You will be labeled

If you get sick
with something the doctors don’t understand
you will be labeled

They will try to drug you.

How do you tell
when they are right
and you are crazy
brain on fire
and when you aren’t?

Don’t ask me.
I’m a Family Practice doc
and I’m rural
and I’m a girl.

I’m the one they make fun of
in the medical schools.
“The rural doctor
transferred this patient.”

Yes we did.
Because we knew it was something
that needed more
than we had
in our small town
in our small hospital.

Once a neurosurgeon says,
“You are transferring the patient
because it’s Friday
and you don’t want to work
on the weekend.”
“She needs an MRI,” I say
“and we don’t have one.”
and transfer her anyway.
I call two days later.
After the MRI, she is in
the operating room
for a tumor in her spine.
He doesn’t call me back
but I hope he remembers.
I certainly do, after years
and years.

If you get sick
with something the doctors don’t understand
you will be labeled

12 thoughts on “You will be labeled

  1. curioussteph says:

    yup. Fps don’t know nothin’ and if your symptoms don’t make sense, you’re crazy. A very sick system, agrees this retired FP.

  2. I’m sorry, Katy. It’s not like we “get over” grief; it’s always there.

  3. “If you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.” But zebras do exist and sometimes we forget that. Maybe the best thing about working in a large teaching hospital was that we saw those zebras, so there was usually someone willing to do the work to find out what was really wrong (even when others insisted on the horses/zebras bromide). (And note that the advice says “zebras”, not “unicorns”.) I loved the specialists who knew they weren’t gods. When I contacted one to tell him he entered a note in the wrong patient chart and told him which patient he meant it for he thanked me and fixed it…and I’m not a doctor…and I’m not sure if he knew I am an old, white, cis-gendered man or just took me seriously because he knew it was right. I’m sorry about your sister. Those feelings like to come back, don’t they?

    • drkottaway says:

      Yeah, big time. I just had a friend die last month, who started losing weight last April and lost 30 pounds. Her doctors pretty much ignored it. I went on a road trip with her in September because I thought, uh-oh. She was diagnosed with lympoma in Februrary finally and got the final diagnosis two days before she died. Don’t get sick in Michigan.

  4. Josuรฉ Bittencourt says:


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