An Open Letter to All the Doctors Who Missed My EDS

By Crystal Lindell, Columnist

I hate you. I actually hate you.

Well, maybe not all of you.

But most of you, yes I hate. Actually, hate is too nice word. I detest you. I loathe you. I have venom in my heart for you. I hope your favorite show gets cancelled after a cliff hanger. I hope your air conditioner breaks in your car in July. I hope your crush never likes any of your Instagram photos. I hope every single time you go through the Taco Bell drive thru, they mess up your order. And I hope your phone screen cracks, your laptop crashes and you lose everything you ever saved.

I was recently diagnosed with Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos syndrome (hEDS), a connective tissue disorder that not only explains why my ribs always feel broken, but also why I’m always covered in unexplained bruises, why I sprain my ankles too often, why my vision changed for no reason, why my skin is baby soft, and why I crave salt.

And so many doctors missed it. And I can’t get it out of my head.

Like the doctor at Loyola who told me to stop coming to see him because there was nothing else he could do about my pain.

And the other doctor at Loyola who looked right at me while I was sitting on the exam table in just a paper-thin gown and said, “Well there are two options. You either woke up with a completely unexplainable pain, or you’re a great actress.”

I was so caught off guard that I didn’t even realize he was accusing me of trying to get drugs for like a full 30 seconds.

I also hate literally every single doctor at the Mayo Clinic that missed this crap. You know how easy it is to do an initial test for hEDS?

Doctor: "Can you bend your thumb to your wrist?"

Patient: "Yes."

Doctor: "Yeah, you probably have it. Let’s do a full evaluation."

IT’S THAT EASY!!!

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The Mayo Clinic missed it because they were obsessed with me going to their rehab clinic and getting off opioids, despite the fact that it wasn’t covered by my insurance and that they required a $35,000 upfront payment.

So yes, I hate all of you.

I also hate every single chiropractor I ever saw. Seriously, all you guys do is see people in pain, and it never crosses your mind to evaluate for EDS? Why are you not asking every single patient who walks through your doors if they can touch their thumb to their wrist? What is wrong with you?

Not to mention the fact that chiropractors have to be super careful with EDS patients, if they treat them at all, because things can dislocate and all that. It’s irresponsible of you not to be evaluating every single patient for EDS.

I also hate the pain specialist who berated me for not wanting a spinal cord stimulator. If he had evaluated me for EDS, he would have known that a spinal cord stimulator would have probably been a horrible idea for me. Like chiropractors, all pain specialists do is see people in pain. They should be evaluating every single patient they see for EDS too! 

The whole thing is so infuriating and frustrating. I sincerely wish I could go back to every single doctor I have seen over the last five years and personally tell all of them how much I hate them. And then I wish I could tell all of them to freaking check people for EDS. But I can’t do that. All I can do is write this letter and then try to move forward with my new life and my new diagnosis.

But if you’re a pain patient and you can touch your thumb to your wrist, get checked for EDS. Seriously.

And if you’re a doctor, do better.

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Crystal Lindell is a journalist who lives in Illinois. She eats too much Taco Bell, drinks too much espresso, and spends too much time looking for the perfect pink lipstick. She has hypermobile EDS. 

Crystal writes about it on her blog, “The Only Certainty is Bad Grammar.”

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.