Dear Doctors: A Request From Your Chronic Illness Patient

Doctor with stethoscope

By Arianna Nyswonger

Dear doctors and therapists,

This is your patient, and I am writing this letter because I want you to hear me out. I want you to listen to me. I don’t want to be told lies or given sugarcoated answers. I want you to help me find out what’s happening to me.

If I tell you I’m having issues and need to talk, or if I tell you the pain is getting worse and want to know what we can do about it, or if I tell you I need assistance moving and ask for a device that can help — hear me out. Don’t ignore me. I am doing my best to live my life like any other young adult, but being told that you can’t or won’t help makes it harder for me to do so.

I need your help. We must work together to make things better. We must work together to find answers. A doctor-patient relationship must include both sides working together. Things won’t get accomplished unless we both put our heads together and find the answers. I can’t do it on my own, and you can’t either.

If I say my medication isn’t working, let’s find another one to try. If I am fearful of lowering something without adding another, please hear me out. Most likely there is reason for that fear. If I tell you that my pain is horrible, please believe me. Just because I am not crying doesn’t mean it’s not there.

What would I like to hear from you? I’d like to be told I am not faking it, that this is truly happening to me. I’d like to hear that you believe me and that you care. That you will do everything in your power to help me. I want you to acknowledge my fear and sadness. I want your support and kindness every single step of the way.

But my biggest request is that you listen. That’s it. Have a heart. My pain is not all in my head, and I’m not faking my pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It’s hard as it is to deal with this, but even harder when those I need to help me won’t. Please hear me out and help me.

Sincerely,
A chronic illness patient

 

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