There's a reason I often trust the internet more than my own doctors

I don’t know if we’ve all been there, but far too many people have been dismissed by their doctor with comments like “You’re just stressed,” or “You need to lose weight,” or the worst of all, “It’s all in your head.” There’s even a term for it: medical gaslighting. Medical gaslighting can happen to anyone, but women are especially vulnerable to doctors disparaging our aches and pains as nothing more than hypochondria.

This increasing tendency of doctors to ignore their patients has led to the creation of organizations like the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine. Numerous articles address the problem, such as this one from WebMD: How to Talk to Your Doctors When They Don’t Listen. Even the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) is giving advice to doctors, stressing the surprising (or perhaps not so surprising) finding that

The overwhelming number of people who suffer an injury due to negligence from a physician never file a malpractice suit at all. Patients don’t file lawsuits because they’ve been harmed by shoddy medical care. Patients file lawsuits because they’ve been harmed by shoddy medical care and … they were rushed or ignored or treated poorly.

I have an autoimmune disease, polymyalgia rheumatica. I take prednisone for it. Between the autoimmune disease and the treatment, I am especially vulnerable to fungal infections and to serious and potentially fatal complications of fungal infections.

I recently developed a case of oral thrush. The doctor prescribed fluconazole, the first choice of medication for yeast infections all through the body. Unfortunately, he wasn’t paying enough attention to what he was doing to prescribe the appropriate amount and duration of fluconazole.

I wondered why I had a relapse so soon after the medicine was gone, so I looked it up and discovered for myself what the proper dosage and duration of fluconazole was for oral thrush. I went back to the doctor, presented him with the information, and got the right prescription. It certainly is a conundrum that with all the cutting-edge medical technology, the most important piece of equipment, the doctor’s ears, don’t seem to work anymore.

Image: Doctor at work by Drazen Zigic.

Pandra Selivanov is the author of The Pardon, a story of forgiveness based on the thief on the cross in the Bible.

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