Several years into my life while on disability, I was referred for physical therapy. I showed up to my appointment and was happy I remembered to bring my med list. It’s always helpful to not have to remember and write them all down. That happiness was short-lived. The PT went to make a copy and return my original, and then sat down briefly before the following happened.
“Do you have a primary doctor?” (YES) “Do you have an appointment with him soon? Or any of your doctors?” (Sure, I have appointments with most of them on a regular basis.) “Well, they have you on TWENTY EIGHT MEDS!” 😑
I didn’t have enough time to get angry. I was kind of in shock. I tried to explain vasculitis to him and why I see so many specialists and take so many medications. It got worse instead of better.
He said I should speak with the doctors (as if I hadn’t) because “they should take me off of some medications and change my diet and exercise.” Wow. Just… WOW.
I remained shocked by the audacity of this physical therapist to make the kind of accusation he was implying, while also being amused and considering whether to ask him if he was going to recommend that I pray next.
A medical professional. How embarrassing and sad! It was a little bit comical when he asked about the doctors and I mentioned that I have exceptional doctors who head their departments or even their hospitals. I mentioned my pulmonologist, and his attitude changed quickly. He started apologizing and saying he didn’t mean to be rude, and of course that he knows Dr. Pulmonology. (Everybody knows him. That’s his hospital!) So I think he realized he might be stepping on some very big toes that will not hesitate to call him out!
I sat there, thinking: I already know what I’m on, my doctors already know what I’m on, my pharmacist knows what I’m on, and my insurance knows what I’m on, so the only new information here is confirmation that the PT can count. But I remained rather speechless.
It wasn’t until I got into my car that I began to get angry. Somehow I either put it aside or simply dissociated from it, until I spoke with another member of my support group for my condition. She was so angry about it that I finally realized I was not wrong to be upset.
Exercising takes on a whole new meaning when you have trouble breathing. When you have asthma, vasculitis and lung disease, and pulmonary hypertension on occasion. I am also not on any medications for no reason. I regularly ask my doctors if there are any medications I can stop. They repeatedly tell me “not if [I] want to stay alive.”
I expect this from people who don’t know anything about medicine. I do NOT (or SHOULD NOT) expect this from a medical professional who has to have worked with cancer patients and other patients who need physical therapy as part of their treatment plan with their doctors. I was not prepared for it, and I’m still not sure how I’m going to handle it.
If I went to his superiors, I don’t think I would want to go back and be seen by him. I could also contact my pulmonologist, and let him have a go at him. Again, I wouldn’t want to go back there. Another option I considered was coming in next week with my entire medication list along with what each medication is for, and asking him which medicines he suggests I stop taking, so I can let my doctors know why he thinks he knows more than they do.
I could also try just talking to him, but I think I’ve already come to the conclusion that I don’t want to be treated by somebody who thinks I’m just fat and lazy, and knows nothing about my condition. He just decided I was on too many, based on his PT medical or pharmaceutical knowledge, and felt it his place to scold my doctors through me.
He also didn’t seem interested in even ASKING why I was on so many meds. Or for that matter, why I was there. I was there for HEADACHES and STRESS/TENSION in my neck that my doctor said was “out of control” when he felt my neck. But Dr. PT just determined I had a full range of motion that day and probably wouldn’t be approved for therapy.
One more time the lesson is learned that you should ask questions rather than make assumptions. This is especially true when you are dealing with somebody who quite clearly has an unusual medical profile! I would have easy explained if he had asked.
Now I have to come to a decision before my next appointment. I need to find a calm way to explain to the physical therapist that he needs to stay in his lane and not worry about what my doctors are doing, whether or not I stay to be treated by him. Ideas are welcome!