Twitter users are venting their frustrations with medical professionals who have ignored or gaslit them, sharing stories about their difficulties being taken seriously while trying to get a diagnosis for their illness or disability.
The #DoctorsAreDickheads hashtag was started by Kim Sauder – @crippledscholar on the platform – after witnessing an exchange between YouTuber Stevie Boebi and a doctor on Twitter, where the latter took umbrage with her stating “doctors are dickheads” while describing her experiences of being gaslit by medical professionals over the process of her trying to get her Ehlers-Danlos syndrome diagnosed.
The hashtag has also shown the struggles of women to be believed by medical professionals, who they feel do not take their problems seriously, sparking a complex and multi-faceted conversation on the #DoctorsAreDickheads hashtag.
When I asked my primary care doctor to give me a referral to a geneticist:
“Why? You don’t have anything that’s genetic”
LOL if you are not a geneticist how the FUCK do you know that?
(I was later diagnosed with EDS, which is genetic)#DoctorsAreDickheads
— Stevie 🔮 (@stevieboebi) October 23, 2018
My CRPS went undiagnosed and therefore untreated for years because the doctors thought I was making it up. CRPS is treatable if caught immediately, but because of the lack of care/competence from my doctors it has spread to my entire body and is untreatable. #DoctorsAreDickheads
— Ophelia Brown (@opheliajcbrown) October 23, 2018
I spent 20 years with both chronic and acute pain. My right hip and shoulder dislocate on a daily basis. I have a dozen comorbidities. I was told it was my weight, anxiety or all in my head. It was undiagnosed Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. #DoctorsAreDickheads
— Asher Wolf (@Asher_Wolf) October 24, 2018
Went to the Dr at age 14 for chronic disabling fatigue and pain. He said I was probably just in love. Was so mortified I stagnated in my room, pushed myself and denied my own reality and did damage to my body in the process. 11 years later was dx with EDS. #DoctorsAreDickheads
— Emily (@revolverbunny) October 24, 2018
My wife, suffering serious comorbidities after 40 years of diabetes, had a senior doctor say to her “you look fine on the outside, but inside you’re rotten.” It really upset her, and in her sleep for weeks after she’d mutter “rotten”. #DoctorsAreDickheads
— Ian Farquhar (@ianbfarquhar) October 24, 2018
Last pain Dr berated me 3 times about using my wheelchair. He also made me quit morphine cold turkey and told me I wouldn't have any withdrawal symptoms.
When bloodwork came back weird he said I needed a vacation.
— Livin La Vida Vampire 💀☠️👻🦇🦂🎃 (@MrsRainbowZebra) October 23, 2018
I’m so glad #DoctorsAreDickheads is a thing because medical trauma is real and there is a power imbalance there that should not exist and it frequently screws over already-marginalized people
— 🌻 lizzie 🌻 (@actuallyaurelia) October 24, 2018
For YEARS I came to doctors for help and they responded like this:
-Just put your feet up
-What do you want ME to do about it?
-There is nothing wrong with you.
-It might be your depression
-No, you don't have that.
-Your symptoms are not possible.#DoctorsAreDickheads
— Annie Segarra (@annieelainey) October 23, 2018
the interesting thing about #DoctorsAreDickheads are the physicians acting like it's about "mistakes" and "errors" and not systemic shit.
its almost like not listening to disabled people is a routine thing for them🤔🤔🤔🤔
— Jonathan Hume (@IamMrJ) October 24, 2018
Some were more critical of the hashtag, but many doctors tweeted to say that they felt it was an opportunity to listen to marginalised people and understand how better to help them.
#DoctorsAreDickheads is one of the worst hashtags I’ve seen on here. Some of the people who are tweeting bad stuff would soon have something to say if our health service wasn’t free. Staff are overworked and underpaid. NHS is one of the best things about this country.
— James (@_jamesgolding) October 25, 2018
If you’re tweeting #DoctorsAreDickheads seriously I suggest you save us the trouble next time you’re ill and not bother us.
— Maggie S (@MaggieTweeets) October 25, 2018
I've had bad experiences with doctors too, but if I worked as hard as doctors in the NHS & saw this, I would weep. Overworked doctors spread thin make mistakes. Blame the system and purposeful underfunding of the NHS. #DoctorsAreDickheads #doctorsareNOTdickheads
— Katherine Boos 👻 (@RealKHughes) October 25, 2018
Doctors are overworked. Doctors are underpaid. Doctors daily deal with life or death decisions. Doctors are under appreciated. Doctors spend more time with strangers families than they do their own. #DoctorsAreDickheads ..don’t think so.. #doctorsareNOTdickheads
— Ashley Ruck (@AshleyRuck) October 25, 2018
Just because you don't agree with someone's (highly educated & professional) opinion, it doesn't make them a dickhead. If people didn't unnecessarily see their GP, they'd have more time to treat people who really need their help. #doctorsaredickheads #doctorsareNOTdickheads
— MakeDoMumma (@makedomumma) October 25, 2018
Reading the #DoctorsAreDickheads stories, and I can only say, on behalf of my profession, sorry.
Sorry for all the times we didn't listen, all the times we hurt you, all the times we let hubris get in the way of care.
We have to do better, we have to care better.
— Dr Philip Lee (@drphiliplee1) October 24, 2018
I really shouldn’t have started reading the #DoctorsAreDickheads trend. It’s hard to read people’s stories of poor healthcare experiences and unprofessionalism from medical professionals.
I doubt my practice constantly. Trying hard not to be a dickhead. At work at least anyway…
— Katy Stevenson (@KatyStevenson_) October 24, 2018
I try my hardest to advocate for my patients in the office and in the community. I try my best to advocate for my colleagues. I am at peace with having tried my best & with my ongoing quest to be better. Bring it. I'm listening. 👂🏼#DoctorsAreDickheads #medtwitter
— Joannie Yeh MD (@BetaMomma) October 24, 2018
I'm a doctor. And I completely understand why #DoctorsAreDickheads is trending. Good hashtag to checkout if you need to be reminded what it's like to be on the other side of the exam table.
— B. Bobby Chiong, MD (@brianchiong) October 24, 2018
But please docs, read these stories. Even as we struggle w burnout and crushing work, we have so much power we can be so blind to. 1/
— Colleen Farrell, MD (@colleenmfarrell) October 24, 2018
Reading the #DoctorsAreDickheads stories and letting them break my heart. No defenses up. We fail patients, daily. And there are pervasive, systematic issues we need to come together to address and to heal. And that will come. Just not today.
Today is for listening. #medtwitter
— RanaAwdishMD (@RanaAwdish) October 24, 2018
Have you felt gaslit by medical professionals when trying to get a diagnosis, or even get help? Or are your experiences with doctors and GPs a positive one? Tweet us at @UniteMag or let us know your thoughts over at our Facebook.
Image: Flickr/Ben Nyberg