Chronic Casual Ableism at My PCP

I saw my PCP last week because I have some chronic symptoms that aren’t connected to a cause – things like feeling nauseated, no appetite, restless sleep, constant need to pee. I presumed it was medical menopause. But as usual the doctors make it about my mental health, no matter the symptoms. I’m going to chronicle the experiences. My PCP is part of a big practice affiliated with Allegheny Health Network which has a VERY big mental health practice just across the street. Still …

Here’s how this goes

“What are your symptoms?”

I list symptoms.

“Let’s run some tests.”

Test results are great. My blood pressure and cholesterol are good. My kidneys, liver, and adrenal glands are working fine. My glucose is good (even though I’m fat) and my thyroid checks out fine even though I have protruding eyes a classic sign of thyroid disease. My B12 and iron are good.

My ovaries are great, I’m nowhere near menopause so my natural estrogen is doing its thing.

My heart is good. My lungs are strong if occasionally a little congested. I have no sign of inflammatory disease. My biggest presenting issues are allergic rhinitis and my wonky shoulder/wrists.

So why am I sick?

“You should call your psychiatrist.”

I saw him last week. He reviewed all of this with me. He ruled out this being a med side effect or a psychiatric symptom.

“Well, he may want to run further tests.”

He’s a guy in a borrowed office with a pen, a scale, and a phone. He checks my blood levels. What other tests is he going to run – he’s not FitzSimmons or Dr. Xavier. What resources does a community based psychiatrist have that the PCPs at Allegheny Health can’t access?

So not only are they suggesting its psychosomatic BUT they think my psychiatrist didn’t do his job properly.

I suggested my PCP call my psychiatrist to discuss. No, no, no. They don’t do things like consulting other doctors, especially out of network doctors. She also misread the year old ultrasound of my ovaries which was taken in her actual building, but couldn’t pick up the phone to talk with the gynecological surgeon to sort it out.

This is nothing knew. A year and a half ago, a senior attending PCP made a little whirly motion next to his temple when he asked me if had any schizophrenic symptoms. The crazy gesture was terrible, but I was also unhappy that he conflated my actual diagnosis with schizophrenia and thought I might just happen to forget to mention that diagnosis. I fought AHN/AGH/Highmark over this for months and the best I could do was get them to waive my copayment as a conciliation.

Don’t get me started on the ER doctors who see the word klonopin in my chart and go into “she’s looking for pain meds” mode regardless of why I’m presenting to them.

So this latest incident doesn’t shock me. It is just exasperating mostly because being nauseated is terrible.

I was so irritated by this casual ableism that I did something crazy. I went to WebMD and typed in my symptoms. Then I cut and paste all of the suggestions into the Mychart message to my PCP and suggested we rule them out before telling me I’m crazy.

They decided to refer me to a gastroenterologist.

Stay tuned …


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