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My Visit With a Pediatrician

I have had recurrent issues with not being able to completely fill up my lungs since I was a teen. It happens out of the blue, but it’s very frustrating. I try to yawn, but it’s like my throat won’t open and I can’t complete the yawn. When I saw a doctor around age 18, he gave me an inhaler. It didn’t help. When I went back in college, they said it was anxiety. Well, I know it’s real, and it’s been getting worse. In fact, this past week it’s been bad enough that I am taking a morning claritin and pseudoephedrine to try and get ahead of the inevitable. Today, that didn’t help. For the first time ever, I went into a clinic today, and the only person available was a male pediatrician. I was appalled at the way he spoke to me. First off, he incorrectly named the MOA one of the drugs I am on, which is sad because it’s the one exception of a huge class of drugs. The point was the same, but he couldn’t even pronounce the name. That’s when I informed him I am a pharmacist.

He gave me an albuterol inhaler. I took 2 puffs, and he said, “so it’s all better now.” I replied, “NO, it didn’t help at all.”  He wanted to prescribe a steroid burst for me. I don’t have severe asthma, and I haven’t been on a course of ICS, and he wanted to put me on oral steroids. I declined, and he started with, “it’s no big deal. You aren’t going to develop diabetes or grow a third arm or anything”, all the while laughing. It was very condescending, so I asked him to please not talk to me that way. I have a good sense of humor, but this wasn’t humor between two equals. This was a male physician talking down to a female pharmacist. He even said that I had “little girl lungs”. I declined the steroids and tried to get a Rx for an ICS, but I got nothing, including no respect. He started talking about mild, intermittent, etc, and I followed along with him. I know the guidelines, and when the albuterol didn’t work, he should have given me a nebulizer treatment. If someone came in with difficulty breathing that was worsening over the past couple days, and albuterol didn’t help, would you send them home with no symptom relief? Regardless, I was amazed at the lack of respect he had for me and my decision about my care, as well as the lack of respect for my knowledge.

My albuterol still hasn’t helped, just like it didn’t help when I was 19. I still can’t complete my yawns or take a deep breath, am tripod breathing, and have a bark-like cough. I have looked it up online, and some say it’s anxiety, while others say it’s a tic. Really, no one knows, and most think it’s psychosomatic. Perhaps, someday, I will figure it out. Until then, I plan on finding a PCP on Maui who can actually help me.

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