Open Letter To General Practitioners

This was inspired by the article “Open Letter to Normals”.

These are the things I would like for you to understand before you see me…

Please understand that being sick doesn’t mean that I am not still a human being. You may need to poke and prod on me, take my blood, and submit me to radiation, but please realize that I am a PERSON with FEELINGS. Please discuss all tests, diagnosis, and treatments WITH ME instead of just TELLING ME what’s going to happen.

Most of the patients you see may have a cold or the flu, but I have been sick FOR YEARS. I am not your typical patient, I am a patient with a CHRONIC ILLNESS. You will probably see me more often than your typical patient, but that does not give you the right to say “so, you’re back…AGAIN”. This does not make me a hypochondriac. Between my body working against me and the side effects from medications working against me, I am under constant attack – and I will need your help to get through it. Do not just assume I am here because I want to be, or to torture you. I am the one being tortured.

I am unlike most patients. I KNOW MY BODY. I have had plenty of time to get to know all of its quirks. When I tell you that something is wrong, then SOMETHING IS WRONG. Do not assume to know how I feel. LISTEN TO ME and I will tell you. Sometimes, I will even be able to recognize what’s wrong. Don’t dismiss what I tell you because you think that it is impossible for me to know. Listen to the symptoms, do your tests, and you just might see that I am right. Why? BECAUSE I KNOW MY BODY.

Yes, I may have specialists. However, it it your job as my PRIMARY CARE PROVIDER to be my PRIMARY doctor and the link between myself and my specialists. If you are so busy with your cold and flu patients that every time I come to see you, you waste my time by sending me to my specialist, then I can and will find another doctor who is not too busy to make me a priority. For example, I should not have to call four different offices to get medication refills when I can call you and you can refill them all for me. However, know when enough is enough. If you are stumped as far as what to do next with my care, then we can discuss my going to a specialist.

Again, I am not your ordinary patient. I do my homework. It’s even possible that I know more about my condition than you do. So do not try to sugar-coat the facts. I AM A BIG GIRL (or boy) and I prefer you speak openly and honestly with me about what is going on. If you don’t know, then SAY YOU DON’T KNOW. I will only respect you more for your honestly and then we can work TOGETHER on what to do next. This might be a good time to send me to the above mentioned specialist.

Trust me, I understand that dealing with a patient with a chronic illness is no day in the park. But with honestly, respect, and integrity, we can work together to facilitate my healthcare for both of us.

What do you think about this open letter? Are there any changes you would make? Would you show a copy of this letter to your General Practitioner the next time you go, or when going to see a new one?


32 thoughts on “Open Letter To General Practitioners

  1. Excellent!! I totally agree with you … I have become a patient now. I understand how you are feeling perfectly and I’ve never had a chronic illness. It makes me think that it’s only an assembly line ….. sad to say I have been there on both ends. SMH ….


      • It’s sad medicine has turned out this way. I remember why I wanted to be a physician …. to help. Those days are long gone. Also the days of being rich as a doctor (unless you have an invasive specialty) are gone …. so, to me, it’s another job.
        I’ve done the “assembly line” …. It was bc of the “system” ….. Doctors can’t get away from the “system” … Don think they ever will and bc of that the assembly line will remain, IMHO.


  2. Well written Joy, I would’ve shown this to my previous GP but my current one is great at seeing me regularly. You’ve inspired me to write one to him. Keep your eye out for it in the next few days/week 🙂


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  4. My last two GPs have been good, but the office staff at my previous GP… oh, they sucked.

    I know office managing, reception work, medical assistant work, nurse practitioner, etc. can be very thankless, and that their jobs can be very stressful and difficult, but I’ve run into situations where someone in support staff jerked me around for no good reason that I could see.

    I have to see a nurse practitioner for a specialist I’ve seen Monday, and I’m dreading it. She was rather pushy the last time.


      • I hope so. A lot has changed since the last time. I hope that she’ll consider those things, that I jumped through a lot of hoops for a stimulator, and that she’ll change her mind and her reluctance about going ahead with it. Also, I hope she isn’t so pushy about a bariatric procedure (for weight loss) again, because I’d have to re-jump through a lot of the same hoops.


          • No 😦 I had a little dance with Ms. Rhea the day I was supposed to have the trial procedure done at the pain clinic, and the doctor didn’t want to risk infection. I asked the trial nurse if I could reschedule, and she said, “No, we only do this procedure once or twice a year.” (GAH!)

            So I’ve gone back to another doctor that suggested it first, to say, “You thought insurance wouldn’t cover it, but it will,” and to tell the nurse, “You thought I might not be a good candidate, but the psychologist who gave me an eval thinks I am,” and list out a half dozen things I’ve done since I last saw her, and if I’m feeling especially smart alecky, ask, “So, which way to you want to slice me up now? I think the stimulator would be a better option than the lap band or whatever right now.”


          • The other doctor said no. I got a message from his nurse (the nurse practitioner I was referring to) today while I was out grocery shopping and getting lunch with Cimmorene. Even after they got the notes for the psych eval.

            *sigh* yay, time to call my physician’s nurse tomorrow and ask to switch the referral back to the pain clinic, but again, they won’t do any stimulator procedures for another 6-12 months.


          • No, they won’t. I mentioned it, but the message from the nurse was flat that the doctor was NOT interested.

            So I’ve got to go back to the pain center, and wait.


          • I’m so very sorry. I really have no better advice than to just be strong and look forward to the next trial. Whatever gets you through the day, know what I mean?


          • I do. I’ll be okay. I’m much more concerned for my father, who is especially struggling today. He has been sick with chronic illnesses for a long time, and he is struggling once again keeping the will to live.


          • That’s a hard one. These chronic illnesses will do it every time. They continually down until the will to survive withers. I hope he begins to get his fight back soon. I’ll be praying for him and for you.


          • Hmmm… “will to survive withers”… both he and I prefer Bill Withers.

            I’d link up to my “Bill Withers and At-One-Ment With the Father” post, save linking usually trips comment moderation limbo.


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