Why patients with irritable bowel syndrome are angry at their doctors

By Sophie Lee January 10, 2010

I’ve had irritable bowel syndrome for 20 years, and I’m angry. About the pain, and the suffering, and the limited diet, and the huge impact that it has had on my life. But mostly, I’m angry at my doctors. No, they didn’t misdiagnose me. No, they didn’t harm me. No, they didn’t treat me like dirt. But they still made me angry.

Before we go any further, let’s get one thing straight: I know that IBS is difficult to treat. Try to help an IBS sufferer and you are presented with an unholy mess of anti-diarrheals, laxatives, fiber supplements and anti-spasmodics, and that’s before we even start arguing about which diets might be useful. So I don’t expect my doctor to cure me. I don’t expect a miracle.

I know that IBS patients are “heart sink” patients; that doctors dislike our visits because we’re so tough to help. I understand that it must be horrible to have patients who you don’t know how to cure, who are begging for relief you can’t provide. It’s not the physical treatment of my IBS that has made me angry. It’s the way that I have been treated as a person.

I have [...] continue the story