"My message to the rude consultant? Manners cost nothing"

About: Queen's Medical Centre / Trauma and orthopaedics

(as the patient),

I am 25 years of age and have been unfortunate enough to have suffered from mechanical lower back pain for 10 years. I have been under the care of a variety of consultants, some good, some not so good. Many things have changed with regards to how backs are now treated; gone are the days when lying on a hard wooden floor was the cure-all for backache!

Sadly my last consultant experience was not one I would like to repeat. I am currently under the care of a senior consultant, who of course I have never actually met, but was seen by another consultant in September. As usual there was a 2 hour wait in the spinal outpatients department (this is one of the few things that hasn't changed in the 10 years I have had back trouble) and of course the chairs are extremely uncomfortable (just right for all those bad necks and backs)! Once again my 'consultation' took place in the examination room, not the consulting room (very unpleasant) and the consultant, head down in a file, limply shook my hand and mumbled what I think was his name - I actually had to call the department back to ask for the consultant's name as I couldn't hear him! I asked how my latest MRI compared to previous ones; he didn't know, he hadn't seen my file. He looked very annoyed that he was seeing me over 2 hours later than scheduled - so was I, I had been waiting that long too. He was not interested in how I was doing, was the pain worse/better/different (well, he had nothing to compare it to anyway). The worst part was his parting comment; whilst disappearing back into his consultation room he poked his head around the door and said "it's not that bad anyway". That is not something a doctor should ever be saying to a patient who has had 10 years of continuous pain. Chronic pain is debilitating, depressing, tiring and very unpleasant for the sufferer and their family. I was disgusted. Of all the consultants I have seen at the QMC, never have I been made to feel more utterly pathetic. He belittled me and didn't even realise what he had done.

I do not let my pain prevent me from getting on with my life; yes it is painful and unpleasant, but I will not mope or become bitter. It is however comments like those of this consultant that make you feel like you are wasting peoples time. Now, if my leg had been hanging off...

My message to health care professionals is this; manners cost nothing.

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