Mea Culpa

I have an apology to make. I muted someone on Twitter based on a gut reaction and an assumption.. I didn’t want to get into a Twitter conflict, and I have been trolled before by people looking to get me to give medical advice, so I hit mute and went about my day.

But now I believe she may have really been looking for help. If that’s the case, I am sorry.


Going back to her latest reply in our discussion, the woman asked me if I knew anything about gluten sensitivity. I have a relative who was recently diagnosed with full-blown Celiac, and my gastroenterologist wanted me tested just to make sure certain symptoms I was having weren’t that. So, I told her about my relative and that she should see a gastroenterologist in her area. She responded that GIs don’t treat autoimmune diseases.

I was, to borrow a phrase from the UK, gobsmacked.

For 26 years, my mother had seen a GI to treat her Crohn’s Disease. People also see GIs for ulcerative colitis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, autoimmune gastrointestinal dysmotility, Celiac, and sometimes hepatitis and pancreatitis. I am sure I am missing others.

My jaded brain immediately jumped to the possibility that this woman was someone who, along the lines of the current crop of anti-vaxxers, just didn’t accept how medical science worked. I preferred not to tangle with someone I felt was so wrongheaded, so I muted her on Twitter and moved on.

Now, checking my Twitter account for the first time in a week, I saw that she left one more DM, and then blocked me, totally understandable considering the tone of my last message. Turns out she had seen a GI. And that genius had told her that he didn’t treat autoimmune diseases.

Gobsmacked again.

Well, good for him, but that’s not an approach I have seen from any other GI I have met, and I have met several, between my mother’s conditions and mine.

Now I’m in this situation where I can’t apologize to her. Understandable in the current social climate, I think, but the wrong approach nevertheless. I should have been more patient and less suspicious.

If I could talk to her again, I would tell her how ridiculous it was that a GI would say that he doesn’t treat autoimmune conditions. Many subspecialties of internal medicine – endocrinologists, nephrologists, all those -ologists we need to keep ourselves running – are there to help treat autoimmune conditions. Sure, they treat the acute stuff, too, but by definition, acute stuff goes away. We are the ones who have to keep coming back. A GI who doesn’t treat autoimmune diseases must have a very different kind of practice than any other I have seen. I get if he doesn’t treat Celiac specifically, or other gluten sensitivities, but to rule out all autoimmune conditions is unheard of, at least in the healthcare universe I live in.

Maybe he treats chronic non-autoimmune conditions?

I would also say to this woman who I suspect was just looking for help, keep looking. We’ve said it here before – finding a provider that fits you is something that can take time and effort. Like dating, you are looking for a long-term relationship with someone who listens to you, treats you like a partner, and has the same values and goals that you have. If it doesn’t work out with the first one, dump them and go to the second one. Or the third, or the seventh. It’s important that you have a good relationship with the provider who treats your conditions. If you don’t, it could kill you.

So, to the woman on Twitter, I’m sorry. For the assumption. For not listening as I should have. I hope you find what you need to stabilize and treat your condition.