I have been sick lately. It turns out I have an auto-immune disorder that is raising all kinds of hell with me. I have been really pretty damn sick with this, and I have been in pain and stressed out. I have made the rounds to quite a few doctors and I have made a grim discovery. When you are a person that looks a certain way, when you are a person who has a certain history, when you are a person who is open and forthright with doctors about things you have experienced in life – you are pretty much screwed when it comes to compassionate health care.

In the past two months or so I have been turned away from numerous doctors because of prior drug issues I had. I feel I cannot get a doctor to look past my tattoos and see me as a person. I am actually pretty fortunate that I got myself signed up for some health insurance this year, so at least I have been able to get in to see doctors in the first place. I am angry though that they think any mention of pain or anxiety is me “drug-seeking”… it’s not. It’s me having pain or anxiety. Where does the line get drawn between them being cautious and them being cruel and uncaring?

This really makes me think about the folks who have even less of a support system than I do. The mentally ill and addicted who have become homeless. How in the HELL do they get any level of health care if they encounter illness or injury? How about those that are still actively living addicted lifestyles, but somehow they just get sick. Like an illness that is unrelated to their addiction issues. Are they actually considered unworthy of care and compassion because they are addicted, or mentally ill, or both? I already knew the homeless had it rough. But my experience over the past couple months with doctors has really been eye opening for me. If an addict has gotten clean and then gets sick and needs help, and can’t get it anywhere, doesn’t it seem pretty likely they could relapse simply out of lack of options? Hell yah, it does. And it sucks.

I will personally be OK one way or the other. Because I need to be there for my family, and because I won’t let this shit get me down. But it has been very discouraging to see how I’ve been treated, and to realize I am pigeonholed into this role due to mistakes I made going on ten years ago. I thought one of the rules of doctoring was “do no harm”?

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