A Letter to the Doctor Who Let Me Down
Quite a while ago, I was sitting in my therapist’s office as she suggested to me that I write a letter to someone that had caused me pain. Whether I gave this letter to the person or just kept it to myself was ultimately up to me.
I remember feeling a sense of freedom as I typed. I felt angry, traumatized and confused, but free. Though I ended up giving this letter to the person who had hurt me, I will not be doing that today.
The reason that my therapist asked me to do this was because the longer I held on to that anger, the harder it would be for me to heal. The truth is, if you don’t first heal what is broken, you will destroy everything in your path. So today, though it is under completely different circumstances, I am writing this letter to my doctor, the doctor that let me down.
It has been almost two years since I went to you for help, begging and pleading with you to listen to what I was saying and to look deeper into my health. It has been two years of formulating fake conversations in my head that maybe would have changed my experience with you, things I could have and should have said. It has been two years that I have been holding onto this resentment, this anger and this disappointment.
You once told me, long before I had these particular health issues, that if I ever needed anything you would be there to help me. You understood that I had anxiety, and you supported me by writing formalized notes to my school, recommending me to a therapist to discuss what I was dealing with and reassuring me that if I ever felt like I needed further help that you would prescribe something necessary to help me. At one point, I would have recommended you to others dealing with similar issues.
As time went on I began to realize that my anxiety was only getting worse. In addition to the anxiety and sudden panic attacks, I was now dealing with a myriad of other unpleasant symptoms such as; significant weight gain, unfathomable fatigue, night sweats, cold sweats, severe digestive issues, a racing heart, hair loss, brain fog, muscle cramps, an increased sensitivity to cold, thinning eyebrows, mood swings, depression and of course, anxiety. I would wake up in the morning, covered in sweat with tears streaming down my face. I was 19 years old, unable to keep my eyes open during lectures, running red lights because I was unable to concentrate, gaining 15 pounds in 3 weeks, and some days feeling like I would be better off dead. I couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t want to have to live like this anymore. That is why I came to you. I was desperate, and you told me that you would be there to help me when needed.
You were not.
You mocked me, laughed at me and called me a “know it all”. You told me that it was all in my head, the anxiety, the fatigue, everything. You made me feel crazy. You told me that since my TSH levels were balanced, that my symptoms were completely unrelated to my thyroid health and that it was probably “just” depression. You knew that because I suffered from anxiety you could use that against me and blame my mental health for everything. It was disgusting and unprofessional of you, and this was only the beginning of the unthinkable things you said to me. When I asked you to refer me to an endocrinologist, you denied my request. When I asked you to refer me to a gynecologist to check my hormones, you denied me that as well, telling me that “not everyone can have children, so stop worrying about it”, as if my fertility was my only concern and not the fact that I had hair growing out of my chin, acne on my chest, terrible breast pain, and an inability to control my emotions. You called me a "know it all" when I asked for a full thyroid panel, and told me that I was the problem, not my thyroid. You failed me, and it makes me so sad to think that you will continue to fail your patients throughout the remainder of your career. I was suffering and all you did was sit there and mock me while I wiped my tears.
I was helpless. You were older than me, more educated and you made sure that I knew this. You had all the power, and so I left your office with a prescription for an anti-depressant and what was left of my dignity. I sat in my car and balled my eyes out for twenty minutes. I had been hiding what I was going through for so long, telling myself that it was only a matter of time till my next doctor’s appointment and then I would be better. When I left your office with no answers I began to feel powerless, like this was inevitably going to be my future. Everything I had planned for my life would go to waste because there was no way I could ever work a 9-5 job, or have children. There was no way I would ever genuinely feel happy when I was out with friends or home with my family. This was it. These were the cards I was dealt, this was the life that I would live, and there was nothing else for me to do.
You were wrong.
You lied to me and told me that Synthroid was the only drug for Hypothyroidism, even though I now know that you switched my medication without telling me because you received a kick-back from the company each time you wrote a script for them. You told me that TSH was the only important test, only for me to eventually discover that I had virtually no free T3 in my body and this was the reason I was suffering with most of my symptoms. You told me that it didn't matter that I had 2000 antibodies because it was not possible to reduce them anyways. I am now at just under 90 and heading into remission, which you also said was not possible. You told me that hormonal health was of no concern, only for me to find out that I was extremely estrogen dominant which increases my risk for developing breast, uterine and ovarian cancers. You were wrong. I hope, for your sake, that you do not treat the people in your life as you had treated me because that would indeed be a very lonely and pathetic life. I hope that if someone close to you were to be suffering, that you would put your fragile masculinity aside and would pick up a book and educate yourself on how best to help them thrive. Although I will never step foot into your office again, and you will never actually read this letter, I do hope that something happens in your career that unlocks the passion and drive to heal that you must have lost over the years since you have been practicing medicine.
I am writing this letter to you because I am still angry. I am writing because although I became my own advocate and fought for my right for adequate health care, most people do not. Most do not have the money, the education or the time. Most would leave that office and give up on their dreams, their hopes and their plans for the future. I see it everyday on my social media, this is not an isolated situation. You are not the only doctor out there who is careless and appalling at their job and that is what is so incredibly tragic about our healthcare system. The mere fact that a patient with an autoimmune disease has to see, on average, five different doctors before actually getting any answers is proof that this is a major problem today and something has to be done, now. 60% of thyroid patients in the U.S are undiagnosed, and this does not include the patients who have a diagnosis but are still not treated properly by their physicians.
I try to look at the positive in every situation and so here it is.
Thank you for pushing me to hit rock bottom. If i didn’t get there, I would not have realized the growing epidemic of autoimmune diseases. I would not have met my amazing naturopathic doctor, my current MD who reassured me that you clearly had no idea what you were doing and that your ego got in the way of your practice, and I wouldn’t have met all the amazing chronic illness fighters that I know today. Because I hit rock bottom, I found my passion for food and nutrition, I discovered my love for holistic and natural healing, and I became the strong person that I needed two years ago when I was sitting in your office begging you for help.
So Dr Jones, here is to you,
As the concept of The Butterfly Effect suggests, Everything that has happened in my life has led me to this moment.
Diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease and Hypothyroidism, Victoria Gasparini explores the reality of living with chronic illness through her blog, The Butterfly Effect. Victoria seeks to spread awareness of autoimmunity and writes to inspire chronically ill patients to live wholesome lives beyond their health struggles.