The Wrong Doctor, The Right Process

 In Anxiety and Stress, Health, Honesty, Compassion, and Respect, Nurturing Honesty, Respect, Compassion
At a family dinner with some close friends, I was introduced to a father and son who both, like me, suffered from GI conditions. Although not IBS specifically, those with gut disorders can all somewhat relate–and of course from my experience– that we are constantly on the hunt for the right doctor.

Amid a flare at the dinner table, I shared my story with them attempting to hide my pain. “I just don’t understand why these doctors can’t figure me out,” I expressed, prudently nibbling on a piece of shrimp–a common practice for IBS sufferers who are trying to look respectful in meal-time social settings. My intestines had been in flames all day. But then the pain suddenly subsided when the father said, “Sabrina, I know a doctor who could potentially help you. He operated on both me and my son. I trust him, I promise he is incredible. Let me give you his contact.” I pulled my phone from under my thigh and handed it to him, “Thank you, please do,” with a gracious smile. 

With each resource I obtain, I cannot be more appreciative. I cannot be more appreciative of the spontaneous connections I make through family and friends to mutual ones. I was able to schedule an appointment within a month, a huge win compared to the four and six months I had waited for others previously. Indeed, referrals from a doctor’s close friend go a long way, but they aren’t always the right ones.


Despite all the positive feedback I had heard about this doctor, I walked into his clinic that Friday morning skeptical that he would be understanding of my condition. The pattern of protocol, slim questioning, and dismissal was one I had endured for far too long; by this point, I was used to it. Appointment after appointment, the flickering spark of hope that once resided within me was dying out. But I had one last spark left: Maybe– just maybe– this will be the right doctor. And right here, before I begin to share this story with you, I’m going to tell you that he was not. 

We started with the nurse’s usual height, weight, and blood pressure checks. Within a short seven minutes, a tan, tall and lean doctor entered the room. He introduced himself with a firm handshake, his face radiating warmth. 

He stationed himself on the stool underneath his iconic whiteboard (whose iconicness will soon be explained): “I’ve read through all your records, Sabrina. Tell me what’s going on, it seems like this has been going on for a long time, and I want to hear your story,” he invited compassionately, leaning his upper body toward me. A sense of validation rushed through me–never had a doctor affirmed that they had actually READ my records and told me what they had gathered from them; never had a doctor WANTED to hear my story. I felt safe to share without being dismissed, attacked, and let back off the hook. I no longer wanted to return to swimming in my hole of hopelessness, back to lurking in my dark depths for a temporary remedy.

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