What It’s Like to Have ‘Doc-Anxiety’ With a Chronic Illness

Samantha Bowick
Jan 4 · 3 min read

Living with chronic illnesses is a challenge. We have to go to doctor appointments regularly to have our blood tested for different things. We have to have MRIs, CT scans, ultrasounds, colonoscopies, laparoscopic surgeries or other surgeries and procedures. Most likely, we have experienced at least one doctor who didn’t believe us, who wouldn’t listen to us and what treatment options we wanted to try, who let their ego get in the way of standard health care. Even though we may find a great doctor who listens to us and what we want to do, the bad apple can ruin doctors in general for us.

When I first started going to the doctor before I was diagnosed with endometriosis, I trusted doctors. I believed what they were telling me and didn’t think to do my own research outside of what they were telling me. They took an oath to do no harm, right? Yes they did, but that’s not 100 percent foolproof. They are human and don’t always have our best interest at heart. They may be set in their own ways and don’t have great bedside manner for their patients.

I have encountered several doctors like this, which in turn has lead me to be anxious any time I go to the doctor now. I ask myself questions, such as: Will this doctor believe me and listen to me? Will this doctor treat me like I don’t know what I’m talking about? Will this doctor do anything for my pain or just let me suffer because they don’t want to admit they don’t know the answer and refer me to a specialist? Will this test show something is going on or will it show everything is “normal” and my doctor will tell me there’s nothing they can do for me?

Waiting in the waiting room to be called back to a patient room also causes anxiety. Waiting for test results causes anxiety. Will I have this illness? Will I be able to get treatment? Will I ever be pain free?

Even now after 10 years of going back and forth to different doctors, going to the doctor increases my anxiety: let’s call it “doc-anxiety.” I get extremely nauseous and sweaty. My heart beats faster, sometimes my blood pressure is higher than it would be normally and I have a million things running through my brain. I dread going to the doctor even though I make lists of questions I want to ask about my illness, treatment options, my symptoms, etc. If I didn’t make these lists, my doc-anxiety would be more increased. I try my best to take slow, deep breaths and think about the beach (a place I love) while I’m waiting, but sometimes it isn’t enough. Depending on how my appointment went, my doc-anxiety may still be there for the rest of the day or longer.

If you have doc-anxiety or any type of anxiety for that matter, know you are not alone. Know that having anxiety doesn’t make you weak. There are good doctors out there, and I have to keep that in mind anytime I go to the doctor.

Sending you hugs.

Previously published on The Mighty.

Samantha Bowick

Written by

Samantha Bowick is the author of two books; founder of Chronic Illness Support, LLC; podcast host for Chronic Illness Support; patient advocate; and has an MPH.

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