I met this crazy rheumatologist, let’s call him Dr. Dickhead. I met Dr. Dickhead several months ago by a referral from my doctor over some scary test results. This is his story.
I moved to the Atlanta metro area last year, and had yet to go to an Emory facility. Then a couple of months ago I was referred by my PCP to Emory at Decatur Rheumatogy, that’s when I met Dr, Dickhead. I was referred based on a very high ANA test result along with debilitating joint pain, among other symptoms.
The first hurdle was simply getting an appointment with Dr. Dickhead. I called for a week to try to get an appointment, and kept being told (when someone answered the phone) that someone else would call me back. On the third call to a woman at the front desk, they told me that someone named “Kim” was who I needed to talk to. They confirmed that they had received my pre-appointment paperwork and said she would call me that day. I never heard from her. I chalked this office up to chaos and decided to call the Emory hotline to help me find a doctor. With the help of that hotline I secured another appointment with a different doctor, but they could not get me in until November.
My doctor believed I needed seen before that, so she took matters into her own hands and called Dr Dickhead’s office. I received a call the next day, wherein I was told that they called and left a voicemail (they had not) and basically told that I just have just missed it (I had not). Then “Kim” made the appointment with me.
The above situation was a small inconvenience compared to how I was actually treated by the doctor himself when I got to my first appointment.
As soon as Dr. Dickhead walked into the room with me, he began to berate my doctor, a women it would appear he doesn’t know, and complain that it was like, “pulling teeth” to get my pre-appointment paperwork. I had already confirmed two weeks before that they had received it, not to mention the fact that the day my doctor’s office sent it over I called the office several times to talk to someone to confirm they received it. They had.
After he finished his tirade on my doctor’s office and how horrible “offices like that” are, he asked me to tell him about my symptoms. At this point I was shocked. I wasn’t sure what he meant by a doctor’s office “like that,” but was increasingly feeling like as a white male, he didn’t appreciate or understand my very female, very female originally from the Middle East, doctor. Ahem.
But I was stuck and thought he was the only one who could help me, so I proceeded to tell him my symptoms, but he immediately stopped me. He did this several times throughout the appointment, both stopping me to tell me he “didn’t care” about one symptom or another, or that he was “all done” listening to me.
I’m not sure if he’s had other women complain about him being rude, with a horrible bedside manner and slight bend toward masochism, sexism in the least, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he has. He had me so upset and flustered I started to forget all the things I needed to talk to him about and I transposed the dates of my first symptoms. He berated me for not remembering the exact dates, which added to the confusion, not to mention that was one of my symptoms, a brain fog that hasn’t lifted like the joint pain, no matter what I try.
But he didn’t seem go particularly want to hear about my symptoms, rather he wanted to tell me how I was feeling and should have felt. He kept mentioning that “as a man” he can only do one thing at a time, so when I would remember something that he wanted to know he would shush me if he was writing. Like, actually “shush” me. Then make that “I’m a man” joke like I was supposed to forgive him because his gender doesn’t know any better. I was starting to think I was on one of those shows where a person with a camera pops out and tells me I’ve been punked.
He all but told me he didn’t believe any of my symptoms, although he several times repeated, “I believe you, I believe you.” I’m not sure what that was about, but I didn’t care whether or not he believed me–I had already been diagnosed from the symptoms I was discussing with Raynaud’s Disease, by my doctor. Of course I’m sure he didn’t believe her capable of diagnosing me…
He eventually told me that there were over 100 auto-immune disease that he had to “cross off the list” and test for, but that we would find out what was wrong, though he told me more than once that my very high ANA test was probably a “false positive.” When I asked him why I could be in so much pain then, he said it was probably an overreaction of my immune system. Isn’t that why I had a high ANA then? I asked, confused at this point and he said, “doesn’t matter.” Kinda felt like it mattered to me though, seeing as I’ve been rendered almost completely immobile several times over the past three months.
Eventually we got to the current symptoms (I had to think back over the last several years) and I started to tell him about the joint pain, the swollen blood vessels that have appeared on my legs, the weird skin problems I have been having and then I said a word that apparently was like a knife to him, “steroids.” I explained that on my original visit to Urgent Care, and then to my subsequent visit to my doctor, both medical professionals had prescribed steroids to help ease the pain, and he went absolutely bananas. Like, he fucking lost it, y’all.
He stopped taking notes, he told me that anything I said “after that point” was not important and was just symptoms from the steroids. He ranted about how horrible they were and that that explained my test. When I informed him that I hadn’t taken them before that test, he flipped out again. Threw his pen down and made a big show of it, arms up, like a child. That’s when I assumed he was a Trump supporter.
I assured him that I had these symptoms before I took the steroids and he said simply, “No you didn’t.” The problem was, I did. I mean, I know I’m just a woman, Dr. Dickhead, but I’m not completely ignorant.
He then did a physical exam, wherein he told me I had no symptoms of Raynaud’s Disease (something to do with swollen arteries in my toes and fingers that he looked at with a small magnifying glass of some kind) while he told me that “Big Box Clinics” were horrible and asked why I even went to one. I tried to explain that I had experienced suddenly swollen joints with a fever and they were afraid I might have Covid-19, so my doctor wanted me to visit an Urgent Care first to be tested. But of course he didn’t hear any of that, as he was still saying that “steroids are bad” and any doctor who prescribes them are horrible.
At this point, as you might imagine, I shut down. He never even let me tell him other symptoms. He asked me to tell him more, but I was nervous about being berated more, and I didn’t know what he wanted to know as the main reason I was there, aside from the ANA test results, was for joint pain, which he told me I didn’t really have. He then told me he would run bloodwork and that bloodwork would “show him the truth,” which I took to mean that I was a liar.
The last thing I asked him was whether or not I should take the other steroids that had been prescribed to me. I had another pack to help ease the pain I was having and he laughed and said that it would skew tests (of which I would have no more) and that I should never take steroids “unless you have something that requires them.” I asked him if I should stay with the physical therapist and he said, “Do what you want.” I said it didn’t seem to be helping, so I would stop. The last thing I asked him before I was ushered to the lab for bloodwork, was how I was supposed to help ease the joint pain and Dr. Dickhead told me “to suffer.” And so I did.
That’s brings me to my follow-up last week, three weeks after my initial appointment which seemed long, considering the lab said he would have my results in 3-5 days. I was there for an hour before I saw him, meanwhile I overheard him talking to a male patient in the next room (where he seemed very nice and cordial). As an aside, that office has very thin walls. At first I thought it was because Dr. Dickhead has a shrill, loud voice, but then I heard the women at the front talking about all sorts of things (one woman, “Kim” was mad that they had let her teenage daughter participate in a mock election at school. “Why would I want my daughter to be involved in that?” She wondered to someone. The other person replied, “Isn’t she 14? Won’t she be voting in the next general election?” To which “Kim” replied, “I told her she didn’t have to vote, that’s her right.” So yeah, that’s the kind of people working at Dr. Dickhead’s office.)
When he finally got to my room, Dr. Dickhead told me that I did in fact have Raynaud’s Disease, this as I said, I already knew. He also told me that I was an “interesting” patient and that he could diagnose me with more, or run more tests (because I had some “interesting” finding) but that he wasn’t going to do that.
He told me I could have CREST Syndrome, or a couple of others, but that I probably didn’t. He didn’t schedule any more tests, he didn’t do as he promised (crossing more tests off the list to find out what is wrong with me) and he didn’t answer my questions. He basically said, “I’m telling your doctor you are fine.” Then wrote my paperwork and told me to take a baby aspirin every day.
When he asked if I had questions I had a few, like why was I still experiencing joint pain? He said, “I don’t know, I’m done.” Then when I asked if these auto-immune diseases, the ones he said I may or may not have, could impact other symptoms I am experiencing, including the aforementioned swollen blood vessels, the reddening skin, the ulcers, the gastrointestinal issues, etc. He said, “I’m not taking responsibility for any of that on.” Then he said goodbye.
My whole experience mad me so upset I wanted to scream. Instead I wrote a strongly-worded email to Emory (I won’t hold this one experience against Emory as a whole) and asked what I do now.
I have an appointment with my doctor in a few weeks, and I plan to tell her all the awful things he said about her and her office, but I still have the appointment with the other Rheumatogist in November, which I would like to see because I honestly have no idea what to do next. Do I need more tests to cross out more diseases? Do I need to watch for any other symptoms? Raynaud’s can stand alone, or be the first symptom in a string of other, bad diseases like CREST which can have negative impacts on your cardiovascular system.
I’m honestly still shocked and in awe of what I went through with a “medical professional” and one that represents a place like Emory. I had heard such great things about Emory, and I was disappointed, but most of all, I was shamed, made to feel like a liar, made to believe what I was feeling was not real, made to think I was sort of crazy. Not to mention the fact that I was repeatedly talked down to, from the receptionist to the doctor. My best experience throughout that whole ordeal with with the lab next door (LabCorp). The calmed me down that day, when I felt like crying.
I’m sharing today because I learned a valuable lesson: I won’t be letting anyone treat me that way again, there are too many other nice people in this world. And please don’t let anyone treat you that way either.
Let’s stand up for ourselves, shall we?