Doctor, I Really Need You to Listen to Me

Doctor, I Really Need You to Listen to Me

Through the Fog
There is nothing as frustrating as a doctor not taking your fibromyalgia concerns seriously. It just compounds our stress, which in turn increases our pain.

Perhaps a letter might enlighten doctors, turn up their empathy, and help them hear what we really have to say.

Here is what I would say in that letter:

Dear doctor,

I understand that you spent a lot of time in medical school. And you did a lot of on-the-job training as you went through residency. I get that it’s frustrating having to diagnose and treat an illness like fibromyalgia. Perhaps nothing in your training prepared you for patients like me. But as your patient, I wonder how much training you had in “bedside manner” and communicating with your patients.

A lot of my FMS symptoms bother me, and it would be really helpful if we could have a conversation about this, so that when I leave your office I feel you’ve actually listened and understood me. I get that your hands may be tied by insurance regulations, and being wooed by pharmaceutical companies. The thing is, I don’t just need medication. I need a listening ear. Are you up for that?

I’m a single mom with two young children who depend on me to provide for them. I need help figuring out how to get through my work day, and still be able to care for my little ones. I need ideas on how to work with my illness so I’m productive as I can be, without triggering flares and losing work days, and possibly my job.

I am more than my diagnosis. I’m a human being who wants to live life to the fullest, even though I have limitations. I understand you’re human, but I’d really appreciate your undivided attention when I take time out of my day to talk with you, to pick up new ideas as my health picture changes. Fibromyalgia is no fun. I’d like you to treated me as you would your wife or daughter if they were struggling with this awful disease.


Your frustrated patient

Don’t settle for less than a doctor who will take the time to listen, care, and help you on your journey. We all deserve that.


Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.


  1. Susan Parker says:

    Robin… Thank you for reminding me/us that we should expect much much more of our doctors than simply (just) a quick office visit to tell us that we’re not as (crazy) as we sometimes feel. But deep inside, we wonder if this isn’t really how the doctor’s really do feel about us. Even still I hear a lot of women say “my doctor doesn’t believe in FM and he thinks the pain is all in my head”. My first suggestion was to find a different doctor and don’t be afraid to interview them beforehand and ask them the hard questions, especially about their views on FM.

  2. Don says:

    Whoa Robin!
    You know I haved loved all your previous columns, and I have told you that on many oncassions, but this one I must totally disagree with. It sounds very condescending and I think the last thing someone would want to do is piss off (I could have written anger but stuck with my orginal thought) their doctor.
    Writing a doctor a note or a letter may be a good idea, but using this example letter would not be. If a letter written like this went to a doctor then the patient may as well go and do what they should have probably done in the first place – find a new doctor, one that will listen and understand.
    I think your intentions are good Robin, just that your example letter is not.
    Still love whay you do, keep up the good work!

  3. Anthonette says:

    Perfect. ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT. That’s EXACTLY how I feel. I’m a single mother as well. One child though, and he’s like 5 children in one, but is that to much to ask? Just to be able to live life as normally as we possibly can? Sigh….well done on this.

  4. Mark Koharchick, PhD, LPC, BCN Pain Medicine Psychotherapist, St. Agnes Hospital, Fond du Lac, WI says:

    Hi Robin,
    I can’t tell you how many FM pts. I see who feel like they were diagnosed, or “judged” as soon as the provider walked into the exam room. They complain about the same things as in your letter and even more. Most feel greatly insulted and find it difficult to return to a particular provider. To some of these pts., if they want to “open the eyes” of their providers, I ask them to watch the movie, “The Doctor”. Then I tell them to give a copy to their provider and ask them to please watch it. FM pts. seem to be the most criticized people in the medical community. But I will attest, they can be some of the most genuine, resilient and caring people I have ever met. And I feel honored in working with all of them.

  5. Rob Hemmings says:

    Hi Robin, I suffer both psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia, along with to a lesser extent rheumatoid in my knees and neck.My journey started 22years ago first with the psoriatic arthritis and then a couple of years later the fibromyalgia reared its ugly head. Whilst the arthritis was quickly diagnosed the fibromyalgia took longer. My consultant was great and fully supportive, the problem started with my GP who had no idea what fibromyalgia was and didn’t entirely belive me, it was frustrating to continually visit the GP for help and none was forthcoming, it caused depression and stress. It wasn’t until I visited a locum doctor who referred me to the pain clinic at my local hospital, it was amazing no extra drugs, but I was placed on a pain management course.I found myself with others with the same problem, I felt vindicated and that I was not going mad or swinging the lead. I learned to manage my life by pacing and planning my day.I now train patients in the same techniques I was taught. I have been training others for 10 years now and am always amazed at the difference in the people who join the groups. I now also work with health professionals in the way they work with patients who seek help. I still have problems but I don’t let it define who I am, I have made a friend of my conditions and instead of fighting with it I have learned to negotiate,plan and take each day at a time. I hope I haven’t been a bore and rattled on. All the very best. Rob

  6. Don says:

    That is awesome Rob! I would like to know more about your training. Is there anyway you could PLEASE advise me on it and perhaps provide some materials on it via email or download. Do you have a website?
    I so desperately need something. It is a battle every day. Even though I feel like I am doing about all I can, though the diet thing hasn’t actually kicked in yet, I am losing this fight.
    Thanks, Don

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