"Unsympathetic doctor"

About: St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals NHS Trust Whiston Hospital

(as the patient),

I have mental health problems, and sometimes dissociate, which means I go into a different mind-set and do things, like self-harm, without even knowing or remembering it. Recently when I'm in a dissociative state, I have been putting things such as staples, into old scars on my legs.

My GP has been monitoring these sites on a weekly basis, to check for signs of infection. I have been experiencing increasing amounts of pain in my leg, around the area where the staples are. The pain got so bad it was disturbing my sleep. And slowly, the pain has started to affect more than just one part of my leg.

So I spoke to my GP who had a look and said there were signs of infection. The area was swollen, warm to touch and tender. While I was with her, she called the Plastics on-call who told me to go in the next day to have the staples removed.

The next day, I went through A&E like I'd been told to, and was sent to the Trauma unit on 3A. There, I saw a doctor.

The doctor's attitude from the start made me feel uneasy. He looked at my leg, and without getting close to it or even touching it, he told me the staples were not causing the pain I was experiencing. How did he know?

He then went on to tell me that I had to stop doing this and that I can't keep putting things in my leg and then coming to them expecting them to remove them as don't typically remove staples. At that moment I felt my eyes sting. But I refused to cry in front of him. The nurse and the other 3 doctors in the room simply stood and stared at me. I felt so humiliated and belittled. I wanted to explain the nature of dissociation to him, but I feared that if I spoke, the tears would start. He didn't check for signs of infection, or bother to ask me about any other symptoms I've been experiencing.

One of the other doctors then asked me about my medical history, medications etc. Then I was sent home.

As soon as I stepped off the ward, the tears poured from my eyes. How could he be so ignorant? He clearly had no understanding of mental health, dissociation and self-harm. He lacked basic bedside manner and effective communication skills.

I cried for most of the day.

Some people may wonder why this was such a big deal to me. Others will understand. I felt he discriminated against me because of my self-harm. I believe he refused to treat me because I had caused the injuries to myself. In my opinion, he knocked my confidence, and now I will have trouble trusting other medical professionals when it comes to self-harm.

In the 8 years that I've struggled with mental health problems, I have never come across such arrogance. I have mostly been treated fairly, with respect and dignity - treated like a human being. And now it's taken one person to ruin that. He has also reinforced my belief that I deserve to suffer - he clearly didn't care about the physical pain I'm in so why should anybody, including myself, care.

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