When your doctor doesn't listen to you... tips for getting the care you need

#1

I recently changed my primary care physician because my prior doctor of 15 years retired. Good for him, but not for us! We were spoiled by such a high-quality osteopath.

My new physician is pretty good, but I’ve discovered she doesn’t put much attention toward sleep. She doesn’t ask me about sleep, and she misread my health records showing a sleep disorder, sleep studies, and treatment. When I’ve raised the subject again, it got lost in a discussion about another chronic health concern I have.

I bring this up because, even though I’m a sleep professional, I understand directly as a patient what it feels like to have symptoms and complaints dismissed by doctors. I know I’m not alone here with this challenge.

I’m luckier than most: I have a dentist who is trained in dental sleep medicine and he and I have worked closely on my UARS and use of oral device. It’s time to re-address that therapy, so I was able to get his professional opinion in writing form and deliver it to my PCP. I also have a neurologist who is poised to refer me should my primary overlook my request again.

So this is a solution I can offer to others who think they have a sleep problem or need a study, but who may not be listened to by their own doctors: find another specialist you are already seeing, who can connect the dots, and have them give you the recommendations needed to inspire your doctor to get you the referral you need.

That could be a dentist, a neurologist, an ear-nose-throat specialist, a pulmonologist, even a cardiologist or an endocrinologist. Sleep disorders can be a whole-body problem and not just one of snoring or having trouble falling asleep. Even a specialist in rheumatoid arthritis can write you a letter if they think your untreated sleep problems are contributing to a degenerative disease course and increases in pain.

Many general practitioner doctors are not trained to look for and identify underlying sleep problems. They might have had an hour’s worth of training in sleep health during med school. If this sounds like your doctor, then you might try getting support from another medical professional. These days, it’s more important than ever to be your own advocate so that you, as a patient, don’t fall between the cracks in the system.

#2

I’d like to open this up to all members: if you have had a doctor in the past who seemed uninterested in sleep, what ways have you been able to get their attention about your sleep concerns so you could get a specialist to take a look? Or what problems with communicating this need are you having now? Maybe we can all help each other.

–Tamara

#3

Hello Tamara! my name is Harald and I had sleeping problems for many years since I was 28, I am now 45 and well now thankfully, I will tell you a little bit about myself.

I am a normal person, I drive trucks for a living and I have a wife and a child, but when I was 28 I started to have sleeping problems, it got so bad that I lost my job at an IT company I worked at because I could not focus! I was miserable… so that’s when I decided to go get help so I went to a doctor, he told me it was normal for people under a lot of stress to be sleep deprived and he just said to get some tea before bed and make sure not to drink coffee or anything that could mess with my system, what an answer!!! worst part is that I payed $300USD for that visit! and did it help me? NO. So I went back and another doctor prescribed me with opiates. It changed my life forever.

The medicine I was prescribed like I said were opiates, I was practically doing heroin legally… but the worst part about it is when I started to get hooked, It did help me with sleep but as time went on I developed an opium addiction, and this is were things went downhill from me, I went bankrupt because I didn’t have enough money to pay for my meds, and since I was hooked I was hospitalized because of withdrawal syndrome, so I had to go to the black market to get some illegal heroin, at first I just used powder but as I went more broke and I needed a stronger dosage I started to shoot up, my girlfriend at the time left me for that. And she worked at the company I worked at as well so when my boss found out I got fired…

I was done, I wanted to end it all but then I logged into the internet on 2005 for the first time and I found some comments on an online forum on medicinal marijuana and I decided to give it try, I went to this rehab place where they used the herb to deal with withdrawal syndrome and it saved my life, I got clean and I now live a happy live with a wife and kids.

I still look for sleeping advice on the internet because I am so scared my condition will come back so I got into sites such as this one every now and then to try some new sleeping positions and tips on sleep. I guess this all goes to show that sometimes the doctors are the bad guys and sometimes the “bad drugs” are the ones that really cure you, I am so grateful for my life right now, I live happy and well and if somebody is having sleeping disorders, seek help! we sometimes take it for granted! thank you so much for listening.

best regards Tamara!