A few years ago, my professional life turned personal.
I went from board-certified allergist immunologist to Sjogren’s patient and food allergy mom within 2 weeks.
I went from a confident expert to feeling dismissed, unsure and overwhelmed.
Exhausted. In pain. Scared.
Unable to trust my own body. Feeling guilty that I was responsible for my daughter’s health issues.
I struggled to communicate my needs to myself and my loved ones.
My husband and parents had no idea how to help and didn’t “get it”. I was short tempered with everyone including my sweet girls.
I felt let down by my care team more times than I would like to admit.
These were my colleagues.
Being repeatedly told- you’re fine.
You’re just exhausted…
Advocating to have labs drawn.
When the labs corroborated my symptoms…
Having to call, remind.
Pushing for my continued work up despite barely having enough energy to get through the day.
Feeling like I was bothering people but also annoyed and pissed off that I was sick.
Then a reality check...
An immune system expert..
A well-connected physician at a large academic center…
A well insured with a financial safety net…
Married with an educated and supportive spouse..
A cis-gender, white woman…
With ALL of this privilege I was struggling through this…
What about my patients?!
What about everyone else?!
Talk about an epiphany.
Yet I continue to struggle..
Knowing both sides…
Knowing the frustrations of being sick and tired of being sick and tired.
The irony of praying for abnormal labs just to feel validated.
Hoping for relief from the pain and anxiety and overwhelm.
All, while living near burnout as physician in a very broken medical system.
Being expected to see more patients, higher acuity, with fewer resources, in less time…
This is happening EVERYWHERE.
Primary care, specialists…
So many of us need to put up boundaries just to survive.
So what are we to do?
How can both physicians and patients navigate these treacherous waters together?
How can we get the care we know we need and deserve?
How can we feel like our time and energy is well spent supporting our patients' needs and improving their quality of life? Keeping true to our Hippocratic Oath.
ALL of this motivated me to write Building Bridges…
A workbook to help both patients and doctors make the most of their limited time together.
-To get on the same page.
-To understand boundaries.
-To align our goals.
For patients to approach their next medical visit with clarity and confidence.
For docs to feel like they are walking away helping their patient score a much needed win.
I may not be able to fix the system on my own, but I refuse to accept the current status quo..
as a doctor AND as a Sjogren's patient.
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