Living with Chronic Illness

Patient or medical professional: who is the expert?

My relationship with my GP has been difficult in the time leading up to my Fibromyalgia diagnosis and in the period following. But yesterday I experienced a particularly upsetting appointment which led me to consider which of us is the ‘expert’ – patient or professional. Read on for my story.

Mixed medication

 

Medication mix-ups

When officially diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in March this year, the Rheumatologist wrote to my GP recommending my Gabapentin medication increase from 400mg per day to a minimum of 900mg. My GP advised increasing to 600mg per day and I was returning yesterday to discuss the next increase to 800mg.

I picked up my health file (my own records which I take to all appointments) and got ready to leave. I happened to glance at my repeat prescription and did a double-take… 300mg tablets? I take 100mg tablets. I tried not to panic as I looked through my file which confirmed I had been taking 100mg tablets. If my last prescription contained 300mg tablets then had I unknowingly quadrupled my dose? When I checked the packet and saw 300mg tablets, to say I panicked is an understatement. I arrived at the GP shortly after and explained the situation, asking how this could have happened.

 

A very confusing discussion

My GP assured me I had always taken 300mg tablets

  • maybe I have got this wrong I thought

When I pointed him to my Rheumatologist’s letter stating a 400mg dose, the GP stated this must have been an error

  • I became a bit more sceptical

He then told me the Neurologist started me on 300mg tablets

  • I have never seen a Neurologist and it was this same GP who prescribed the Gabapentin and completed all my medication reviews. When I pointed this out, he fumbled through the records not making eye contact with me

As I persisted and said this didn’t reflect our discussions, he said something I found very hurtful:

well the Fibromyalgia can make you confused

 

A relationship damaged beyond repair?

Already having a particularly emotional day, I felt the sting of tears in my eyes. There were so many contradictions that I knew he had made a mistake somewhere. And yet he was the Doctor, the expert, and the authority on the matter. Whereas I was the person with the illness, prone to confusion, who couldn’t possibly be right.

I pushed back the tears, swallowed my pride, and moved the conversation on to how to proceed. Yet I hated having my condition used against me in this way. I don’t think I’ll ever understand what happened but one thing became clear – I need to find a new GP. I’d just like to be clear that I’m not disputing the skills and knowledge of the medical professional, however I too am an expert on how my condition affects my body and my life. I have a contribution which should be listened to. I feel relationships with medical professionals should be based on trust and respect and, sadly, that’s something I’m certain I don’t have.

 

What would you do?

Have you ever experienced a similar situation? How did you handle it? I’d love to hear your experiences, comments and any tips so please leave them below.

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