Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Your medical records reflect your medical care

I am a person who interviews and makes records of what people say and also how people appear to me. But I have never seen anything like what has happened to me in this rural community surrounding Lake Isabella.

It has to do with my medical records. Now I already knew my doctors and the whole clinic in fact, recognized my emotional volatility, or my bi-polar. But it was being exacerbated by an autoimmune disorder, called Grave's disease, which attacks the endocrine system most especially the thyroid.

The thyroid is your friend, trust me, you don't want this butterfly gland in the middle of your neck, to be altered in any way. And most especially if you are bi-polar.

But that is not the point of my story, the point is directed at the clinic which treats me for this and a roster of other problems I won't go into.

I did not check what was being observed and "written" about me. In fact, I trusted that they would be accurate and articulate. And fair and non judgemental.

No, that is not at all what happened. The people I have trusted to treat me have labeled me: bi-polar.

I found out about it at the worst of times. I had suffered a serious head injury, had a stroke about 10 days out, and was going down hill fast in weight and overall health.

So, I thought I must get to the best place for medicine, and I was told to go to UCLA.

After my own attempt to drive myself there in desperation, I became lost on the road, and found myself with a migraine in the middle of LA traffic, ended up in emergency where the strange looks began.

I wrote up my own list of symptoms and all the things I could think of which may be happening to me.

One office after another, month after month, my sister took me to different doctors at UCLA. Again, they would scrutinize me and always come up with a blank.

Then the great, number two in the country, UCLA endocrinology department put me on a the incorrect thyroid medicine. (that's for another time)

Well, they didn't have to be too great did they, because they were reading materials I had no idea was even written about me.

Finally, in the third month of this quest for answers, I saw a neurologist. I sat in front of him and explained the injury, the pain, the eye problems, the physical symptoms of the issues.

He stared at me strangely. By this time I was actually healing on my own, and I had become more aware. His gaze was so unusual I couldn't help wondering what was going on.

When he took off to print me a list of medications to choose from, I stood up and walked to the records open on his desk.

I looked down, a tear streamed down my face, I saw the words, bi-polar.

Suddenly I knew why everyone was looking at me the way they were. It was my medical records speaking, seeped in prejudice and dismissing as a credible patient.

The doctor returned to find me looking stunned with tears running down my face. All I could say was, "is this what you think?"

He immediately said, he could be his own judge and he didn't find those records to be anything but prejudicial. He instructed me to bring my own records and only the tests not the remarks.

My sister met me and I told her what had happened. We both were in shock. After all the traveling, the traffic, the money, I had been treated like a nonhuman.

We both decided not to go to UCLA again as the well was poisoned.

When I got back home, I called the clinic and asked to make an appointment with my medical records. This was before the shift the office had to the computer version.

I took my hefty records to an examining room and began to look at every page since the day I came there the first time.

My mind reeled from the remarks. "Used the word fuck a lot." That was all my visit reflected. That was the total observation.

I heard outside in the office the murmurs of staff wondering what I was doing. And the person who wrote that statement, who I no longer see, and would not like to see again in my life, said to a staff member in a hostile voice, "what is she doing here."

Well lady, I'll tell you that was my question too after I read what you wrote.

But we all have to learn. I learned a very difficult lesson and now we are all going to be learning.

Someone recently, when I had a difficult time in another hospital, told me after she overheard me arguing with the seemingly whole nursing staff, "keep fighting for yourself, you're doing a good job."

And I want all of you to know that you have to fight. Fight this prejudice. Don't let medical records ruin your care. More on this subject, much more...

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