Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Don't roll your eyes at ME!

I had an appointment early today for a mammogram. I know they are important; we have breast cancer in the family, and friends have died from it. So, I was ready, had worked out what to say about needing to be treated carefully because of fibro, ME and my spinal injury.
Himself drove me practically to the steps of the mobile unit, then parked the car, and waited in it, as only patients are allowed inside the unit.
Walking stick in left hand, I used the rail on the right to help haul myself up the metal steps to the unit. OK, I was expecting this; however I wasn't expecting the handrail to be so loose it wobbled, pinching my hand between it and the side of the unit with every step.  I mentioned this to the two members of staff when I went in. No reaction. Never mind, no big deal.
After registering, I was told to do the usual - go into a cubicle, take top and bra off, put top back on. I declined, explaining that was too much unnecessary effort for me, doubling the taking off and putting on; I had dressed in T shirt, as I'm quicker with that than a blouse. They exchanged looks.
I was the only patient in the unit. The younger woman took me to the end room. I said that I needed to explain to her about my health, and that I had some specific needs. I said I have a spinal injury, and so cannot bend and lean in ways that most people can, so she'd need to work round that. Oh.
I then explained that I have Fibromyalgia and ME, so have problems with pain. I said that it was important that when I said 'enough' that she was to stop winding the plate down immediately. In the past I have suffered from an overenthusiastic radiographer carrying on tightening, to such an extent that I was left in pain for several days.
I got the eyeroll. No assurances, not even any platitudes. She just launched into telling me why, from their point of view it was so important to...
I have to admit, I lost it. Totally and completely.
I was so upset, and very, very angry. I had carefully worked out exactly what to say to explain what I needed, and why, and she didn't even acknowledge my conditions or my concerns. I then made it abundantly clear I did not trust her to treat me with the necessary care, and that with her attitude she wasn't fit to do the job.
I stomped out, shaking, my heart banging; the adrenaline and anger overriding the need to move sensibly.  
Did I react badly? Yes.
Did I overreact? I don't think so.
People who are so dismissive of vulnerable patients, even when we articulate our needs, are the reason so many of us end up physically worse, and so distrustful of clinics and hospitals. I am able to speak up for myself, and have the brass neck and short enough fuse to be fired into doing so.

Himself drove me home, hugged me, supplied me with copious amounts of tea, made sure I rested all day, and cooked supper. I still feel a bit wobbly. I will probably have a reaction to this in the next day or so. But hey ho.

Nobody gets to roll their eyes at ME.

I did phone the department, and made my views known, suggesting some department training in respect and consideration. I was listened to with interest, was given an apology, told that my complaint would be brought up at a meeting tomorrow, promised an alternative appointment, and that the handrail would be fixed. We can hope.


  1. How very upsetting for you and completely avoidable if people would only listen. I am surprised you got an apology though, it seems to be a lost art in most cases. Hope you are feeling a bit better now.

  2. I don't think you reacted badly at all, it was the lack of respect and support that was bad. We are always told to articulate our thoughts, yet when we do, so often we get ignored. I hope they have listened and I hope the follow up appointment is done with respect & care for your needs.