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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What You Didn't Know About Concussions

Some surprising facts.

Your helmet smacks the helmet of the player you’ve been talking smack to the whole game. Your body bounces off of his and falls to the ground. You black out temporarily and when you come to, the team doctor is standing over you. Your head is pounding and you’re extremely dizzy. You have a concussion, but what does that mean?

Concussions are something that, according to NPR, affects one in four Americans in their lifetime. That is not something that we can ignore. Through research, I have learned a lot about concussions. I am going to talk to you guys about what concussions are, what the recovery from a concussion looks like and how we can avoid them. "Concussion" is a word that a lot of us have heard thrown out in regard to football or maybe even car accidents, but how many of us actually know what it means?

According to the Mayo Clinic, “A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that affects your brain function. Effects are usually temporary but can include headaches and problems with concentration, memory, balance, and coordination.” In English, it simply means that your brain has a bruise.

Your brain, to put it simply, is made of Jell-O and is floating in a liquid known as the Cerebral Fluid. When the head is shaken or suddenly hit, the brain moves in the cerebral fluid and will actually hit the inner walls of the skull. Because the amount of force that caused the brain to move in the first place can be varied, so can the severity of the concussion.

It is these injuries to the brain that cause the symptoms of the concussion and it is actually the symptoms that are called a “Concussion,” not the injury its self. A side effect of brain injuries is brain bleeding, so it is recommended that even if you don’t think your concussion is a serious one, you still see a healthcare professional.

Worst case scenario, they send you home, best case you just saved your life by seeking medical attention. To diagnose a concussion, doctors will look at a number of neurological functions including vision, reflexes, coordination, and balance. Other factors that could betray a concussion are increased irritability and confusion.

The typical concussion patient is typically recovering for as little as a week or it could take as long as a couple months. Because the injury varies so much from person to person, there is no set recovery guideline. Some people can do some things while for other people that may the main straining factor.

According to the same Mayo Clinic article from before, the first thing that the doctor is going to recommend is that the patient lay in a dark room with no light, no screens, and no books. Doing this gives the brain a break. Reading and looking at screens and other things cause strain on our brains which is something the patient would want to avoid when he or she has the diagnosis of a concussion. I

n some cases, doctors may even recommend that the patient take time off from work or school in order to shorten the amount of time that the brain is being used to think and minimize strain. Doctors may even recommend that patients discontinue any strenuous physical activity as not to cause undue strain on the brain. In extreme cases where the concussion is taking too long to heal, doctors may prescribe the patient medicine. Typically, they will prescribe medications to treat symptoms such as headaches, depression and memory loss.

Concussions are an injury that can be avoided in most cases if the right precautions are taken. The two main causes of concussions are car accidents and playing sports. In a car accident, concussions usually stem from another injury such as whiplash according to One way to reduce the impact of an injury such as whiplash, and
therefore reduce the likelihood of concussion, is to make sure that your headrest is adjusted properly. Wearing a seat belt can also prevent concussions. When not wearing a seatbelt, the head usually hits the windshield which would surely cause a severe concussion.

Playing contact sports severely increases your risk for a concussion, but there are lots of preventative measures that can be taken to dramatically decrease that risk. To no one’s surprise wearing a helmet significantly lowers the chances of getting a concussion. Sports that require athletes to wear a helmet, such as football and lacrosse, increase the players' chances of avoiding concussions severely.

Surprisingly, wearing a mouth guard can also minimize the impact to the head. According to, mouth guards put the jaw in a position that distributes force and, if the mouth guard is the right thickness and fit for the wearer it can actually absorb some of the shockthat might come from a hit to the head.

Concussions are serious injuries and should be treated as such despite the fact that there may not be any outward signs. I told you what concussions were, how to recover from them and how to prevent them in the future. It is now one week after you got a concussion in the big game, but thankfully you knew to recognize the symptoms and get help so you will make a complete recovery from your concussion.

Cover Image Credit: Performance Health Academy

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10 Struggles That Give You A Peek Into The Mind Of A Dyscalculic

"Can you remind me what 9x7 is?"

When most people think of learning disabilities, they automatically assume that an individual has trouble with reading or writing. However, for many, this is not the case. Many people have mathematics-related learning issues, more commonly referred to as dyscalculia.

Dyscalculia is defined as a "difficulty in learning or comprehending arithmetic, such as difficulty in understanding numbers, learning how to manipulate numbers, and learning facts in mathematics." I have struggled with this learning issue since about the time I was in second grade, so I can account for this first-hand. Often times, people who suffer from dyscalculia may not understand simple topics.

Even the smallest amount of math is an automatic overload to the brain. Simple math problems may seem extremely difficult to them. If you're wondering how math looks like to these people, take a look at my hand-made simulation to see what it is like to be dyscalculic.

1. "Can you remind me what 9x7 is?"

2. "160/5... Ok, so, I have to start with long division... I don't know how many times 5 goes into 160..."

3. "I can't do 120 x 5 in my head... can I use a calculator?"

4. "562-428... I have to carry the 1 to the 10ths place, but I still don't understand the process of regrouping. Wait, where did you get the 9 from?"

5. "24x^2+25x-47ax-2... Where did 122^15 come from? This is all completely random, IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE"

6 "5^9=? 4^8=? 6^7=? 7^2=14..." Teacher: "7^2=49!" "I don't understand..."

7. 896^2x725+634543FX0944734G67903S4039683907K0/7904750-9437590^143S475 "This is a huge overload... I can't do it."

8. "18/1/6=3/4+18=22... huh?"

9. "Everyone else finished their worksheet in 10 minutes and I'm only on the second problem trying to figure out this long division. I feel so rushed! Wow, I must be one stupid person..."

10. "I paid $52 and the shirt I bought was $26... so I get $16.44 back? No... $24.83 back? No, that's not right..."

What did you notice? What do these all have in common? Here's the answer: many numbers are mixed up, many are completely off, there is a lack of understanding as to where certain numbers come from, and many are rushed. These various complications represent what a person with dyscalculia may experience on a daily basis.

Whether it be math class or paying for bills/items/groceries, mathematical problems are difficult. But remember: this doesn't mean we're dumb. It just means that our brains learn in a unique way. Many individuals with dyscalculia excel in the arts, music, reading, writing, sports, and so on. We all have our own different types of intelligence.

I have also attached a link for a dyscalculia simulator that gives a better experience here. Please check it out!

Cover Image Credit: Alexa Rosenzweig

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