Are you dreading your next doctor visit? Do you have a gut feeling that something isn't quite right? Nine years ago, I had a bizarre experience with my neurologist. I had been referred to her because she coordinated a Fibromyalgia program in which my family doctor wanted me to join.
At first, it seemed like a good idea. After starting the program, I attended it five days per week for a total of six weeks. I was with a group of eight other women diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. The medical protocol consisted of physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychology, and being prescribed medicine.
My neurologist prescribed me 60 mg of Cymbalta, also known as Duloxetine. What she neglected to inform me was that Cymbalta had a Black Box Warning. And many patients had experienced horrific side effects, including personality changes, aggression, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, muscle pain, worse depression, brain zaps, and suicidal thoughts.
Following this fibro program, I continued to visit my neurologist occasionally for medical check ups and to get Cymbalta prescriptions. Within four short months, I noticed drastic changes to my personality. I was no longer my bubbly, happy self. Instead, I turned into a monster. I was filled with hostility, aggression, anxiety, exhaustion, and depression so disabling that I could barely get out of bed. And I still suffered chronic pain.
Concerned for my well-being, I decided it would be best if I tapered Cymbalta. Based on the fact that it was the only medication I had been taking, it made logical sense to me that the root of the problem was this drug. Therefore, on my next appointment when I met with my neurologist, I shared my concern about my frightening symptoms. I made it clear that I wanted to slowly taper Cymbalta with her help.
Upon my request, my neurologist rudely stated, "You are too difficult to manage. I'm dismissing you as my patient."
And just like that, she not only fired me as her patient, she refused to help me taper Cymbalta. Simply stated, she placed me in harms way. No doubt, I was left to wing it alone.
From that moment onward, my life became a living hell. My emotional, physical, and cognitive function spiraled out of control. My Fibromaylgia pain sky rocketed to excruciating heights. I went through horrific negative side effects, wicked withdrawal symptoms, intense anxiety and depression, I became suicidal, and I nearly lost my life.
Truly, it is only by the grace of God that I'm alive today. What didn't kill me has made me stronger. Ultimately, it has significantly changed me, my perspective on the medical industry, and how I view conventional medicine. (For the long version of my true story, you can read it in my memoir, Harvest of Hope: Living Victoriously Through Adversity.)
Based on my own hellish ordeal, I've compiled my list of red flags to be aware of with your doctors. Feel free to comment with your own list of red flags or to share your own story.
15 Signs You Need to Dump Your Doctor:
- You simply don't like the person. Your personalities may clash. Or they have a poor bedside manner. If there are trust issues, it's an automatic red flag that they're not a good fit for you.
- They don't listen to you. They may habitually interrupt you. Clear communication is a vital key to a good relationship with your doctor. If you feel as if you're not being heard or taken seriously, it may be time to ditch your doctor.
- Your doctor minimizes, ignores, or criticizes you for your health concerns, symptoms, or your legitimate complaints. If your physician doesn't take time to hear you, understand your view point, or respect you, it may be time to find a new doctor.
- You feel rushed at your appointments. It's like the office has become a fast food drive through. You're in and out without quality time to discuss your medical concerns or ask questions. If your doctor doesn't spend sufficient time with you or he/she makes excuses that it's not possible to spend more time with you, there's good cause to fire your physician.
- Your doctor belittles you, is rude to you, talks down to you, or has an arrogant, outspoken attitude. Create healthy boundaries immediately or find a new doctor.
- Your physician doesn't permit you to question him or her. When you inquire about your medical treatment, records, symptoms, or medicine, for whatever reason your doctor will not give you answers or behaves negatively. If this becomes the norm, it's a red flag to dump your doctor.
- If you ask your physician to assist you to gradually taper your medicine, but they outright refuse, stall, or make up excuses, it may be time to seek another doctor.
- If your doctor suggests that you abruptly stop your medication, especially if you've been taking it for several months or much longer, this is a red flag. Warning: Never cold turkey.
- Your doctor discourages you from learning more or researching about your health condition, treatment options, or medications. Based on the fact there are respectful and credible resources online, this should not be an issue.
- If your physician neglects to inform you about a BLACK BOX WARNING, negative side effects, long-term damage, potential suicidal ideation, or that a particular drug could lead to a physical dependency, it is a major sign to seek a new doctor.
- If your doctor prescribes you a combination of medicine in which you discover on your own that it's a potent cocktail of chemicals and severely interacting, it's in your best interest to dump your doctor.
- This one is a no brainer, but needs to be stated. If you're not getting better or your symptoms are far worse, it may be time to find a new physician.
- During each appointment, if you start to feel as if you're in a candy store because your doctor continually hands you a new prescription, it may be time to consider a second opinion.
- If you're in the midst of a taper with Cymbalta, Benzodiazepine, or another powerful drug in which you find yourself experiencing wicked withdrawals, but your physician insists that it's all in your head or you are crazy, it's a sign that you need to dump your doctor.
- Lastly, we must end with sexual misconduct. If your regular doctor (or cardiologist, rheumatologist, endocrinologist, etc.) gropes you, manhandles you, wants to do a gynecological examination, or touch you in a sexually inappropriate way, yet they are NOT board certified in gynecology, do not walk, but RUN out of that office and report the pervert. The USA gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar, comes to mind with over 165 victims. Creeper!