In search of a diagnosis: Provider burnout

The last three years, mired in a pandemic, left the healthcare system in a chaotic state of being. I’ve seen it up close as I’m in the healthcare field. I’ve seen the mass exodus of staff, especially clinical staff. It’s been a brutal slog to address the workforce shortage. This is in part due to there being massive provider burnout. I’m sure you have heard and read about the high levels of burnout in the field. This makes it so that it becomes, at times, a long wait to get an appointment.

Now, I’m going to talk about provider burnout as a patient.

Ever since mid-January, I’ve had chronic pain. It’s now mid-March and no diagnosis as of yet. I started off with x-rays, then blood work, then urinalysis, then ct scan, then ultrasound and then …. I started off with a nephrologist, then urologist, then a primary care provider, then an endocrinologist, then an ob/gyn, and next a gastroenterologist. Whew!

This is my provider burnout story. I feel like a hot potato being tossed from one provider to another. I’m a football being punted down the field. And, none really wants to prescribe pain medication as they each feel the other should.

Now, I have gotten some superb caring providers who really want to help figure this out. And, I’ve had some who seem to have empathy fatigue. Sigh.

I see the chaos from both sides. However, my own empathy and burnout are in flux. None of this is easy. Yet, I got to keep going. I want to feel better. But, I can see how some people become jaded and disconnected from their healthcare.

17 replies »

  1. As pain is subjective, as you probably know and understand, a decent measuring tool like the McGill Pain Questionnaires (Long and Short) would assist the professionals understanding how intense personally to yourself. Not sure what assessment procedures you have taken. Fibromyalgia is difficult to get at. Erupting in many parts of the body. And in different descriptive ways. Pinpointing the source of pain could be helped by the descriptors in the McGill questionnaire with someone expert in analysing it. Hope you find answers. Sounds awful. All the best.


  2. You have gobs of RESULTS from all those tests; maybe some possibilities can be eliminated? Do we yet have AI expert systems you can ask? I’ve always understood that it is one of the uses which is actually better than doctors because it doesn’t come with prejudices. As someone IN the healthcare system, do you have access we ordinary patients don’t?

    Sorry you’re going through this at such a tough time.


    • I did get access to a great endicronologist, but even being in the healthcare industry, it takes a lot of effort. But i recognize my privilege in being able to try to push through. It’s tough out there.


  3. This was an issue since before the pandemic. My spouse suffered from an incredibly painful autoimmune disease for 10+ years, being misdiagnosed with everything from a dislocated rib to irritable bowel syndrome in the interim. A few years ago they finally figured it out and, after a battle with the insurance company to get them to pay for the very expensive treatment, it’s finally under control. It seems that, at some point in the last two decades, doctors have been in a rush to get you out of their office and just diagnose you with the first thing that comes to mind – writing you a prescription before kicking you out the door. When you don’t get better, they go to the next thing that pops into their head and write you anpther prescription. And so on.


  4. Mimi,
    The health scare-snare racket itself is sick. I’ve seen it from both sides and quit being a drug pusher for the state as soon as I paid off medical school debt.

    But I feel old and fatigued by the run-around. Where is the joy in today’s world?

    Loved ones, children and pets can provide it, presumably, and these can be healing.

    You have suffered a major loss this year. I suspect that your undiagnosable pain is your body’s response to your grief.

    The spring equinox March 21 symbolizes new beginnings, rebirth, and vitality, literally a new year in our sun-centered system.

    May it bring rejuvenation to you.


  5. Invisible Illnesses That Others Cannot Readily See

    That Medical Science Has A Most Difficult Practice of

    Measuring Empirically Will Surely Be Conundrums of

    Life As i Surely Remember The

    Two Years of Even Getting

    Diagnosed With A Worst Pain Known to

    Humankind Type Two Trigeminal Neuralgia

    And Dysautonomia And So Many Other Issues Stress

    Related As i Still Presented Physically As an Above
    Average Specimen

    For Male Health
    Then at Age 47 True

    Yet How Do You Measure

    Not Remembering A Feeling of A Smile

    Ever What Kind of Pill Will Bring Back the

    Warmth of A Pet of A Cat True A Dead Soul

    Is Not Easily Empirically Measured Through Medical

    Science or How Powerful A Placebo May Heal or How

    Much Stress May Create Disorder Disease and Literal Eventual

    Premature Death of Course With the Nocebo impact of Negative

    Beliefs About Life too Dear Miriam i Can’t Imagine Fully What You

    Are going Through

    And Of Course Back

    in Hell Just Looking

    At me Folks Basically Said

    Pull Up Your Boot Straps Folks

    Have it Worse Than You Even After

    The Medical Diagnosis of the Worst Pain

    Known to Humankind the ‘Suicide Disease’ Finally

    Came in Well After The Rheumatologist Gave Up on

    What Could Help me and the Other Doctors Offered

    No Prognosis For Recovery Either The Answers

    Would Only Be Found By Searching Within

    And Bringing A Dance And Song of My

    Soul Back to Life For Real However

    i Have Great Respect for the

    Medical Field as They Have

    Helped me in Many

    Other Ways And

    i no Longer Fear Doctors

    Like i Did For 26 Years Before

    Hell Came at Age 47 Full Blown

    Medicine is A Practice And An Art

    And So Is Humanity There is Pain that Will

    Never Be Fully Empirically Measured That Others

    Will Ever Relate too Same As Bliss Beyond All Imagination

    For Those Who Have Yet to Wear Those Wings oF LiGHT True

    Been to Both

    Sides of the

    Coin There is

    Room For Both
    The DarK And LiGHT

    To Potentially Find Balance

    That Lasts And in Practice

    Continues to Heal

    However That

    May Be

    Beyond All Lessons
    And Answers Given
    Others Provide For Real…

    iNDeeD LooKinG WiTHIN Yes

    Innate Instinctual And Intuitive

    RiSinG Waves of Soul Do Bring

    Your Description Sounds Almost
    Like What my Wife Has Been Going
    Through the Last Year Now She’s Two
    Years Older Than You in Mid-Life too

    As Measured By Chinese New Years For Fellow ‘Rats’…

    Yet Like The Folks Working For the Military Dealing With
    Similar Extreme Stress Like i Did They Related Stress Will Do

    The Whackiest

    Things to You

    That You Never

    Imagined Before Possible

    Oh Dear Lord Their Forecasts
    For the Unknowns Came True…

    Without The Extreme Negative Stress my Health Excels

    Before And After Hell For Real Environment Counts So Much…

    And As Far As Burnout Goes on the Autism Spectrum i Was A Canary

    in A Coal Mine Just Waiting to Test the Coal Mine of Modernity Now

    Lots of Folks Of Every Age Are Burning Out Now Humans Have Limits…

    Go Figure…

    We Aren’t
    Machines or
    Only CLocks
    That Go ‘Tik Tok’….

    Oh Dear Lord to Return
    to Nature Naked Enough
    Whole Complete The (Eden, Etc)
    ‘Green Acres’ For me With SMiLes…

    A Free Place
    of Dance
    And Song With Wings..:)


  6. Sometimes you have to get feisty with your provider. They tend to take the easy way out and this is doubly so when they are fatigued, overloaded, and stressed.

    My HMO says it treats medical issues conservatively. I interpret that to mean that unless there’s an easily treated medical issue or a life threatening crisis, they do as little as possible. You’re in pain? Take Tylenol. You’re in really bad pain? Try Advil. Still in pain? Let’s set you up with physical therapy – instead of orthopedics. I’ve watched it evolve over the years – decades actually – and my “not-for-profit” has become entirely focused on the bottom line. My regular doctor has grown disinterested and abrupt.

    And then COVID turned a perennial staffing shortage into an unending crisis with older doctors and nurses retiring right and left. My wife was one of them.

    It is what it is and it is still better medical care than most of the world gets.


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