A former news reporter shares her struggle with the Good Patient Syndrome

By: Bridget , former news reporter

May 13th, 2010 • Patient AdvocacyPrint Print

I’m a 46 year old female former radio news reporter who is currently unemployed in Michigan, of all places.  I have the following documented health issues:

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Migraines, Osteoarthritis, Venous Insufficiency in my legs from a Deep Vein Thrombosis (thanks to the Pill when I was 21), Factor V Leiden (thrombophillia), Fibromyalgia, and I’ll be tested shortly for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome — which would explain the extreme hypermobility and pain in the joints throughout my body.

The fact I am an articulate and educated female often puts me at odds with the usually male doctors, when I point out an issue or problem I am facing.  

I’m an analytical person who researches things before I bring them up, because I don’t want to waste my time or theirs.  I’m the one who in the late 1990s suggested to my doctor that I be tested for a blood clotting disorder, which it turned out I had.

And just a couple of months ago, I discovered the existence of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, because I have a friend who has it; and she thinks I may have it, based on my symptoms.  I likely do have it, according to several doctors I’ve already seen, but won’t know for sure until I go to the genetics clinic. 

Trust me, I don’t relish being right about having more things wrong with me, but I do know my body.  The angst I feel has been seared in my memory by how hard I’ve had to work to be believed.  Like I have nothing better to do than imagine exotic troubles in my own person.  

I’ve been treated like an overzealous hypochondriac at times, by some of the physicians I’ve encountered, until the tests kept turning up positive for the very disorders they invariably assured me were usually rare.  And, on a comic note,  I’ve had more than one doctor admit to me I have so many health problems going on, they don’t know where to start.  

One specialist, whom I saw for the first time recently, sat down, looked me in the eyes and asked me to help him figure out what my main issue was.  I sat there thinking, yikes, what am I, a doctor?

In all fairness I don’t doubt they deal with more than their share of patients wrongly suspecting illnesses where there are none, but in my case, trust me, I’d love to be wrong.

So am I a “good patient”?  The fact I’ve never once raised my voice or condemned these practitioners for their lack of insight (not to their face, anyway), but rather meekly kept trying to persuade them — sometimes through repeated visits – leads me to argue, yes, I’ve been a very good girl.  I’ve gor my share of co-pay receipts to prove it.

Now, where’s my medal for being so concilliatory?  I hope I’m not allergic to it.


Nathan B November 24th, 2013

I wish it weren’t true that a doctor would treat someone with invisible pain as a hypochondriac.  Unfortunately, doctors ignore what they can’t understand or easily diagnose.  I most definitely have fibromyalgia, but my doctor won’t diagnose it.  He either gives me weak excuses for the severe joint and trigger point pain or he just ignored my complaint completely.  I’ve had one doctor tell me I had golf and tennis elbow in both elbows at the same time and my current doctor says it’s tendonitis in both elbows.  Both doctors completely ignored the shoulder, neck and rib cage pain.  They also both ignored the radial neuropathic pain in my arms, shoulders and hips.  I long for the day when diagnosis of pain disorders is simple and accurate.

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