Bedside manner

It’s unusual for me to write an unplanned blog but today my fingers just needed to let loose on the keyboard to get out of my system the hate, hurt, anger and upset that’s  setting in. Even though I posted yesterday, I hope you don’t mind this unscheduled rant! It’s all too easy on social media to portray that life is peachy but sometimes we need to be honest because we can even trick ourselves into really believing the “I’m fine” business. Although that’s the path I’m happier to tread for the majority of the time, sometimes I find myself in a space that is so catastrophically not fine, that I can only be true to myself.

This blog is aimed at anyone in a job that holds any kind of human interaction whether that be face to face, via email or over the phone. It’s a blog to remind people that whoever you are interacting with, they are human. They have feelings. They may have their own problems that are hidden to you. I’m not particularly religious but at this moment in time, all I keep thinking is – treat others as you’d wish to be treated.

Earlier in the week I finally experienced my first decent phone-call with someone at the DWP. She didn’t talk to me as if I was a piece of dirt on her shoe, she didn’t judge me, she didn’t tut at me or make me hang up the phone and crumble into tears. At the end of the call I asked for her name and thanked her for allowing me to ask the questions I needed to without being made to feel belittled. Unfortunately, although she was pleased to be thanked, she said that it’s all too often she hears that from people and assured me that the position both she and her colleagues hold is not one of seniority, they are there to help and reassure people in order to ensure they get the help and benefits they need and are entitled to. How sad it’s taken four months for me to finally be treated this way.

And this leads me on to other experiences I faced this week. A letter arrived last weekend from the dermatology department, I’d had to reschedule an appointment in early January as it clashed with a neurology appointment but they had obviously overlooked that. Therefore this letter outlined the results of my skin biopsy and recent full blood tests. Luckily – well not really for me – most came back clear, but what if this hadn’t been the case? I would have found out via letter? And then I came to the last paragraph; a short, swift sentence saying they agreed with the diagnosis by my GP, that my ‘hair loss’ was linked to that and therefore they had referred me to a psychologist. I’m sorry, but had you forgotten that I am a human here? This is my life, my hair, my situation? And yet you are bluntly wiping your hands of me because, why? My case is complex and might take extra time and money? Why am I not worth that? But anyway, after another cry and feelings of deep sorrow and frustration, I dusted myself off, plastered on my “I’m fine” face and focussed on the fact I could discuss it on Thursday at my next appointment.

Fast forward to Thursday. It took a lot for me to get up to Kings for 9.30am yet ten o’clock rolls round and still we haven’t been called in so I approach the desk to enquire about how long the waiting time will be. It’s then that I am told the specialist I am due to see is on annual leave and the stand in Dr is not yet here and they can’t get hold of him. I’m sorry but, why were we not a) informed she was on leave prior to today or b) told when we arrived that this was the case? It doesn’t take a lot at the moment to make me cry because although I manage to keep it in most of the time, I feel like I’m constantly on the edge. So there I am walking back to my parents in a full waiting room, crying. All because my doctor isn’t there – stupid but it tipped me over the edge. Does no one actually care about me? I had a text the day before my appointment reminding me that a missed appointment costs the NHS £160 but hey, if a patient is stood up, never mind, come back another time right? No harm done!

To be fair, the receptionists were amazing and it really wasn’t their fault. After they did some calling around we were told the stand in Dr had been on nights and had apparently cancelled his day appointments but the message hadn’t got through. The next available appointment would be March. But at that point, eagle-eyed mum saw the senior dermatologist come in and asked the receptionist if she could see if he would see us. Long and short is, fair enough, he did. But I wish in many ways he hadn’t.

He is the lead specialist in the dermatology department so you would hope that his bedside manner was outstanding eh? I understand and give some leeway to the fact he wasn’t expecting to see me but that doesn’t excuse the next ten minutes in my eyes. He didn’t have any notes so was obviously working from memory from their meeting after the case conference but he proceeded to tell me that actually their diagnosis was that my hair loss was more than likely untreatable and incurable. Bang, just like that. I cried and he just commented, “no tissues – sorry, NHS.” No worries that I’ve just told a 30-year-old girl that her hair may never grow back, no biggie, you can cope with that.

After I gathered myself I managed to question him, I was angry and in all honestly did not trust what he was saying. In the letter I received, statements had been made about other things which he then did explain to some extent but also tried to wiggle out of. He also stated that dermatology don’t really know much about hair loss and alopecia, he shrugged his shoulders a lot and leant so far back on his wheely chair, at one point I cruelly wished he’d keep going so it toppled over. He was abrupt, insensitive and uncaring, I was so stunned and shocked and felt harmed by someone I didn’t really know. He did explain why the psychologist had been suggested, if I deal with any stress internally then my body may start to heal from the inside which in turn will help the outside – or something like that, I must admit I had started to zone out a little by this stage. I asked him why I had follicles that weren’t growing – he responded with, “pffff, we don’t really know.” Mum pushed him to say that his referral meant that there was still some hope to which he said yes, but in all honesty, by this point I didn’t believe much that was coming out of his mouth.

After that appointment I reacted in a way I hadn’t before. I didn’t want to talk, I didn’t want to be around anyone, I didn’t want to ‘be’ really. In that instance I felt I had no fight left, nothing, zilch, I felt done. I wanted to run away, not have to face any of it anymore, I felt like I had reached crisis point and all because of the way that a specialist of the NHS had spoken to and treated me.

He is going to refer me to a specific hair loss dermatologist at Guy’s which I will go to and I will attend the first psychologist appointment but after a restless night and thoughtful morning I have come to a conclusion. I do not need to be cured in terms of my hair. My lack of hair is not offensive contrary to some socially inept people, it doesn’t make me any less worthy of love or affection. Like I’ve said before, I miss my hair every single day and I hate the person that stares back at me just as much as the day I shaved my head. But the conclusion I’m coming to is that maybe that’s because I haven’t allowed myself to accept it because I’ve constantly been looking for a cure. I’ve seen my hair loss as something disgusting and something wrong with me. But actually, I don’t need to be cured. I don’t have hair. I’m HairlessHannah, baldblogger. This is me now and hair doesn’t define me, I don’t need a cure. It’s not disgusting, okay it’s not something we see often but it’s not harmful to me or to others. That thought is actually quite freeing, I’ve never considered it that way before.

The rest of what I’m going through DOES need a cure. I cannot live the rest of my life in pain, with constant fatigue, noise and light sensitivity,  in isolation, not driving, socialising, working, earning. I cannot live with pins and needles from the neck up for the rest of my life. All of that needs a cure. Not management, a cure. And if a cure for that is found then MAYBE my hair will grow but MAYBE it won’t. If the rest of it is cured, I will be able to wear hats and wigs if I so choose, I can wear make-up and jewellery. I can make myself feel more feminine again but my hair doesn’t need curing.

So, I will see this other guy, I will try out the psychologist incase it will help with my illness but apart from that, hair wise I’m done. I’m done with trying different treatments, herbal remedies, seeing different “specialists” because I simply don’t need their lack of bedside manner. I am taking back the control again. I don’t need their opinions. The only opinion needed in terms of my hair, is my own. So from now on, I am bald, I have alopecia and I am proud. My hair may grow back one day but it also may not and I need to start  accepting that. And as I cry whilst I type this, I know that this is the first step towards starting to love myself again which, as my dear friend told me during our reiki session this week, I need to be able to do that again because it’s actually more important than we realise. Hate in any form isn’t healthy so self hate can’t be doing me or my recovery any good.

As a teacher, no, as a HUMAN,  I always strive to treat every child, every parent, every person I come into contact with, with the utmost respect, care and kindness. I imagine how I would feel if I was receiving the news being delivered to me. I go out of my way to help people and to make sure they know how much I am investing in them. I know the NHS is under great strain at the moment but if the bedside manner isn’t there, that’s when patients start to lose faith. That’s when patients walk away from any potential help that could be available. That’s when the system fails us.

So regardless of your job, just remember that your job as a human is to treat people how you would want to be treated. Everyone is fighting something on a daily basis so be kind, be mindful and think before you speak.

Have a lovely weekend.

#hairlesshannah

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61 thoughts on “Bedside manner

  1. Victoria says:

    Great, honest blog Han!! I totally agree- sometimes I am shocked at how people treat ‘customers’ when I would do anything for any parent!! Running round at 3.10pm looking for lost/coats/ lunchboxes!! Here’s to improving customer service!!
    And what a positive outlook you have Amongst all the negativity! Go you!! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi babe

    It was as much as I could do to hold back the tears when reading your blog.

    There are clichés and clichés but:-

    Don’t let the bastards grind you down Systems stink when not properly managed. Challenge them

    and most of all…..keep your pecker up.

    Let the strong lady at mum’s birthday at the Langland Bras always show through

    You have so many people out there routing for you.

    Just think…..you could be related to Donald Trump

    LOL

    Profnoonan

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi babe

      It was as much as I could do to hold back the tears when reading your blog.

      There are clichés and clichés but:-

      Don’t let the bastards grind you down Systems stink when not properly managed. Challenge them

      and most of all…..keep your pecker up.

      Let the strong lady at mum’s birthday at the Langland Bras always show through

      You have so many people out there routing for you.

      Just think…..you could be related to Donald Trump

      LOL

      Profnoonan

      Like

  3. Oh Hannah, I feel or you so very much. I always hoped that all of humankind would treat others with care and kindness. Sometimes, unfortunately, the medical profession see patients as ‘cases’ and not people with feelings and emotions. You are strong and must remain so! Go Hannah!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jan, I think we all just have those blips where enough is enough and these last few days have definitely been big old blips! Thank goodness for love and kindness of our friends and family eh? Much love x

      Like

  4. Hi there! Your post made me really emotional- I’m very sorry to read about bad experience you had and illness you suffer from. Maybe you’ll think I’m hypocrite, because I read and write a lot about hair, but I just want to tell you something, that I truly believe. Your appearance doesn’t make you less feminine than any other woman. Feminity is something that we’ve got inside, it’s the way we move, speak, look and behave.
    And a little silly thing in the end: Do you know who did I think of? I thought about Cleopatra from HBO series Rome (google her). Her hair was super short, but she was so sensual, charming and sexy that her feminity was just undoubted. It’s about aura around us and the way we treat other people. I wish you all the best and fingers crossed:)

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Sadly, I can relate to this in so many ways. I have had people treat me in vulnerable situations both positively and negatively. Regardless of what they are going through, the harm that their actions and word can do can be far worse! I’m glad you were able to have at least that positive moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. catattack94 says:

    Sometimes we need to get on the keyboard and type away, honey! You are strong and can do this! Remember that! Venting is healthy and does the body good! If someone disagrees with your vent post, let it slide off and go on with your day 🙂
    People in Customer service can be crappy, I’ve dealt with it many times and I’m sorry to hear that you had to deal with a crappy time with them. Keep your chin up 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I know it was hard to put so much of your life down for us to read and for that I think you are especially brave. We all need to think about how we interact with people so that we not only do our jobs but inspire people to call us in the first place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. It’s funny because I don’t see it as brave, it’s my way of getting things off my chest and I sometimes
      Forget that people are actually going to read it!! So if it makes people think or do something good, then it’s worth me taking time to write down and be honest about my life, thank you so much for reading it x

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m a people person. I try to give the benefit of the doubt when I deal with people. I state the case or problem first and if I’m not satisfied with the results and don’t feel I’m being taken care of nicely I try to skip that person and go to the next. Otherwise I will loose my patience and the niceness leaves because your just sticking to the script instead of helping to resolve. I am sorry you had crappy week and hope the next week is better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that’s the way the majority of people are thank goodness. Sometimes
      It is hard to bit our lip or walk away but it’s so important to try! As they say, each day is a new start so I’m beginning to dust myself down and start again! Hope you’re having a nice weekend xx

      Like

  9. Susan Henesy says:

    Hannah, reading your blog leaves me feeling so powerless. We all want to solve the problems for our children and our loved ones and I can only begin to imagine the frustration of you, your Mum and your Dad. When Ewan suffered so badly with his M.E. I was at my wit’s end and found myself often hammering metaphorically against the closed doors of the NHS labyrinth. What can be said? There will eventually be someone out there who can understand and help. You and the Green clan are strong and good and one day will receive your just desserts. I can do nothing but send my love to you all and help to absorb some of your despair and frustration. XXXXX

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I pressed enter too quickly! We all have our battles but I’m just so lucky to have the friends, family and support I do to help me get through every day.
    Thank you for sending your strength too xx lots of love xxzx

    Like

  11. I strongly believe in the golden rule – do not do unto others what you do not want them to do unto you, that’s why I always always try to be the best version of me with all my interactions with others.

    I know how you feel and it’s sad though that a lot of people are not like that. I often see it at work and in other places. If people could just be a little nicer & more compassionate, the world would be a happier place to live in.

    Continue to be the strong girl that you are. I am rooting for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I always hear all these horror stories about the NHS which is surprising to me as I’ve never had a problem with any of the NHS doctors I’ve seen. I’m guessing that specialist doctors are very focussed on studying their specialty and don’t refine their interpersonal skills.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Briar Blake says:

    Dear Hannah, what an absolute bugger of a week you’ve had.  I can only hope that it helped in some small way to get if off your chest via your blog.   Maybe that insensitive dermatologist has in some roundabout way helped you.  It sounds as if you are coming to accept your hair loss in a different way that could free you up from the agonizing you have been going through.  Of course, it is not right at all that you should be spoken to in this way.  I can only imagine that in recent years, developing a bedside manner has come way down the list in a doctor’s training.  At one time, years ago, it was all they had!   But it is strange how an often “bad” experience can lead to growth of some sort, which turns it into a positive experience after all. Guess you could try feeling sorry for the bloke for being so inadequate at his job rather than giving him the power to hurt you.  He won’t have singled you out for this indifferent and careless treatment.  He must be like it with everyone – sad, isn’t it.  If you had the energy it might be an idea to fire off your blog to the department concerned and an NHS training department somewhere or other – it would make a very useful point and could form the basis of a roleplay in their training) – it might fall mostly on deaf ears, but it will strike a chord with someone I’m sure, and you will feel you have asserted yourself which is healthy for you and which may help others in the future. I keep a little book of quotes that I have picked up over the years.  Here are a few (some banal) that could strike a chord with your situation: concentrate on hopes, not fears maximum growth occurs at the border of order and chaos (but maybe not your hair just yet!) he who laughs  – lasts! remember the tide turns at low water as well as at high starve the problems (the dermatologist)  – feed the opportunities (everyone and everything that helps you) success is not final; failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts Sorry to ramble on.  But hope this finds you feeling a bit better about everything. Love from Briar. Hug for Mum xxx

    From: “Bald blogger, Hairless Hannah” To: briar13@sky.com Sent: Saturday, 21 January 2017, 10:35 Subject: [New post] Bedside manner #yiv9631950504 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv9631950504 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv9631950504 a.yiv9631950504primaryactionlink:link, #yiv9631950504 a.yiv9631950504primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv9631950504 a.yiv9631950504primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv9631950504 a.yiv9631950504primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv9631950504 WordPress.com | baldblogging posted: “It’s unusual for me to write an unplanned blog but today my fingers just needed to let loose on the keyboard to get out of my system the hate, hurt, anger and upset that’s  setting in. Even though I posted yesterday, I hope you don’t mind this unscheduled” | |

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Briar. What a special comment on my
      Blog. Yes writing it did help but finding myself in this situation is one that will take some adjusting but that’s ok when I have everyone around me being so supportive and wonderful. I love a quote too so these are gratefully received. I hope you are well and thank you for your continued kind words and support xxx

      Like

    • You’d think so wouldn’t you? I think they do care but the NHS is under so much strain and I know that doesn’t excuse it but I have some understanding. I’m still holding a grudge but I will move on!

      Like

  14. This post resonated with me in a different way. When I was 18 years old, I had a miscarriage. I had been very excited to be pregnant and very excited about the coming baby. I had already bought a few things, and though it was early, I had already told everyone I knew. I had been reading books about pregnancy and fetal development. When I started bleeding, I had been thrilled to learn that my baby had just developed ears, and would likely reach a point soon where it would be able to hear things going on outside the uterus. I had been looking at music to play for it, and had looked at giant headphones meant to fit on a pregnant belly.

    In the emergency room, the gynecologist looked at me with complete lack of sincerity as he informed me that “some pregnancies just aren’t viable” and “some babies just aren’t meant to be.” I was alone, my husband was at work. And I cried my heart out, staring in disbelief at this cold man as he spoke to me in clinical terms and didn’t once reach out to heal the emotional wound. When I asked him if he was really that unfeeling, he wrapped up his time with me very quickly, left the room, and sent me a woefully inadequate grief counselor.

    I’m glad you’re embracing the alopecia, though I’ll agree that you should still seek treatment for the other issues. Still, baldness doesn’t change your worth as a person, Hannah – hair, or the lack of it, doesn’t make you less of a woman. And you’re still beautiful to those who love you, just in a different way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh I’m so terribly sorry to hear of such a horrendous experience in so many ways lovely. It’s just so unfair and cruel and makes such a heartbreaking situation even harder, you just need someone to take your hand and speak to you as a person, as a grieving mum-regardless of
      Anything that’s what you are to that baby. Thank you for you kind words xxx sending so much love and cuddles x

      Like

      • Same to you. You think when you go to a doctor, you do it as a person seeking compassionate support from an expert. It stings when the compassion side of it is lacking. I hope you’re able to find a connection again when your regular doctor comes back, and that there’s help for what’s causing all your medical issues.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Woooo I might have gone off the deep end in the doctor’s office but, that would have been the wall and final straw for me too. It took my doctor three months to get back to me on the results of some tests I had run last year. End result is for me to get a hysterectomy. It was supposed to have been 4 January…. I called a bit before and they had done nothing the last two and a half months to get everything done on their side. Needless to say, it is now scheduled for 27 March. I hit the wall when I called and they made it seem like they were doing me a favor ~ really? WTF.
    I believe in “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”; is it so hard to treat people as a person? with respect? with compassion?
    You have a beautiful soul that shines through everything. There are siblings that go to my kids’ elementary school who have had some medical dealings in the past and are not able to grow hair. The little girl, Jackie, and her bigger brother have never even been picked on nor treated differently. I love that and gives me hope.

    Like

    • How sad that there are so many sad stories relating to treatment of patients who need compassion and love. It really does make me sad. I truly hope you’re okay xx thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my blog and send me hope. I’m so glad those lovely children haven’t been treated any differently…how o wish adults would learn from children in how to accept people for who they are without judgement x

      Like

  16. I am really sorry to hear all those bad experiences, in every place there is bad and good person, that is why I think all the time that if i have to deal with bad person I should be positive take a good breath , this how this word is made and I like your courage, I told you in last comment your courage is contagious 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. We live in a world full of hate, incompetence, and the majority of people only care about one thing and that’s themselves. I’ve learned to stop allowing them get me upset because when they do, “they win”.

    It’s not easy at first, but over time, killing people with kindness becomes second nature. Most people don’t know how to react. I try to set an example of the way I want to be treated and if someone treats me like crap in return, that’s on them. I know it’s not easy, especially when you aren’t feeling 100%.

    There was absolutely no reason for your Dr. appointment to have gone the way it did. They should have told you when you originally scheduled the appointment that your regular doctor wouldn’t be in that week. Another thing, WE pay the doctors (a lot of money!), they work for US and they ALWAYS seem to be notoriously late. However, if you or I were to walk in late, we would miss our appointment or be charged some sort of stupid fee.

    Hang in there girly, you’re a tough cookie and you are so inspiring to a lot of people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally agree…killing with kindness is the best way but my goodness hat is hard sometimes! I’m sure the indents in my palm from digging in my fingernails gets bigger by the day!
      Luckily there are more kind people than not and if we spread that then that can only be a good thing…like this little community we’ve got going on here! Thanks for another lovely message xx

      Like

    • Thanks Ashlea, me too but I guess, as they say, everything happens for a reason and I have learnt something from the experience. Doesn’t make it right in any way but I need to dust myself off now x

      Like

  18. I’m so glad you had an outlet to get this off your chest though! I know how these type of situations can eat you up inside if you don’t get to vent about it. A few years ago, I suffered through a stillbirth, miscarriage and the death of my dad within 9 months of each other and the amount of insensitive things healthcare professionals and people working in funeral services was seriously astounding! Unfortunately they don’t teach ‘how to be human’ classes in med school obviously. I find it best to vent about it once, then forget it every happened and come to the conclusion that I myself treat everybody with respect and some people just don’t realise what they’re saying.
    You’re a beautiful woman and used your words so eloquently to describe what you were feeling about this, I totally respect that and hope you have a better week ahead of you ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kirstin I am so sorry to hear of all the pain and suffering you experienced, I hope somewhere amongst all the insensitive ramblings there were some kind words and love and support. I agree that it’s good to vent and move on, this little blogging community is such a good place to help with that! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment and I hope you have a lovely week ahead of you too x

      Like

  19. Hey Hannah,

    This story resonated with me a lot- thanks for sharing it- and I’m so glad I stumbled across your blog! I know how aggravating it is when someone in a position of care and expertise belittles hair loss, and how the experience can literally silence you, but I am so impressed by your resilience. I cannot believe how callous he was in the way he treated you, it was absolutely unacceptable.

    The bit that really made me think was when you said:
    ‘…maybe that’s because I haven’t allowed myself to accept it because I’ve constantly been looking for a cure. I’ve seen my hair loss as something disgusting and something wrong with me. But actually, I don’t need to be cured. I don’t have hair. I’m HairlessHannah, baldblogger. This is me now and hair doesn’t define me, I don’t need a cure. It’s not disgusting, okay it’s not something we see often but it’s not harmful to me or to others. That thought is actually quite freeing, I’ve never considered it that way before.’
    And you’re so right, I’ve never thought about mine that way either. Instead, and I’m sure you’ve done this too, I’ve just spent endless hours trying to find better ways to cover up the bare patches, searching for medication that might help, even looking at fake 3-months-to-glorious-locks type adverts, when the problem isn’t my hair, it’s my perspective.

    I’m still trying to hold onto my hair because shaving it off like you have still fills me with dread, and I am lucky to have enough to conceal it for now (but also have a lot of work to do on my self-confidence). I have *so much* respect for you for sharing your worse days as well as your good days, and for having the confidence in yourself to be open about being bald, even though it’s unbelievably difficult. You are stunning, never forget that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow. What a special comment to receive, thank you so much. This whole experience is a learning curve for me, by being open and honest I’d always hoped to reach people possibly in a similar situation and help them just by letting them know they aren’t alone. I know I find comfort in reading other people’s stories. Thank you for taking time to read my blog and being so kind xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t know how I was expecting to feel, but reading your reply has given me goosebumps and my stomach’s doing somersaults. I’m completely new to this all but I can tell that this is going to a be a positive step for me, hopefully as much as it already has been for you, and I’m learning a lot from reading your blog. We’re in the same boat for very different reasons, as I’ve now realised, but I really hope the pain you’re in becomes more manageable- I have no idea how you cope. Keep in touch xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • I look forward to reading your blogs, you’ll learn what you’re happy to share, it took me a while but it’s been so therapeutic for me, I try and forget people will read it and do it for myself as a way of getting my feelings, emotions and frustrations out as well as the positive sides. Definitely stay in touch…I’ll try and see if your on insta etc too x

        Liked by 1 person

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