I Thought It Was a Science?

Earlier this week, I read a post on one of the HealthCentral sites by one of their medical experts. This doctor started by saying she did not “believe in” a particular medical problem and continued to explain how she had come around by experiencing it herself. The particular site, doctor and medical problem are irrelevant to my rant today, so I'm not going to link to the post because there's no need to flame the woman. However, as I was reading the post, I could feel my blood pressure rise and all that’s in my head was a giant "Pardon Me?!". Which has followed me around for days now.

It reminded me of the numerous other incidences I've heard of and read about, as well as experienced myself, in which a doctor didn't believe in something, believe their patient's experience of symptoms and as a consequence, people have gone without treatment, have been in excruciating pain, have had their bodies irreversibly damaged by a disease that that doctor didn't "believe in".

And then I saw the latest poll over at the HealthCentral Chronic Pain site that asked the question "do you think your doctor is hesitant to prescribe some medications for chronic pain?" And the options for answers were "won't prescribe under any circumstances", "very hesitant" and "will prescribe in the right circumstances" and right next to it, there was a link to a quite excellent rant by a doctor on the suspicion cast on physicians who prescribe narcotics for chronic pain and how the "war on drugs" is curtailing their ability to treat patients. Which means even when you can persuade a doctor that your pain is real, they're afraid of giving you what you need because the DEA might come crashing through the door. But today I am not ranting about government idiocy, I am ranting about physician idiocy.

When did people who have chronic pain (or other symptoms) become presumed guilty until proven innocent? (Hypothetical question, the answer is "since always") Why is it that our legal system insists that in order to convict someone on of a crime, you have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they did it, but if you need the big drugs to control your big pain so you can get back to your life instead of lying whimpering on the couch, you have to jump through years of hoops and tests in order to persuade your doctor that you are not a junkie seeking a cheap high, but actually have the kind of pain (or whatever) that ruins your life while they lollygag and wander around "not believing in" your experience?

Because when I say "ruins your life", it really does ruin your life. Big enough pain can take away your job, your marriage, your kids, your house, your everything, up to and including your life, as recently happened when Carla, one of the community members on the Chronic Pain site who had fibromyalgia, decided that she could no longer live with not just intense, unbearable pain, but with a medical system that repeatedly told her it was all in her head. And after years of being viewed as suspect and/or crazy - I don't know which is worse - she took a voluntary exit the same week that I, for the first time, saw a commercial for Lyrica targeted at people with fibromyalgia. And I remember the validation I felt, a moment of such relief that finally, this condition is recognized as something real enough for a drug company to make money off a remedy for it. And then I read about Carla.

When, exactly, did it become a religion? Last time I checked, I’m pretty sure being a doctor was based in science, not faith. In a vow to "first, do no harm", not "first, your patients will try to trick you to get the pills – chances are they aren’t really sick". And although I hear you saying that maybe a scientific approach is part of the problem, as doctors tend to not believe anything they can't see on an x-ray, you'd think with a history of disease after disease after disease being proven to exist after an extended period of people having said disease being shut up in the loonybin because "it's all in their heads", they might be more open to actually considering believing what their patients tell them.

When I run the world, it’ll be different...