To The Doctors

To The Doctors

Chronic Illness isn't fun

Dear Doctors,

Most of you don’t know me and hopefully most of you will never even need to see my chart. But chances are some of you may come across me at some point or another. Whether it be in an office or a hospital setting you’ll see my chart and wonder ‘how is this possible’. I’m sure by now there’s a note on my file saying that I’m a difficult patient and I truly do understand your frustration. But please try to understand mine as well. Somewhere along the way you’ve lost your compassion and your understanding of people. You understand the mechanics of course but not the effect of these issues.

I’ve spent most of my life being told I’m a hypochondriac and to stop researching my issues. And over the past few years I’ve heard it more and more and not just from Doctors but from my family as well. The truth is that if you were willing to listen to me and not just discount me as being hysterical we could work together better. Something a lot of people have forgotten is that the relationship between doctor and patient is supposed to be that of a team. Together we can get to the root of my issues and hopefully along the way you’ll learn something new. Because the truth is not everyone’s body reacts the exact same way (It’s called an average for a reason after all). Some people might react one way while others might react on the opposite end of the spectrum. TYPICAL DOES NOT MEAN EVERYONE. Sorry that needed to get out.

Personally I’ve known since I was about 12 that my body runs colder than the average person. My normal body temperature is 96.8 Fahrenheit, the average is 98.6. So while someone being at 100 degrees might be not too concerning for you I know that when I’m at a 100 degrees that there’s something wrong. I’ve been told countless times that my temperature is perfectly normal when I’m sitting in the office with it being 98.6 and I can’t stop shivering or I have a cough. But because the average is 98.6 and I’m telling you I have a fever I’m hysterical or a hypochondriac.

Like I said I understand your frustration because I have no clue what’s going on either, somewhere along the way my body just gave up the pretense of being normal and now I’m dealing with the fallout. All I’m asking for is for compassion and understanding, just like any other patient. I’m 25 and at this rate I have no idea what my health will even be like when I turn 30.

I try to be a good person but after frustrating appointments I can’t help but think that if you were in my shoes being treated like this how would that make you feel? Would you sit calmly while stewing on the inside because here we go again with being told there’s nothing wrong? Just because your body is reacting in a way that is not the typical way the body reacts to something. Or would you get angry and talk back or cry? I don’t know but in my less kind moments I wish this on you. I wish the confusion and the frustration and the being treated terribly on you because then maybe just maybe you would understand where your patients are coming from.

So all I ask is that next time a patient walks into the room with something that isn’t readily apparent admit it and maybe together we can learn exactly what is going on. Just treat your patients the way you would want to be treated if you were the one that was sick. Trust me it’ll mean the world to your patient to be treated compassionately. Listen to your patient and don’t just brush off their concerns as being those of someone who is hysterical. Or better treat them like it was your family or how you would hope your family was treated if this was the situation they found themselves in.

Thank You,
A Patient

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An Inside Look At Alzheimer's

This is just a little introduction to the journey my family and I have been on with my grandma while she struggled with Alzheimer's.


My grandmother, my mom's mom, was the most beautiful soul in this world, even throughout her battle with Alzheimer's. My grandma's name is Joan Kohanski (but us grandkids called her Baba) and she was born on February 22, 1938. She was diagnosed with polio in her legs at the young age of 14. She has walked with canes ever since then but lived such an adventurous life. She married my papa (Ron) on August 8, 1959. The first daughter of theirs' was my Aunt Karen on May 25, 1961. My mom (Gail) came along on February 10, 1964. Finally, my Aunt Julie (we call her T.T.) was born on June 13, 1966.

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I'm not sure if anyone has ever heard of this before, but supposedly, cardinals are your loved ones making themselves known that they are still there with you.

The amount of times that I have seen cardinals since her passing is uncanny and nobody can tell me that it's just a coincidence. The funniest part about it is that she lived on Cardinal Drive when my mom was growing up, and that's still where my papa lives today. Another really special thing to me is that I am part of the sorority that she was in, Delta Gamma. It makes me feel as if I have my own special connection with her that no one can take away, since all of my cousins and siblings that are older than me remember her before she was diagnosed, and I have a vague memory of it.

Baba was diagnosed with Alzheimer's around 2006 and lived with it until May 12, 2016. Her struggle with this horrible disease was not easy, certainly on her, but any of us, especially Papa. Papa took care of her at home until he was unable to anymore, which then he made the decision to put her in a care facility. She started out in a typical room by herself. As her condition got worse, she moved into the Alzheimer's unit with other people who had the same illness. If anyone has never had the first-hand experience with a loved one suffering from this disease, it is truly the most heartbreaking thing in the world. I would never wish that on my worst enemy. You start to see the person you love and look up to the most slowly become less and less of themselves, and it's not their fault. You learn to forgive them for the times that they forget your name and who you are. You know that it's really not them and they can't help it.

The whole journey of her suffering has been such a hardship to everyone in my family. It's probably the worst thing that any of us will ever go through. I am so happy with where she is right now because I know that she is in a better place, and rid of any and all illness. It's hard to come to terms that she isn't here with us any longer, and it's almost selfish of me to question "Why us?". I would do anything to have her back today but I know that there is always a reason why and I have to trust it. If you or someone you know has a family member or loved one that has Alzheimer's, just know that you are certainly not alone and other people totally understand.

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