New-to-Me doctors are an interesting bunch: They either discount everything I say and treat me like any other typical patient (never a good idea) or they are so determined to peg me into some kind of category that they miss things. That is never good either.

So it was with a leery mind that I followed my PCPs recommendation to follow up with an allergist after things took a left turn for me earlier this year. That horrible blood draw a couple of weeks ago was on account of this new Allergist. Today was the follow up so that she could give me the results.

From our first meeting, she side-eyed me telling her about my Celiac diagnosis. For the record, it was my PCP (a doctor with Caribbean background) who diagnosed me back in 2009, after two+ years of my stats being awful and me being sick all the dang time. At the time, I didn’t know to ask my PCP to do certain tests to fully confirm the diagnosis of Celiac. I just followed his recommendation that I stop eating wheat, rye, barley (then subsequently oats) because I was in such bad shape I didn’t have much to lose. It took time but my stats began to rebound and I started feeling and looking better – so there was truth in his diagnosis to me. My turn around was proof of this.

So, in an effort to prove me wrong (that was how it seemed to me), this Allergist requested that I do a few different blood panels. One of which was to test me for the Celiac marker, of which I assume she was “sure” I didn’t have. Imagine her whole surprise when she discovered that I do in fact carry one of the two markers for Celiac.

Now for those who are not clear about why this is such a big deal/issue, Celiac is predominately a disease found in those with Caucasian ancestry. I am decidedly not Caucasian. Neither one of my parents are Caucasian either. But somewhere in my lineage there had to be some Caucasians, cause here I am with this predominately Caucasian disease. This Allergist did not want to accept what my PCP had come to diagnose me with and she did not want to take my word for it. The tests she requested though, told her otherwise, yet she STILL tap danced around the results, citing that just because I have the marker, doesn’t mean I have the disease, even after I presented her with my list of ailments which line up perfectly with someone who has Celiac, even if they are Black.

And things get much worse from there…
I have a secondary situation that she is choosing to ignore for six months (I on the other hand am not going to wait six days even to see about finding an actual specialist who can check into this for me) because my results don’t correspond with her book learning. If there is one thing I know about my conditions, is that they often don’t correspond to ANYONE’S book learning. I found it more than a little alarming that she didn’t refer me to another specialist or that she didn’t follow up with more blood work. As an Allergist and an Immunologist, she should have. Something in me knew this, yet I was too much into my feelings of worry about Me/what this could mean, to call her out on it. I kept asking questions and she essentially gave me answers that were equivalent to a shoulder shrug, aka “I don’t get paid enough by your insurance to really give a f$#k“. Instead, she suggested that my abnormal levels were due to possibly being HIV+. Yes, you read that correctly. Instead of her asking my sexual/possible drug use history, she ASSUMED that it was because of HIV. Not that it could be because of a possible auto-immune condition or something else going on; she went straight for stereo-typical “Black” people issues.

My face changed when she went there and I let her know in no uncertain terms that I did not fit in that demographic, at which point she essentially had nothing more she wanted to say to me.

This is how Black people die early. This is how things get pushed aside until it’s too late. My life and well being wasn’t important enough to her to warrant any further testing or referral to another specialist. I was just an anomaly that she did not want deal with. During the whole of this appointment, I felt like I was having to defend myself, while also having to receive the news of some of what is currently ailing me. I left with more questions than answers.

That appointment was filled with micro-aggressions to my person, to my diagnoses, to my heritage, to my symptoms, to my humanity. I’ve spent a good deal of my life in the hands of medical staff, this has been the first time I’ve encountered anything like this… I was/am caught off guard and getting pissed by the minute because my secondary issue still has not been addressed (for which I originally went) and I am having to begin that journey to get it resolved or at least explained with no more new information than when this first started.

I am beside myself at this point.

And I won’t/can’t spend any more time on blasting her because I need to find out what’s going on with Me…

#RacismInMedicine #CeliacStuff #CeliacWhileBlack