Worst VA Doctor Experience
First, I want to say that I believe the medical care I’ve received through the Veteran’s Administration has been pretty decent for the most part, especially considering how the VA runs itself. The doctors and staff have been professional and knowledgeable. I have an excellent surgeon that is 100% on top of things. This is the way it should be in any medical facility. Of course, within a large organization, there will always be the opposite. The last doctor assigned to me was there for a few years, which is great to establish a rapport and familiarity with medical issues, building a trusting relationship. Sometime during her last year, her tone and attitude seemed to change, and she quit. (She also looked exhausted.)
A month ago, I emailed my doctor about this side/back twisted issue, and she told me I could either wait until my appointment or go to the emergency room. I hate ERs and won’t go unless I think I’m dying. So I waited and suffered through the month. Yesterday was my yearly appointment with the VA. The night prior, I had written everything I needed to discuss with my doctor. I’ve been waiting on this appointment for a year, and I’m anxious to feel better, fix my issues, and have my life back.
I woke up with more pain, which could have been the result of both the weather and bending a lot the day prior. I thought it was a good day for the pain, since I had my appointment and could show her exactly what is going on. All I want is to resolve the issue. The pain became worse as I attempted to stretch – so bad that I was forced to weirdly bend/sit so the stabbing sensation subsided. The pain and injury or whatever is going on causes shortness of breath, a stabbing sensation, which sometimes makes me lightheaded. I am 99% positive it’s a muscle issue that’s going to require physical therapy. This is my main concern, because I’ve been dealing with it for several months, and it’s screwing with my quality of life and day-to-day activities. If I could afford private insurance, I would gladly use it over the VA, but who can trust insurance companies?
My doctor is the same one I’d written about a year ago that called me to yell at me over the phone when I questioned if they were reading my emails, because of the obvious lack of addressing my issues. The doctor basically called me a liar when I said I sent something that was read with an attached photo. Instead of saying she didn’t receive a photo, she came at me that I never sent it. (I think the VA may have had some email problems going on, as well.) This incident happened before I met this doctor face to face, so that wasn’t a good start and put a bad taste in my mouth. The same doctor sent me antibiotics twice without seeing me or knowing whether or not I actually needed them. Her communication sucked, and sometimes only the nurse responded. This is why I questioned if communication was getting mixed up.
The first time meeting in person, she seemed like a normal doctor. Yesterday was only my 2nd time seeing her in person – and it was the worst experience with any VA doctor I’ve ever had. (Or ever will have, because I’m reporting her and not put up with this shit again!)
Much like our phone conversation went last year, the doctor spoke over me, wouldn’t allow me to speak until given permission. She was snippy in her tone and words, like she’s the authority, and I need to shut the fuck up, sit there, and do as I’m told. I was in so much pain and having to deal with this caused me to tense more. I had a hard time breathing, because I felt like my lung was being squeezed, and sitting uncomfortably on hard seats in the waiting room for a half hour didn’t help. I felt pretty helpless, because I needed help, not to be spoken to like I was interrupting her day and she was doing me a favor.
When she asked to list my issues, I started telling her the main twisted side/back that’s been going on the entire year. She wrote something down, and before I could finish a sentence or any details, she interrupted me, “No, we will go back to that. What’s your next issue?” Snippy.
I told her I think my main issue is all related to why my stomach has been bothering me and why I can’t breathe. She interrupted again, tell her about the next problem. I’m like what the fuck? How is this going to make sense being all over the place? It confused me, because this isn’t how I process thoughts or how I communicate.
Then we went over each issue her way, which meant I was still unable to give her details, because she wouldn’t let me speak! I have never in my life had a doctor act so high and mighty while I’m desperately trying to communicate my pain. I felt she was rushing to get me out of there without speaking to me like a human being. She didn’t even have me stand up so I could show her that my belly button is off to the right by an inch and my rib is pushed up inside my right tit, and my right shoulder is two inches below my left. But she never even gave me the chance to tell her in the first place! Normally, on a good day, I would have put her right in her place and walked out. But with pain at an 8 out of 10, I didn’t have the strength for it. I felt like a helpless animal, desperate for any help I should be thankful for, even from a bitch of a doctor.
When she told me that I can stop taking B-12 shots (I’ve been taking them for about 12 years), I said it helps with my energy. She interrupted with, “It doesn’t give you energy,” – in a very disgusted, but condescending tone. She wouldn’t listen to a thing I had to say unless she asked me. But I continued, and I was getting pissed.
“It definitely gives me energy.” As I was about to tell her it helps me think more clearly and helps with depression, she interrupted, shook her head and mouthed “Jesus Christ!”
I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t even know what to say. Her demeanor was as if I was doing something wrong just by being there.
She didn’t even know I had a hysterectomy until I told her, because she didn’t understand why I was going to physical therapy. She also seemed to make a face about that, too, and I’m pretty sure she rolled her eyes a couple times, but I didn’t catch it directly to know for sure. She wouldn’t allow me to speak enough to explain how all of this is related. She might be a doctor, but she doesn’t know my body the way I do.
I wondered if she argues with all of her patients that want to discuss their medical issues or do they just sit and keep quiet? I was in so much pain and utterly shocked at what was happening, I didn’t know what to say. I almost walked out the second I heard her mouth “Jesus Christ,” but I felt helpless. I just wanted to get this pain issue resolved and not wait longer.
I’ve had a few awful doctors in my lifetime (some military), and this one is right up there with downright abuse. And all of this with her aware of my depression, anxiety, and PTSD! Have other veterans had to deal with similar issues with either her or other doctors at the VA? This is unacceptable!
Sometime in the middle of her examining me, she turned on a video meeting thing, mumbling she “had to do.” I don’t know if the camera was facing us with me in the room or what, but I had to walk by it at least once to exit. Talk about a HIPPA violation.
I get the VA requires a bunch of stupid shit like any government system, but what about the fucking patient???!!! I was early for my appointment, had to wait, got treated like shit, and now I’m being rushed out the door. Wow.
Then her personality switched, and she began talking like a normal, regular doctor, doing her job and ordering tests, and speaking to me like a normal person. She did the same thing over the phone! Like she blasts off screaming to let everyone know who’s in charge, then pretends that everything is normal. I don’t know what the fuck I’m dealing with, so I will be changing doctors.
When someone breaks my trust as she did, I shut down and no longer wish to communicate. I think to myself, This is useless! Her actions towards me brought back feelings of when I was in abusive situations in the past. The type of situation when someone is unpredictable either because of mental illness or alcoholism, or even narcissism, and you’re walking on eggshells, hoping they don’t explode. You cannot reason with people like that, because something is definitely off, and that is the energy I felt. I wanted to get the fuck out of that room as quickly as possible so I could go home and cry.
After the condescending knock-down from Dr. Moodswitch, my mood was worse. My pain level was at eight throughout the day (it’s usually 3-6), but if I moved certain ways, it was a 10. Between the pain and depression, I never wanted to go back to the VA again. But I still had to hold my shit together, because I had x-rays and another appointment afterwards. I got my x-rays but left without my prescriptions and whatever else she told me to do, because I just wanted to get the fuck out of that building.
I couldn’t wait to get home so I could cry. I started to break down at my other appointment, because I heard more shitty news. And I still had to hold it together the whole ride home through a rainstorm.
At first I dismissed this doctor’s abusive behavior with that first phone call, because I made the excuse she was having a bad day. This is where I need to remind myself there is no excuse for that at any time – especially from a medical professional! When you’re so used to being in abusive situations and relationships, it’s normal to fall back into a situation, because it seems normal. It’s also easier to make excuses for people, because it’s all you know. Instead of having zero tolerance right up front with everything, some things may slide. My initial reaction is to think, maybe I need to do this so she doesn’t act that way. After her being normal the first meeting, I didn’t think there would be an issue again. But even with all of my issues, when I’m having a bad day, I don’t act like a condescending asshole to people I’m supposed to help!
I’m still pretty physically and emotionally exhausted from yesterday’s load of crap and will deal with the report when I have the energy. I don’t even know where to report it yet.
I just remembered another thing that happened during this visit. During the standard questions, the doctor asked what was my job. With everything being so scattered right now, I wasn’t sure how to answer, so I said something like, “I just do random things right now.”
She repeated herself, but in a firmer, more authoritarian tone, like, just answer the question.
Again, I said, “I do random jobs.” (By now, I was already shut down and not giving a damn about her shitty attitude.)
This time she said it even meaner, louder, huffing all dramatic, “What do you do?!”
Eight out of ten on the pain scale, and you’re worried about my fucking random jobs? I don’t even remember my answer, so I made up something.