Hearing without Listening: Part Three

30 Oct

by Max Scott, Patient

  • Part five of the blog series “The desperate fight to be heard, and supported, when living with the invisible struggles of multimorbidity”
  • Introduction to the series here


As I remarked in my previous blog (Hearing Without Listening, Part Two) the effects of careless communication from Doctor to patient can be devastating to a patient’s morale and confidence. This is a point which I wish to make very strongly. Having already been shocked by my GP’s comments regarding my request to have tests, I was later to have another jolt.

It is hardly surprising, that trying to cope with adapting a lifestyle around so many differing conditions (see copy of my MedicAlert card above), eventually led to severe clinical depression. After having to endure yet more psychologically harmful opposition (“what good do you think talking about it will do on top of the tablets I’ve given you?” said a certain GP who should have known better), I was referred to a couple of Primary Care Mental Health Specialists (“the girls”, as I call them to my family) who I’ve been seeing fortnightly for the past couple of years, and have been invaluable in their support, even if it is just sometimes for me to offload. However, during one appointment, relatively early on in my sessions with them, came this question: “Does the thought of being well worry you?”. Well… no words can describe my state of incredulity upon hearing this. I was so upset by this question that I went away and wrote a letter to them before my next appointment, expressing my feelings. During our next meeting, it was explained to me that such questions are standard practice. But here is the problem for those with Multimorbidity: standard practice that question might be – if dealing purely with a mental health issue. But to somebody whose life has been changed forever by a multitude of conditions that often combine to make life hell, and impact massively on its quality, such a question becomes an affront. The person who said it to me has been part of a two-person team who have supported me as best as they can, and who would never have meant to upset or offend – but, by putting a question to me that was only linked to one of my health conditions, leaving aside the others, the damage was done.

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