After you’ve spent a few months/years wandering through the medical system with a complaint no one can help you with — hair loss, psoriasis, fatigue, dizzy spells, insomnia, whatever — you start to hear the same refrains from supposedly well-meaning doctors and civilians.
“Are you sure it’s not just depression/stress?”
Translation: “America’s healthcare system is the best in the world, so I think I’m safe in saying that anyone who thinks a doctor can’t solve his particular problem has some sort of mental dysfunction. Besides, I heard it on a commercial for some prescription drug.”
“You should try my doctor. He’s really good.”
Translation: “You can tell my doctor is good because he’s speaks really confidently. He uses medicalese I don’t understand, proving that he’s completely up to date on all the developments of any health situation ever. I’ve never had a problem he couldn’t fix — like that sinus infection last year, OMG! I am special and privileged and expect my random PPO-plan GP to be better than your random GP or specialist.”
“In cases like that, the cause is usually genetic.” (Doctors)
Translation: “When you get something your mother/grandmother/great-uncle had, why should we be expected to know how to fix it? Oh, they didn’t have it? Well, they probably did and you just don’t know it, because health problems we can’t fix are usually genetic. We only bother with first-generation health issues. Once it crosses to a second generation, it’s no longer our purview. It’s like, I dunno, a judgement from God or something. I never really thought about the huge logic fail with this argument before. No one ever questions my judgement, and I wasn’t warned in medical school that any patient ever would, so I am not in the habit of using my reasoning skills.”
“You have to stay positive.”
Translation: “I don’t want to hear about your health problems. I only asked to be polite and so that you’d reassure me that I don’t have to worry about you or about the possibility that it could happen to me. In America we’re supposed to be friendly and upbeat all the time, especially women, and if you don’t play along you’re violating the social contract.” (See also this Beyond Meds post.)
“You have such a good attitude about this!”
Translation: “I’m trying to force you to say something gracious and thankful and get the subject on another topic because I can’t contribute to this conversation since it’s out of the realm of my experience. At least you’re not talking about how frustrating this problem must be. I’m willing to not blame you for your own health problem but this is a gentle reminder about how I want conversations to go in the future.”
Image: Remix by MRhea.