by Tammie Allegro
"Your pain is caused by your weight. Just lose a little weight, and the pain should get better. Oh yeah, you should really be exercising, too!" These were the actual words that my former physician said to me when I was explaining the chronic pain and inflammation I had been dealing with for the past two years. I should have run out his office screaming and never returned. Instead, I believed his assessment; I started working out again, and I tried to lose weight. I even returned to the Zumba class that I loved so much, only to find out that moving made everything worse. This created such a sense of failure for me. I began to think I would always be in pain and no one would ever understand me. I resolved to just buck up and be stronger.
Once the pain in my shoulders got to the level of unbearable and began waking me from a dead sleep, my husband encouraged me to try speaking to our new doctor. Since we both had been so pleased with his bedside manner, I considered it. Then, after a couple of months of struggling and losing sleep, I finally gave in and made the appointment. It was a week-and-a-half wait, but when the day finally came, I felt like I was auditioning for a school play. I was so nervous, I thought I was going to lose my mind.
Walking into the office, I got nervous and started talking myself out of it. This pain is all in my head, right? But once they called my name, there was no turning back. I walked into the little room and settled into the office chair. I was ushered into the exam room by a kind nurse who was not much older than my daughter. The sweet young man began asking me what felt like 100 questions. When he was done, he repeated everything back to me to make sure he didn't miss anything. He just kept reassuring me and telling me that he likes to be thorough and that the doctor likes to have as much information as possible. I was thrilled to see how much this young man cared about me and my issue. Never once did he mention my weight or the possibility that I needed to see a therapist. Once he gathered all the information, he went outside and consulted with my doctor. Within a couple of minutes, they were both in the room with me and started to walk through everything I had just divulged. My doctor asked questions about things that I wouldn't have thought to mention. He looked at me with compassion that I hadn't received in so long. He said "Let's get you a diagnosis and take care of the pain for you. It's not your weight; it's chronic, and you need help."
I wanted to hug him and have a good cry. For the first time in years, I felt like there was hope for me. He healed the hurt that my previous doctor caused. This man restored my faith in doctors and in me. I didn't feel crazy anymore. He could see from the look in my eyes that I wasn't making anything up, and I could see from the look in his eyes that he really wanted to help me.
In every facet of life, there are amazing people and unimpressive people. For every doctor who won't listen, there are 100 who not only listen but who actually care. I am realizing in the journey I am now on, that I have the power to decide which type of doctor I want to see. There was a time when I chose my doctor based on how quickly he or she got me in and out of the office. Now, I need a doctor who does things the old-fashioned way. That's what helped me get a diagnosis, and it's what is going to help me get the treatment I need.
Do you have an amazing doctor who heard you and helped you? Share your story. Give them the kudos they deserve.