When you are disabled often you have to go to the doctor more than abled people because your on more medications than them and it’s the only way you can continue to get your meds. When you have a good doctor you have been going to for years it’s not nearly as bad because you know what kind of care you will be given. We all would love it if good doctors never retired but unfortunately, even doctors get old and want to spend some time in retirement. There is nothing more stressful as a disabled person than having to see a new doctor because you never know if the new doctor is going to understand or if it’s going to be a year’s search for someone new. Abled people don’t like to have to switch doctors but it’s a lot easier when you don’t have a chronic condition because you aren’t limited on who you can see, unlike abled people. In this post, I am going to talk about why it’s more stressful for disabled people to switch doctors than it is for abled people.

Doctors aren’t always knowledgeable in our conditions- When you are disabled your worst nightmare is when a doctor that you have been seeing for years retires because it’s never an easy fight to find a new one that knows their stuff. Many physicians have never heard of Spina Bifida so when they say Spina what that is your cue to run unless it’s a primary care physician who doesn’t need extensive knowledge! Disabled can’t just go to anyone because a lot of doctors aren’t knowledgeable in chronic conditions so going to these physicians wouldn’t get them good care. Some disabled people have had multiple surgeries so you don’t want to go to someone that doesn’t know what a stoma is because if you were having stoma issues they wouldn’t know how to fix it and if they were to try there is a good chance they could mess something major up. I have been lucky that some of my pediatric doctors still follow me because it’s really hard to find an adult doctor that understands Spina Bifida.

Sometimes they aren’t sensitive to pain- When I was getting my hip pain diagnosed I had to go to a new doctor because the orthopedist I have been using for years was retiring which was something I knew would one day happen but was hoping it wasn’t going to be this soon. My hips were too advanced for my new orthopedist to treat successfully but instead of saying this is not my area of expertise and to go to someone else, he insisted on saying I can do it if you never want to walk again. I got the impression that this doctor was trying to lighten the mood and be funny but excuse me sir on what planet is losing independence hilarious? I did end up going to a more qualified specialist who could do my surgery successfully who was very kind and professional which made me more comfortable because I would live in pain before I would even consider letting someone else try and possibly ruin my life. I don’t expect doctors to always know how to fix me and it wasn’t the fact that this doctor didn’t know how that bothered me and it was how he reacted to my pain that I was bothered by. Try and be sensitive to people in pain because when you live with chronic pain you have an increased risk of committing suicide that only worsens when it’s made fun of.

They want to run unnessary tests- There is nothing more stressful than when you go to see a new doctor with a medical problem and they run all these other tests except the one you need. I don’t when my urologist orders a ultrasound every couple of months the check for bladder stones and kidney problems because I know I have a history of them and it’s only annoying to me when you order all these other tests that have nothing to do with the problem I came in with.

Some doctors are surgery happy– The same orthopedist that couldn’t successfully treat my hip pain also wanted to do all these unnecessary surgeries. He kept talking about how he could put pins in my feet so I wouldn’t have to wear leg braces which sounds lovely but would require surgery to do it. No thank you!! Leg braces can be uncomfortable but they aren’t that terrible I would put myself through another surgery to potentially get out of them. I have had enough surgeries throughout my life and only like to put myself through necessary ones and if it’s not totally necessary I am not doing it. After this surgery, the thought of having another one is just scary to me so I hopefully I will get a break from it for a while. I know sometimes surgery is the only option for treatment but when it isn’t I do always appreciate it when my doctor gives me other options that aren’t surgery and that is when you know you have a good physician!

Not all doctors listen-Sometimes despite what patients are saying about their agonizing pain doctors won’t listen because test results tell a different story. Some doctors will accuse patients of being drug seekers because test results come back normal so they will refuse to treat them. There is nothing worse than not being listened to because you have a condition that is difficult to diagnose and nobody yet fully understands it. There are good doctors that listen to their patients but it’s like finding a needle in a haystack and sometimes patients have to live years in agony before they can celebrate with someone who can get them answers.

They assume I don’t know anything– There is nothing I hate more than when I go to the doctor and they ask me a question and then look at my caregiver for an answer. I am the one that lives with a chronic condition so why are you turning to my caregiver when you ask about my pain levels? They aren’t going to know that because they aren’t in my body and only witness what I am going through but have never actually experienced it. Talk to the disabled person and not their caregivers because we will ask for help if we don’t know the answer to your question.. We don’t need someone else to answer everything for us and know more about our conditions than people give us credit for.

Most disabled people need to go to the doctor at least once a year to keep their insurance but for some disabilities, it’s much more than that because we get sick more often or have medications that require a prescription. Some people like their physicians and don’t mind going every few months but in my experience, most disabled can’t stand their doctors and have nothing good to say about them. Many of my doctors have been retiring so I have had to see some new ones which hasn’t been awful because so far my experience has been pretty good but unfortunately so many disabled people don’t have that same experience. Doctors are only trained to treat medical conditions and not how to interact with disabled people so many of them don’t know how because they aren’t around us often enough. It’s not uncommon for doctors to say rude, insensitive ableist things to disabled people without even realizing how hurtful it is so try not to take it personally but instead politely point it out to them if it really bothers you that much because sometimes that’s all it takes to create change. Does going to the doctor make you more stressed as a disabled person?

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