minutes, I quickly shared my symptoms and concerns, suspecting it might be a urinary tract infection and respiratory infection. 

I also voiced my other theories based on symptom analysis. Disregarding my specific location details, she diagnosed me with valley fever during our conversation, until our session got abruptly ended at the 15-minute mark.

I expected to find a prescription in her follow-up email, but what I discovered left me stunned. The doctor had actually concluded that I had somatic symptom disorder—implying that my illness was just in my head! Instead of prescribing medicine, she suggested I should see a psychologist!

Despite my telling her that I hadn't visited any regions where valley fever is prevalent, she jumped to this diagnosis. Frustrated, I decided to see my regular physician who ran a few tests and found I was suffering from a respiratory infection and a serious kidney infection! After about 10 days of medication, I felt perfectly fine again.

I was beyond frustrated with that so-called professional's poor diagnosis.

The Worst Thing My Doctor Told MePexels

50. Automatic F

I'm living with cystic fibrosis, and while the medic who first diagnosed me was rather insensitive, another individual almost matches him in terms of insensitivity—an aspiring doctor.

I once enjoyed my time on a Tinder date with a medical student, who seemed really enthusiastic about me. However, barely into my first cocktail, he calmly told me he wasn't really there to get to know me romantically. Rather, he had a goal—to garner more knowledge for an upcoming exam. 

He had taken a medical ethics course, offered by our university's philosophy professor for extra credits, which revolved around the ethical aspects of genetic testing for cystic fibrosis before implantation.

I was taken aback, to say the least. Considering that I was a philosophy student and cystic fibrosis patient, his thought was that I could shed some light on the topic—why some people argue against discarding embryos detected with the condition. 

As he put it, wouldn't it be a bad thing to pass this to others? Wouldn't my stance be in favor of discarding such embryos? His audacity was bewildering. He genuinely believed he could invite me out, make me feel special with a drink, only to interrogate me about whether people with my illness should be born or not. 

And all for the sake of enhancing his grades in a medical ethics class. That too without clearly stating his intentions beforehand—even though it wouldn't make it any less inappropriate.

He managed to get me all dressed up, not for a date, but for getting his answers quickly and effortlessly than studying from a textbook.

The Worst Thing My Doctor Told MePexelsSources: ,

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