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Why we still need better health care in Australia

So for the record, I have psoriatic arthritis, Kyphoscoliosis, Asthma, something else I can’t spell let alone pronounce that basically means the bottom of both my lungs are permanently collapsed. There bent backward to be exact and as such the blood supply couldn’t reach them and they’ve died. I also live with C-PTSD and related PTS heart murmur that is managed monthly by an amazing psychiatrist that I would be lost without and a cardiologist as needed.But for 7 years I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and so for 7 years I was without appropriate medication or support, which brings me to, todays rant. I Live in a Lucky country and comparatively speaking, I live with A LOT of privilege, like universal health care and disability pensions. Because I was born in Australia, I have enjoyed access to almost freehealthcaree my whole life and because I live here and qualify for a pension, I receive little less than a minimum wage here in Australia from My government so that I may live a reasonable quality of life. So let me be the first to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU AUSTRALIA!!!! But despite all this privilege, I worry that it isn’t enough, that we as humans need to do more for each other, not financially but emotionally.For 7 years I was misdiagnosed not because there was a lack of evidence pointing to another cause but because of a refusal by public funded doctors to see past their own bias. For 7 years I was repeatedly shamed as a hypochondriac, despite medical evidence saying otherwise.  3 times I presented to emergency and was immediately sent for a psychiatric consult, all 3 times, there was something physically and seriously wrong with me. The first time It happened I was in Brisbane and was having a severe allergic reaction to over the counter medications interacting with my tramadol. The senior ambulance officer made the judgement call, that they would only take me to the hospital if I was willing to admit myself for a mental health evaluation. His reasoning, his mother has fibromyalgia and he knew the histrionics we played with and thus refused me any kind of medical care. Eventually, the psychiatrist did interview me and forced the hospital to treat me medically. After 32 hours in Emergency, vomiting uncontrollably, sobbing from abdominal cramps, a high temperature and shaking, the ER doc figured out, It was the over counter medication causing the issue. Not a Fibro induced histrionic episode. The next time it happened I was in Adelaide, and as it turned out, I had appendicitis but it took a forced psych evaluation and the treating psychiatrist to demand I be treated as a medical patient before the hospital ran any tests, again the Doctors on call in the ER that night, deemed my vomiting, sweating, shaking and pain to be nothing more than psychosomatic fibro related pain. The Last time it happened it was in Victoria, I was again suffering from a severe allergic reaction to medication and again they refused to treat me, they didn’t demand a psych eval this time though, they simply sent me home with an antihistamine and the advice I talk to my Psychiatrist about pain management. 24 hours later I was Back in the ER with my face closed up and my throat near closed, I had gone into a slow but potentially lethal anaphylactic shock, all of this combined with my treating Rheumatologists dismissal of my symptoms and bloodwork that forced me to go private. He repeatedly mocked and laughed at the concerned letters from my podiatrist, physiotherapist and myself that something more than fibromyalgia was going on. He told me my blood inflammation levels were so high because I was fat, he told me if I couldn’t handle the pain, then my psychiatrist wasn’t doing his job properly, and he lied blaming fibromyalgia on my rapid foot growth, and severe swelling in my neck, hands, and knees. Thankfully it was his complete disrespect of my treating psychiatrist that pushed me to my limit, I have an amazing relationship with my psychiatrist, so my rheumatologist, laughing at him, without bothering to learn who he is (my psych is literally one of the top treating psychs in VIC and an authority on psychiatry) was the end point for me. I went back to my Psychiatrist and asked him if he could refer me elsewhere, I figured birds of a feather flock together, so I knew it was a good chance that my psychiatrist’s peers would be at the top of their field too and I was right! But that costs $$$, it would cost and is still costing me a small fortune between 300 and 500 per medical visit to see my new Doctors and i would pay even more money to ensure my own going medical needs are met. Yes it means I have to drive 3 hours each way to see these specialists, but unlike my local government funded doctors, this Rheumatologist, takes my medical needs and test results seriously. Because of her, and the subsequent medication I am now on for psoriatic arthritis, my blood inflammation markers are under 50 for the first time in 7 years, I am exercising 4 times as much, I can toilet myself without medical aids, I can walk faster, I can bend again and I’m no longer sobbing in mind blowing pain every day. Because of her, I am trying to go back to school, just today I enrolled at Tafe to study online and because of this new found hope, I am actually planning a life that doesn’t revolve around disability or living on a pension. Because of her, I will one day pay taxes again, the very taxes that fund the inadequate public health system that shunned me.Why so many doctors from so many regions across Australia believe Fibromyalgia is a psychiatric condition despite being managed by Rheumatology, I will never know, I only know the public treating Rheumatologist I saw repeatedly used my exhaustion and nerve pain as a justification for his belief that all of my sufferings was psychosomatic and in my head. Why he and so many others felt compelled to give me an additional diagnosis of fibromyalgia when the existing diagnosis of C-PTSD already covers the reason for neuropathic pain and why they believe it’s ok to ignore blood tests, CT scans, xrays and reports from allied treating professional all pointing to something else in lieu of a convenient psychiatric justification.  And perhaps in that lays the answer, are our public treating doctors so overworked that they are constantly on the lookout for ways to handball patients, and it’s convenient to label someone a hypochondriac, because it means you don’t have to deal with them, at least until the treating psychiatrist demands you do that is.I don’t have any answers, sadly all I have is questions and sadness, I lost 7 years of my life, being treated like an attention seeking drama queen, all because Doctors here in Australia don’t want to deal with the diagnosis they don’t understand. Today I am rebuilding my life, but I have also lost a lot and sadly learnt that in Australia even the medical system thinks it’s ok to treat psych patients like second class citizens, time and time again I tried to help myself and repeatedly I was made to feel like I didn’t know my place. The medical doctors I saw treated me like I was worthless and didn’t matter, but it was my psychiatrist who stood by me and repeatedly told me “this pain is not in your head” it was my psychiatrist who kept me sane when the medical doctors made me feel like a hypochondriac. But that should never have had to happen in the first place, It shouldn’t be my Psychs job to ensure I get good medical care because the medical ‘system’ doesn’t believe in treating psych patients with dignity.  And this brings me to my next blog, why the relationship you have with your doctor is so important