Jane Bates: Painful predicament of the worried well

Jane Bates ponders if it’s worse to be labelled ‘worried well’ or miss a diagnosis so as not to ‘bother the doctor’

Jane Bates ponders if it’s worse to be labelled ‘worried well’ or miss a diagnosis so as not to ‘bother the doctor’

Picture: iStock

A Baker’s cyst. That’s what I’ve got. Isn’t it nice to have a diagnosis, even if it is via Dr Google?

A Baker’s cyst is a painful swelling behind the knee, for those who don’t know – I didn’t until I tried to put on my jeans and my leg got stuck. Setting modesty aside for a moment, as I once came third in a Victoria sponge competition, a Baker’s cyst seems rather apt.

So should I go to the doctor? One website says yes, another says it’s unnecessary.

Dilemma of the damned

I am more aware of this dilemma than usual because of recent newspaper reports. One day, a national rag told us that serious health conditions are being missed because people don’t want to ‘bother the doctor’ in these times of GP shortages.

The next day, the same publication stated that the concerns and perseverance of the so-called ‘worried well’, with all the unnecessary tests and medical time they demand, is costing the health service a small fortune.

What is Joe Public supposed to do? You can’t do right for doing wrong. To be labelled ‘worried well’ makes you feel neurotic, a needy narcissist.

Just a feckless fool

But ignore what could be serious signs and symptoms because you don’t want to make a fuss and you are made to feel irresponsible and rather silly – a feckless fool.

It’s shame on one side and shame on the other, and your medical problem still isn’t resolved.

Those in their ivory tower of experience and expertise sometimes forget how hard it is for patients to make a reasonable judgement call. And Dr Google doesn’t issue sick notes.

He does say, however, that I should be resting my swollen knee, and that’s good enough advice for me. I’m off to put my feet up.

Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire



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