In nearly every how-to CFS book you will find the following instructions (or something like them): "Be sure to bring relevant medical test results, a written list of symptoms, and a list of your medications, including dosages, to your doctor's appointment. This will help him or her assess your individual case."
Last week, I did exactly that. I took copies of all my lab work, a nicely organized list of symptoms, as well as a list of all my medications (including supplements) to my first visit. The physician looked at what I had given him, leaned back and said, “Are you sure this isn't just psychological?”
Normally, I have a quip for that kind of response. Something along the lines of, “No, it isn't, and I can't bend forks with my mind, either.” But, this time, I realized I had only myself to blame.
I had forgotten the most important item to bring to a doctor's appointment: A man.
In the past, when I had more frequent medical appointments than I do now, I always had a man with me. When I first fell ill, my husband accompanied me. During my relapse, I had a companion – with a beard. That beard guaranteed me better treatment, as well as insulation from various demeaning comments.
Some people believe that any type of companion will help ease a visit to the doctor. However, in my experience, having a woman accompany me often did more harm than good. And on the one occasion in which I was the companion for a friend seeing a neurologist, the doctor merely looked at us as if we were both crazy.
Does this mean that male patients with CFS/ME should bring a male companion? Absolutely. Many men with CFS/ME have been treated as if they were hypochondriacs by their doctors, which means even if you are a man with this illness, you need to bring another man with you. Your wife will not do the trick. When doctors see wives (or mothers), they assume that the woman is being “overprotective,” or perhaps is even “enabling” the patient.
It is undeniable that male doctors who have a male audience perform better. Sadly, this is true for female doctors as well. Even if the consultation is unproductive, having a man with you will reduce the greatest source of stress for people with CFS/ME - office visits.