When Even Your Internist Doesn’t Get It

When Even Your Internist Doesn’t Get It
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Like many people, I have a regular internist I see for checkups every now and again. A couple of weeks ago, I went for my annual physical. I happened to be experiencing a small flare at the time — and by small, I mean I only needed 30 mg of prednisone and was not lying in bed wishing I was dead. I was uncomfortable, but I knew in a few days it would be over.

I told her about the flare-up, and we went over my regular stuff: Blood pressure. A need for a cholesterol screening. A bone density screening because I’m on so much prednisone. A mammogram. Your average physical, right?

But then she asked, “Do you notice that you get Crohn’s flare-ups when you’re anxious about something?”

I wanted to scream. I know I’ve told her before that anxiety is not the cause of Crohn’s disease and she should know this anyway. I get anxious WHEN I HAVE A FLARE-UP because I know how awful I feel and how long it will be until I get better. And I also get anxious about how I have no options left and how I need my current regimen to work. This happens DURING the flare. It doesn’t START the flare.

But instead, I just said, “No, I don’t get flare-ups when I’m anxious. Crohn’s disease is not about anxiety causing flare-ups.”

She nodded. “What about yoga?” she asked. “Yoga could help.”

Now I got really mad, but I remained calm. Oh yes, yoga, I thought sarcastically. Why hadn’t I realized before, that if I only did yoga, my Crohn’s disease would magically go away? I took a deep breath.

“I don’t think yoga would help,” I said.

“Why not?” she asked. “Studies show it’s good for anxiety and can help certain ailments. Even Crohn’s disease.”

Listen, I wanted to say to her, if all people with IBD needed to do was show up at yoga class a few times a week to cure us, don’t you think we would have already done it?

But what I did say, weakly, was “I’ll think about it.” It got her off my case and we moved on to something else.

I am usually more forceful than that when it comes to Crohn’s. I tell people with these outdated and inaccurate beliefs exactly how Crohn’s works and why I can’t control it. I am stern in my tone. But just then, with the flare-up and wanting to go home, I was weak. Now, a couple of weeks later, feeling better, I want to go back and tell her how off-putting her yoga suggestion was.

But I won’t. And in case you’re wondering, I will still go see this particular internist, because overall she’s very good, I like her, and decent internists are hard to find. (My last one was writing prescriptions for me without really having a discussion with me about whether they were the correct ones and after barely making an attempt at a physical exam.)

But really, doctors, can you please get yourself more educated so I don’t have to do it for you? I have too much other stuff to worry about.


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