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Dutchess_III's avatar

Have you ever had to deal with a doctor, or someone in the medical profession, who seemed short on common sense?

Asked by Dutchess_III (42493points) June 7th, 2016

I have, on more than one occasion, but the most recent involved my daughter, who has a degenerative spine disease. For the last 10 months she has been in extreme pain. She had surgery in January, which helped some but not a lot.

She had to quit working and is now on disability. Needless to say she’s learned a lot about the disease, and as everything progressed she kept trying to tell the doctor that there was something else contributing the constant pain. She kept saying there was something else. They wouldn’t listen.

She asked if she should see a chiropractor, they said, “Absolutely not.”

She can barely walk, and when she does it’s a hobble, like an old woman, hanging on to furniture as she tries to move through the house. She’s 37. Her 1 year wedding anniversary just passed.

There have been whole days when she couldn’t get out of bed, because of the pain. She had terrible, constant shooting pains up and down her right leg.

They’ve had her on powerful prescription meds for almost a year, which she hates. She tries to avoid taking them, for fear of getting addicted, but sometimes she just can’t fight her way through.

It’s been a heartbreaking, horrible ordeal. She can’t go on walks, she can’t camp, she can’t do yard work, or work in her beloved garden. She can barely tolerate a car ride, and collapses in pain and exhaustion afterward.

This last 10 months has just been a nightmare. She’s never said it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s contemplated suicide.

She called me yesterday and said, “I’ve been holding off on telling you something till I was sure but….well, last Thursday I fell…..”

I almost threw up.

She was sitting in a “zero gravity” chair, and a spider crawled up on the arm rest. She reacted by jumping up in terror (the big sissy!) and when she did, her leg went out and she crashed down on her right hip.

There was a tremendous popping of her hip and her back, all up and down. She lay there, frozen in terror, thinking she was a paraplegic now…..then, she said, “Mom. I got up. I just….got UP!! I just STOOD UP!!! I didn’t have to hold on to anything to pull my self up! I just STOOD UP!! All by myself!!”

So fuck the specialists, she made an appointment with a chiropractor, for yesterday.

He took x-rays of her back and said her hip, and back, just below the surgery incision, had to have been an inch out before she fell, and they were still about a1/2 an inch out. And this had been going on for years. He said something about there being a groove where the bones kept sliding back and forth.

He realigned her back and hip.

She said the release of pain, for the first time in so many months, was immediate! It almost made her sick to her stomach.
She said she feels like she’s floating!

When telling me this, she was alternating between euphoric laughter, and hysterical anger and crying about everything she’d been going through for so long…for NO REASON.

She can walk like a normal person.

I’m just left breathless, torn between utter, shocked, magical relief and unbelievable anger.

Sorry this is so long…long as it is, it doesn’t begin to cover the hell she’s been through these last months.

How could this happen? I said, “Surely the specialists have been taking X-rays! How could they miss it?”
She said, “They didn’t miss it. They ignored it.”

Have you ever had to deal with anything like this?

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37 Answers

Mariah's avatar

I had no idea about your daughter’s illness. It sounds terrible, but it’s wonderful to hear she might’ve made a break-through.

I have a great deal of respect for most doctors but yes, I have dealt with incompetent ones and it nearly cost me my life.

When I was 17 I was on IV nutrition for 2 months due to my Crohn’s disease. I had a large tube in my brachial artery which extended into my heart. It was hooked up to a 2 liter bag of liquid nutrients that I carried around like a backpack.

I had also recently started a new hardcore intravenous immunosuppressant drug for my Crohn’s. I had been really horribly ill for about 4 months at this point, but the new drug was starting to get things under control. I had begun getting out of bed and walking around the neighborhood and was getting my strength back.

In mid June I started feeling sore all over. It was getting progressively worse and my parents and I got worried enough to go to the local ER. Very small local hospital. The doctors there didn’t do any tests, they only talked to me. They decided my soreness was probably either a side effect of my new medication or caused by my resuming physical activity after having been bedridden for so long, or some combination thereof. They sent me home.

Another day or two passes – I don’t really remember the timeline that well anymore – and I am in severe pain. I cannot walk and my mom is pushing me around the house in her rolling office chair. We go to another ER farther away at a larger hospital for a second opinion. They take a blood culture and admit me overnight.

I wake up the next morning shivering uncontrollably. I’m pushing my call button, my mom is in the doorway looking for a nurse, and at the same time, a doctor is running down the hall to my room because she has just looked at my blood culture and some nasty shit grew on it overnight. Next thing I know there are 14 doctors and nurses in my room, and they are putting IV’s in my ankles because all the veins in my arms are already taken up. A nurse is pumping the biggest syringe of saline I’ve ever seen in my life into me just to keep my blood pressure artificially elevated, because it has plummeted and I’m in danger of organ failure.

I am experiencing septic shock. My catheter for my nutrition has been infected for about a week now. I was septic when the doctors at the first ER sent me away.

I don’t recall if my parents ever contacted anyone from the first hospital to let them know of the very nearly fatal mistake they made by sending me away without doing tests. Probably they didn’t. Probably they still don’t know.

Mimishu1995's avatar

Two years ago I was under pressure to complete some school project. My mental state was completely fine, I was just too overworked, tired and pissed off. One day while working with my team I couldn’t control myself and went on panic mode. One of the team member took it the wrong way that I got some health problem and some days later reported it back to my parents. They were horrified and tried to find a way to cure me, despite my repeated assurance that I was fine. Finally I was forced to go see a “well-known” therapist a couple of blocks away.

My therapist pissed me off to no end. My first impression on seeing him was that he was so cocky, like he knew everything in the world. He asked me sime questions about my age, job… and seemed very confused about what my problem was (Yeah! Because I had no problem at all!). Not until when I intentionally dropped a hint that I had been under stress at school that he looked like he had his “ah-hah” moment, like he just made a great discovery. Really? Why didn’t he ask if I had stress right from the beginning? He then concluded that I needed to be on long-term medication and it started several months of expensive bills and endless appointment. Eventually maybe my parents began to sense something wrong with him and stopped buying the medication. I still don’t know what he thought was wrong with me. He never told me anyway.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Advice I was given a long time ago, don’t go to the Ford dealer for a Buick. The surgical profession does not send people to a chiropractor. It not a case of them not having common sense the only see things in surgical terms.

JLeslie's avatar

I have countless stories of doctors being incompetent or narrow minded.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Tropical_Willie so if the surgeons see a problem that can’t be treated surgically they just dismiss that problem? Why don’t they refer her to a doctor who can treat the problem? Her alignment issues accounted for 80% of her unbearable pain over the last 10 months. Agonizing pain that could have been avoided.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III First, surgeons will almost always recommend surgery. Second, each specialty tends to think only in their box. Third, if a doctor believes they are the right doctor to treat something they aren’t going to recommend you see another doctor. Fourth, if they recommend another doctor odds are they got the referral name from your insurance list, not because they know the doctor.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Thanks, @JLeslie

They didn’t see an alignment problem, just something that needed surgery. It is not malicious but something they don’t comprehend.

Darth_Algar's avatar

For what it’s worth chiropractors aren’t medical professionals and aren’t licensed and regulated the way the medical profession is. To add to that the field has a history of psudoscience and quackery, and even to this day many chiropractors push snake oil “alternative medicine” and deride sound medical science (such as vaccinations). The field of chiropractic practice itself was started by a dude who pushed the idea that all disease was caused by a misalignment of the spine. And since they’re not really regulated there’s a greater likelihood that you’ll end up with some quack chiropractor who’ll do more damage to your spine than good.

Most medical doctors now accept that there is some legitimacy to chiropractic practice , and that some treatments may be helpful in some cases, but the field in general is still viewed with suspicion and there’s good reason for that.

JLeslie's avatar

^^Yeah, I don’t think any doctor recommends a chiropractor. You make some great points. I myself have never been to a chiropractor. It scares me. I have had back, neck, and shoulder injuries, I’ve had friends swear by their chiropractor, and I won’t go.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Yeah, I’ve had friends swear their chiropractor has made all the difference for them. And I’ve had one friend who ended up in worse pain after visiting a chiropractor.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I know that about chiropractors, @Darth_Algar. But in this case that one seemed to have worked some kind of freaking miracle. There is no doubt about that.

@Tropical_Willie she started out with her regular doctor who referred her to a back specialist. From there, I don’t know how she ended up with surgery. To me it’s like, they take an X-ray of her back, and notices, “Hey! She ingested a button battery! It’s right there in her intestine, leaking acid!”
“Well, we’re here to look at her back, so forget the battery.”
What happened to “First, do no harm”?

@Mariah I just wanted to touch base with you. I’ve been slammed, getting the house ready for company. When I went to bed I realized I’d only replied to @Tropical_Willie, and neglected to tell you that I read every single word of your horrific experience. My heart just went out to you. An infected cath? How hard is that to check? I just did a slow burn for you.

Back to battle. You’d think the Queen of England was coming to visit my house, with white gloves, not “just” my dad’s wife. So tired. So sick of Walmart and Eugene in the paint department.

Mariah's avatar

Hey thanks. Good luck with the company!!! D:

Dutchess_III's avatar

Thank God it isn’t the Obamas coming to visit. My husband would have to get a brand new, state-of-the-art, $30,000 bar b que grill and put in a whole new back patio, complete with fire place and 100” flat screen TV.

cazzie's avatar

‘Flaws in aircraft design do not prove the existence of magic carpets.’ Ben Goldacre. https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/chiropractic-moves-into-transporation/

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

First of all, with all sincerity I am happy for your daughter in the relief she ”found”, I would have a take on why or for what reason that spider just happened when it did, but I won’t go there. I will say it is another brick to show man doesn’t half know what he feels he knows. I have had medical personnel that were spot on with medical issues I have had and the appropriate fix for them, as well as other issues I still have where they seem to guess what it is or failed to exhaustively check for every contingent other than the usual suspects. Doctors and nurses are but mortal men and women who are not perfect, so mistakes can be expected.

Dutchess_III's avatar

She freaks out over bugs. And lizards.

@Hypocrisy_Central Yeah, well, I don’t expect them to make stupid mistakes. People’s LIVES are on the line.

My ex boss had a friend who went to the Dr. late in the afternoon on a Friday, complaining of chest pains. He just wanted to get out of there, so he just gave her a script for pain pills and told her to check back on Monday.
That night she died of a heart attack.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Yeah, well, I don’t expect them to make stupid mistakes.
Stupid, out of ignorance, a fluke, or short-sighted, they are humans, and with humans there will always be failure.

Dutchess_III's avatar

“Well, I really want to go home early because it’s Friday afternoon, so come back Monday.” And she dies from a heart attack that night. Simple human error.
I’m sure you’d be so quick to blow it off if it was one of your kids that your doctor just didn’t feel like seeing that afternoon.

Darth_Algar's avatar

If she was having chest pains why did she not go to the ER? Did she just go to her GP or what? Did he advise her to go to the ER? Did she downplay her symptoms while at the doctor? (Yes, this happens just as much as folks who play up their symptoms.)

Details matter.

Dutchess_III's avatar

SHE WENT TO HER DOCTOR, @Darth_Algar. He obviously didn’t think it was anything important because he just told her to come back in on Monday. He did not send her to the ER.
But you want to blame the dead woman, go ahead.

Darth_Algar's avatar

And what did she expect her general physician to do? She should have gone to the ER in the first place. Folks can try to blame doctors all they want, but the fact is responsibility for your health and well being is just as much on you. You have to be an active, competent participant in your own health. If you’re having chest pains go to the emergency room. If you’re having stomach pains that last for weeks (or longer) go to the gastroenterologist. You general physician is just that, general. He maintains a broad overview of your general health, but he’s limited in what he can diagnose and treat. He cannot provide specialized care. He cannot diagnose or treat a heart attack. He neither has the specialized knowledge to, nor is he equipped to do so.

Mariah's avatar

All doctors should at least encourage someone who needs extra care to be seen by someone else, if they themselves are not equipped to handle the situation, rather than telling them they’re fine and that they can go home. You can read my similar story at the top of this thread that almost resulted in my death at age 17.

Dutchess_III's avatar

And she should have known she was having a heart attack? It could have been any number of things. Could have been heartburn, for crying out loud. She was worried enough to go to the doctor. She expected her physician to give her advice, which he did, and she followed it. Apparently he thought it was nothing to worry about. HE, with all of his education and “experience,” should have known better than her, don’t you think?

I’ll go look again @Mariah.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Reread @Mariah‘s story here @Darth_Algar. Was it all her fault. Should she have known better than all the doctors with their years of experience and education?

Darth_Algar's avatar

@Dutchess_III

Again, a general practitioner does not have the means on hand to diagnose or effectively treat a heart attack. And considering that you can’t just walk into your GP’s office, you’ve gotta make an appointment, the appointment is going to take at least a couple of days to get in to see him, even in a small town. How long do you sit around having chest pains before you think “hm, maybe this is something that should be checked out right now”?

And I don’t know why you’re so obsessed with assigning blame to one or the other. If the doctor isn’t necessarily at fault then the woman must be? If the woman isn’t at fault then the doctor must be? Yeah, it doesn’t always work like that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It doesn’t take a couple of days here, @Darth_Algar. You can just walk in and they will squeeze you in within an hour or so.

Are you suggesting that she knew her symptoms were serious and choose to ignore them? The doctor should have referred her to the ER. Not send her home.

A GP is supposed to be a medical professional. They’re supposed to know more than the average Joe on the street about medical stuff.

You’re the one intent on assigning blame, to the patient, for not being able to diagnose her own symptoms. She was a teacher. She had a bachelor’s degree in education. She was not a doctor, with a PhD in medicine. She went to her doctor to diagnose her medical symptoms. The doctor fucked up. She’s dead.

cazzie's avatar

I don’t think we should treat Doctors as if they know everything. We still need to be our loudest advocates. I’ve heard too many stories of walk in cases being sent home, only to come back and end up in ICU.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I am absolutely certain that if she’d known that she was having a heart attack, and not just having indigestion, that she would have taken herself to the ER.

Just like I’m certain that if I had known that my lungs were slowly filling up with fluid over the course of 3 months, I would have gone to the ER. But I didn’t know. I didn’t know what was wrong, and I certainly didn’t know how fucking serious it was. And all the doctors I went to said it was just a pulled muscle and prescribed muscle relaxers and pain pills. (Including the doc who sent the lady I mentioned above, home. He was my GP at the time. I dropped him as soon as I got out of the hospital.)

We treat the doctors like they should at least know more than we do. Is that wrong?

cazzie's avatar

In some cases, yes, obviously, because otherwise you die.

Dutchess_III's avatar

And how could my acquaintance have known that this was one of those cases, when the doctor obviously wasn’t worried? How could she have known?

cazzie's avatar

Like I said, otherwise, you die. Another case of having to engrave, ‘I told you I was sick’ on a gravestone. It happens a lot.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@Dutchess_III

Pardon for the delayed response, I haven’t been online much over the last few days.

Frankly, I find the notion that you can just walk in to be seen by your GP hard to believe. I’ve lived in towns ranging from -1,000 people to 200,000+ and that’s never been the case for myself or anyone I’ve ever known. It always takes at least a couple, usually several, days to get into see a GP. That’s why you hear “if this is a medical emergency please go to your nearest ER” so often.

And no, saying that one needs to be actively involved in their own health is not the same as assigning blame. You, however, are clearly assigning blame to the doctor here. Here’s the thing – despite what many, perhaps ever yourself, might like to believe, doctors are not all knowing. And a general physician is particularly limited in what he can diagnose and treat. A GP is not equipped to diagnose or treat serious conditions. They’re there to treat generalized and non-critical care. If you go to your GP it’s because you don’t feel it’s something serious. If you don’t think it’s potentially serious then the GP doesn’t necessarily have any reason to believe otherwise. Nor does he have the ability to determine otherwise. For example: one of the ways a heart attack is diagnosed is by running blood tests. During a heart attack certain proteins are released into the bloodstream. A GP cannot run blood tests. He can draw blood, but the lab work cannot be done there at his office. It has to be send off to a test and the results sent back to the doctor. Again, you’re looking at a turn around of several days.

Neither do you know what was said between this woman and her doctor. You do not have knowledge of what symptoms she may have described, how serious she regarded her pains, whether she was fully honest about how she was feeling or if she may have downplayed her symptoms (yeah, people do that just as much as some exaggerate them).

Sometimes people die and it’s no one’s fault in particular. But you can’t necessarily expect a doctor to fix what they’re not equipped for.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@Darth_Algar I can get same day appointment (maybe with one of his PA’s), blood drawn (lab is in his office), urine sample (same lab) and x-rays (he has a machine and tech). He cannot do lipid test that takes a couple of weeks to get back.

If it is bad I go to ER ==> shortness of breath, rapid pulse, chest pain or bad coughing.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Darth_Algar I appreciate that that is your experience, not being able to be seen on the first day if it’s really important. It has not been mine.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Darth_Algar Also, as I said, he was my doctor for a few years as well. He blew off the signs of my pneumonia, said it was a pulled muscle.

cazzie's avatar

My father went through most of his life not knowing he had only one kidney and thinking he had had a bout of pleurisy in his late 40’s when it had been a mild heart attack.

@Dutchess_III if you knew you were being ‘blown off’ why didn’t you act accordingly?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I didn’t know I was being blown off. I was half out of my mind. I really couldn’t think for myself. I guess I just took his word for it, came home and took the pain pills and muscle relaxers he prescribed. I can’t even remember the two months leading up to my hospitalization, so I can’t even tell you how I was really feeling, or what he said or I said. I faintly remember my back hurt.
I only know I went to all the different doctors and the local ER at least once during Sept and Oct, because of the bills I started paying on after I got out of the hospital.
That last week, Rick went out of town, and apparently I quit going into work and just stayed in bed the entire time. I do know I got up a couple of times to try and work from home, because I had the emails I sent. I sounded amazingly lucid for as how whacked out I was.
Another couple of days and there was a good chance I would have died.

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