Dear Dr. McGorgeous,
Because our time is limited to an office visit once a month and a handful of surgeries (which don't count since I'm sedated), I'm writing this to help you understand, as a doctor, what happens when you leave the room and literally and figuratively wash your hands of me each month. When I leave, I limp up to the receptionist and set up my next appointment. I wonder when I won't have to do this anymore. Strangers overhear me talking about needing to see a Rheumatologist and ask me whether or not I'm even in my 30s yet. I limp out to my car and wonder if I'm ever EVER going to stop hurting. I drive back to work. Did you know I'm supposed to be a surgeon? It's true. I've wanted to be a doctor since I was in 5th grade. For the last 15 years, when I've imagined this scenario, I was the one in the white coat, not the one laying on the exam table. Did you know I had to put medical school on hold? Do you know that it kills me to have done that? I made it so far......through college, through activities, through volunteering, through research. I was in the middle of studying for the MCAT when I got hurt. Did you know that? That time is ticking away on my ability to make this dream happen, and I can't and WON'T keep going with it right now. I wouldn't trust me as my surgeon. I wouldn't be able to make it through a 30 minute surgery without being distracted by my own pain and I can't in good conscience subject people to potential errors because of my distraction. Did you know that I think about this when I have a bad day at work? How much I'd rather be scrubbing in on a surgery than doing my current job? When I first decided to become a doctor, I wanted to be a pediatric cardiologist. This was also before I knew what a residency was. I've jumped around from specialty to specialty over the last decade and a half, but now I doubt I'll ever get the chance to do it at all. I wonder how something as stupid as an ankle could ruin almost everything I've ever worked towards. I think about the friendships I've lost and ended because people can't or won't be supportive. I feel sorry for the friends who remain because they're stuck with me. And don't get me wrong, the pain hurts, but every once in awhile I'll catch a glimpse of my ankle and that hurts too because it reminds me that I'm scarred for life. I'm too tired of this to be vain anymore. I don't care that you've cut and re-cut me. I care that if I choose to expose my leg, I'm inviting stares and questions from total strangers. I wore a dress to a wedding last week and I had to talk about it all night. I lay in bed at night and sometimes I can't sleep because of pain. Sometimes I can't sleep because of stress. Sometimes I can't sleep because I've had a really good day and I start thinking about all of the yoga I'm going to do, and walks I'm going to go on, and high heels I'm going to wear when this is all over. I take the pills you tell me to even though I hate pills. Did you know that before I was hurt, I wouldn't even take a tylenol for a headache? And now I own a pill organizer because there's too many not to confuse. So this is what happens after you leave the room. I would never say that you don't treat me like a human being. Actually, you have the best bedside manner of any doctor I've ever had. I just don't know if you really realize just how far this reaches into my life. And I want you to. I want you to understand my urgency, and my frustration, and my anger at no one in particular. Why I'm fighting so damn hard every day. And I'm scared ALL THE TIME that you're going to walk in one day and tell me you've done all you can for me. I need you to keep fighting this too. I hope you understand.