I just want you to take a moment today to be grateful for your wonderful health. I could tell today that you have never spent a significant amount of time ill, or struggled with an illness that is difficult to diagnose. Do you know how I could tell?
Because you kept calling me sweetheart.
I am 40 years old. I don’t believe you are much older than 45, if even that. Granted, I look younger than I am. But I am not a young girl.
But something about our relationship made you think of me that way, and it is exactly the thing that I find most frustrating about most of the doctors I have seen in the last four years. You see me as a child because I am ill, and because I am paying you lots of money to help me find my way through this maze. Somehow, that makes you feel older than me, and makes you talk down to me. You forget that I am a whole universe, just as you are—-a complete person with passions, skills, intricacies, a sense of humor, opinons.
And, yes, fears.
One of which is doctors who make me feel ashamed or less than a whole person for being ill. Doctors who seem to think that a failure in my physical self indicates an immaturity or shortcoming in my actual self which, believe me, is not in any way the same thing as my body.
Nver, ever mistake a person's body for her real self.
But you’ll learn all this someday. That’s one thing I know for sure—everyone, even those who are so proud of their vibrant health as you are, will someday sit with their feet dangling off an examining table and feel like a slab of meat. And maybe you’ll remember us, your patients, when that day comes for you. Trust me, sweetheart, you’ll know this feeling someday.