Ridiculed at the Doctor's Office

Recently, I had an appointment with a doctor, a general practitioner, for a routine check-up. A rare, but important, visit that had nothing to do with Multiple Sclerosis. I expected things to go relatively well. I was a tad worried that my blood pressure might be a little high because I have definitely gotten less movement in recent weeks due to the punishingly hot and humid weather we’ve had. What occurred at the appointment, and what would end up having a huge impact on me, had nothing to do with my blood pressure (although, as you read on, I’m sure you’ll understand that it went through the roof during this visit). When I was called to go back, I got up and started shuffling to the door with my cane (I don’t always use my cane, but, with the weather the way it’s been, I needed it badly). As I approached the door and the nurse who called for me, I was greeted with a laugh and a joking remark about me using a cane. This uneducated and thoughtless action by the nurse would wind up haunting me much more than I expected.

Ignorance in the medical community

I get it, I look youngish, I’ve got a big beard, I don’t look the part of someone who needs a mobility device. I don’t look disabled. Normally, I tend to laugh off this kind of thing. I understand that people don’t get it. They don’t know enough about my illness: all the more reason to continue to spread information about it. Somehow, this incident was different though. Maybe because it was someone in the medical field or maybe because I’ve just generally had a tough summer. It was just a tipping point for me. Normally, I’d either joke about it or try to educate the person. This time, I think I muttered something about MS, and I’m not really sure what else. After an extremely long waiting period (while hearing the doctor laughing with someone in the next room), I decided to just up and leave, almost for fear of my anger getting the better of me.

This incident stayed on my mind

I left there and the incident kept nagging at me, in ways that moments like this seldom do. I tend to have a short memory about things. Literally, because of MS, but also figuratively. I have always been good about putting something to the side and moving on (which, I think is kind of necessary when you have MS; you have to be able to keep going and not get too hung up on something). I always think about what they say when a defensive back in football (I played safety back in the day) gets burned on a play: they just have to forget that play and move on, or it’ll eat them up. I tend to think that way about most things in life, I may get really upset by something, but I usually move on pretty quickly. This incident kept eating me up though.

Is this reflective of society as a whole?

As I thought about it more, I realized it was a cumulative effect of years of similar incidents. It also probably didn’t help that it was a healthcare “professional” that treated me this way. I feel like I just sort of snapped inside, like “Really, I get this at a doctor’s office, too? Is society as a whole that uneducated and ignorant? If someone in the medical field can’t be understanding, what hope do we have? What hope do I have?” The whole thing is just crushing to me, someone who spends so much time trying to educate people on an invisible illness. It also make me think about what others, who aren’t even in the medical field, think when they see me. Are they laughing too? Ridiculing me in their minds?

Appearances don't matter

I’m a bit embarrassed that this has affected me like this. As I said, I’m rarely bothered by incidents like this, but this one has stuck with me. I’m sad to say it might stick with me for some time, too. If there is a point to this ramble, it’s that I’m sure incidents like this happen to a lot of people. Many of whom may not talk about it with anyone; well, I want you to know you can talk about it with me. Hit up the comments if you’ve experienced similar issues. What I really want from all of this though, is for people to share: share this, share other articles about our disease. Share to help increase the knowledge that our disease isn’t picky, it afflicts people of all genders, ages, and races. Share it, because everyone needs to understand that appearances don’t matter and that you never know what someone is going through.

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