A while ago I mentioned my concerns about how I am renewing my Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and they want a report from my GP, but my GP is on maternity leave, so the GP's report will be filled in by a locum.
Unhappily, it seems that my fears were not completely unfounded.
Today was the day that Dr M (the locum) had asked me to come in for a double appointment so that she could fill in her part of the form. I went into her office, exchanged greetings, asked how she was, and sat down, just like always. She scrolled through my notes on the computer for a brief moment - perhaps five seconds by the clock - and then scrawled across the first box, the one asking what my illness is... "Anxiety and depression".
Sure, I sometimes get a bit anxious. I sometimes get a bit depressed. But not clinically so. I was given a low dose of antidepressant in the early stages of my illness. I did feel, and tell my GP I was feeling, both anxious and depressed about the new limitations on my way of life. She told me she was prescribing the antidepressant to cushion the blow of losing my job/hobbies/lifestyle, and because "sometimes it helps with ME. It doesn't hurt to try." In time I came to terms with things, and I've now come off the antidepressants, best part of a year ago, perfectly successfully - an opinion my real GP, Dr W, shares. If she felt I required treatment for anxiety or depression, she would refer me for it and I would attend it. I have absolute confidence in Dr W to do stuff like that.
I try not to swear on this blog, but with all that in mind, where the shuddering FUCK does this new girl get off, casually writing an inaccurate, or at best, incomplete diagnosis across a form that has a big impact on my life?
Dr M then cheerfully moved on to the next part of the form, that asks about any specialists I see. Asking me, but looking at the computer notes, she saw that I went to the specialist ME/CFS clinic at one of the local hospitals, and that there is a report from Dr Terry Mitchell, an expert in the field. Only when she saw that Dr Mitchell himself had seen me, assessed me, and confirmed in writing and in so many words that I *do* have ME/CFS and *don't* have depression, did she go back and add "CFS" to the box on the form asking for my diagnoses. However, it's in small writing, tucked underneath the large central "anxiety and depression", which hasn't been crossed out.
From then on, the consultation felt like some kind of horrible parody. She spoke too quickly, confused the hell out of me, and I couldn't get my words in the right order or quick enough to stop her. She was looking at the form muttering "washing, feeding, [unintelligible], getting dressed, no, you don't have any problems with those..." and I only just managed to say in time "yes I do!" - she looked like she was going to cross through the box. A little later, she stated "I can't imagine you have any trouble being aware of danger," and I told her to tell that to the friends who keep having to pull me back from the road because I'm concentrating so hard on walking that I forget to pay attention to traffic. It was all going too fast, I didn't get a chance to describe any of my symptoms properly or adequately explain any of the problems I have.
I'm fairly sure my mobility is part of that form. It was Dr W who first suggested to me that I should get a wheelchair and a mobility scooter - Dr M, however, doesn't even know I have them or the difference they make to my life, and she certainly didn't ask me anything about what walking is like for me.
I'm fairly sure that equipment I use is part of that form. Dr W has spent time discussing with me all sorts of tips and equipment for remembering medication and managing stuff, but Dr M has assumed I'm automagically fine with it all.
I'm fairly sure that my care needs are part of that form. Dr W knows the extent of care and support I get from my family and friends, because she's my family GP. Dr M was filling out the form murmuring things like "you're pretty much independent then, yes..."
Dr W lets me bloody well finish a sentence. Dr M starts writing my answers in before I've opened my mouth.
After just under ten minutes of this gobsmacking whirlwind of misapprehensions (oh, looks like we didn't need a double appointment after all), Dr M squiggled her signature on the form and clipped it back together. God knows what she's written on it. It should get faxed to the DWP late today or some time tomorrow (so I'll call them in a week or so to make sure it's definitely been recieved, as they're notorious for "losing" documents). Then she made it entirely, bluntly clear that the consultation was over, and even seemed impatient with me struggling to stand - although I may have imagined that, as I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by then.
As I waited outside the surgery for a taxi home, the headmuddle resolved itself first into worry (oh no, her report will be completely different to what I've said on my forms because I didn't explain myself properly) and then into anger (godammit, her report will be completely different from the actual truth because she wouldn't listen to me or read the notes properly).
By the time I got home, I'd got the anger into annoyedness (gah, her report will be significantly different to what Dr W would have written) and worked out a plan. I've called the DWP, explained the situation, and asked what we could do. The call-taker asked if I wanted to request that they ignore the report, but I said no (because I understand that she's attaching Dr Mitchell's report from the CFS clinic, and that IS worth a read to anyone assessing me). But she put a note on my file, and read it back to me to confirm it, to the effect that I have "raised concerns" about my GP's report being from a locum, rather than the GP who manages my illness, and that I do not feel the locum is fully informed or understanding of my condition.
I'm knackered, so sorry that this wasn't my best ever post. I'm also a bit concerned that if my application is turned down on the basis of Dr M's assumptions, I don't know how I'll manage to see through an appeal. I really could have done without this. I don't think I'm the illest person on earth and I have no desire to play the system, but I would like the doctor I see to listen to me, and I want to receive the benefits I am reasonably entitled to.