When Even Your Internist Doesn’t Get It

When Even Your Internist Doesn’t Get It

crohns
Like many people, I have a regular internist I see for checkups every now and again. A couple of weeks ago, I went for my annual physical. I happened to be experiencing a small flare at the time — and by small, I mean I only needed 30 mg of prednisone and was not lying in bed wishing I was dead. I was uncomfortable, but I knew in a few days it would be over.

I told her about the flare-up, and we went over my regular stuff: Blood pressure. A need for a cholesterol screening. A bone density screening because I’m on so much prednisone. A mammogram. Your average physical, right?

But then she asked, “Do you notice that you get Crohn’s flare-ups when you’re anxious about something?”

I wanted to scream. I know I’ve told her before that anxiety is not the cause of Crohn’s disease and she should know this anyway. I get anxious WHEN I HAVE A FLARE-UP because I know how awful I feel and how long it will be until I get better. And I also get anxious about how I have no options left and how I need my current regimen to work. This happens DURING the flare. It doesn’t START the flare.

But instead, I just said, “No, I don’t get flare-ups when I’m anxious. Crohn’s disease is not about anxiety causing flare-ups.”

She nodded. “What about yoga?” she asked. “Yoga could help.”

Now I got really mad, but I remained calm. Oh yes, yoga, I thought sarcastically. Why hadn’t I realized before, that if I only did yoga, my Crohn’s disease would magically go away? I took a deep breath.

“I don’t think yoga would help,” I said.

“Why not?” she asked. “Studies show it’s good for anxiety and can help certain ailments. Even Crohn’s disease.”

Listen, I wanted to say to her, if all people with IBD needed to do was show up at yoga class a few times a week to cure us, don’t you think we would have already done it?

But what I did say, weakly, was “I’ll think about it.” It got her off my case and we moved on to something else.

I am usually more forceful than that when it comes to Crohn’s. I tell people with these outdated and inaccurate beliefs exactly how Crohn’s works and why I can’t control it. I am stern in my tone. But just then, with the flare-up and wanting to go home, I was weak. Now, a couple of weeks later, feeling better, I want to go back and tell her how off-putting her yoga suggestion was.

But I won’t. And in case you’re wondering, I will still go see this particular internist, because overall she’s very good, I like her, and decent internists are hard to find. (My last one was writing prescriptions for me without really having a discussion with me about whether they were the correct ones and after barely making an attempt at a physical exam.)

But really, doctors, can you please get yourself more educated so I don’t have to do it for you? I have too much other stuff to worry about.

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5 comments

  1. Suzanne says:

    I personally don’t see the harm in yoga. There are no side effects. Maybe it’s not the answer for you but it may help someone else at least cope with a chronic condition. I wish more physicians would recognize alternative medicine alongside traditional.

  2. Melissa M says:

    I have Crohn’s and it dies t sound likecyoit internist was saying that all flare-ups are caused by stress or anxiety, but I know for myself and for many people with Crohn’s that stress/anxiety from other things in life can definitely cause my physical symptoms to get worse and possibly start a flare up. If your internist was suggesting yoga as a stress/reliever, I don’t think there’s anything bad about that. She wasn’t saying that yoga would cure Crohn’s but that it can help with stress, which in turn can be one of many tools that helps a lot of people during flare ups or possibly prolonging the remission in between flares.
    The times that I would get upset with a Dr. are if they were stating that Crohn’s is actually curable with yoga or that anxiety causes the disease itself.

  3. Steph says:

    Judy, I get it….. I experience the same scenarios when I see some of my specialists. I do say give yoga a try, there are some great, free classes on the internet but I think I understand your point of bringing it up. I’m tired of my specialists asking me each visit if I’m depressed. (I understand it’s with good intentions and they need to ask.) I give my standard reply, “No, I’m not depressed, I’m frustrated/scared that I’m running out treatment options and I’m so tired of being sick. I know it can be worse, and I’m grateful it’s not.” Thanks for sharing your feelings, I get it:) I feel for you and all your body is struggling with. Try to stay positive and I say give the yoga a try. I recently started and it’s empowering to take control of something with my body, even if it’s only for 15-30 minutes. I’m sending you positive, healing energy:) Best of luck!

  4. Emily Thompson says:

    I am so glad that I did yoga semi-regularly for the…wait for it…ten years preceding the onset of my symptoms.

    A whole freaking decade.

    I am not opposed to yoga.

    But it did not prevent my illness, and it ain’t gonna cure it neither. 🙂

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