An Open Letter To Dr. Drew Pinsky

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On April 24, 2014, a man called into Dr. Drew’s radio show “Love Line” regarding his fiancé who suffers with a number of medical ailments that are causing a lot of pain. The transcript is as follows:

Caller: My fiancé has a multitude of diagnoses. She has IC, Endometriosis, lactose intolerance. She has no stomach lining. I mean, a bunch of things going on.
Mike: No stomach lining? Is that real, Drew? Can that happen?
Dr. Drew: No. And by the way, IC is, I assume, interstitial cystitis?
Caller: Yes
Dr. Drew: These are all, these are all sort of what we call functional disorders. Everything you mentioned, everything you mentioned, are things that actually aren’t discernibly pathological. They’re, they’re just sort of what we call “garbage bag” diagnoses. When you can’t think of anything else, you just go, “Eh it’s that.” So it then makes me question why is she so somatically preoccupied that she’s visiting doctors all the time with pain and urinary symptoms and health symptoms and all this stuff. And that makes me wonder was she sexually abused growing up.
Caller: Well she..and it’s funny you say that. She actually almost refused to go to a doctor until I begged her to because she was in so much pain. In the 3 years we’ve been together, she’s only seen a doctor maybe twice.
Dr. Drew: And she has 4 different diagnoses in 2 visits? Pretty hard to get that.
Caller: Well, a lot of them happened before she and I were together, but yes she was-
Dr. Drew: She went to see lots of doctors before you.
Caller: She-
Dr. Drew: Trust me, she saw lots of doctors before you were together to get those diagnoses. Was she sexually abused growing up?
Caller: Yes. Not growing up, no-
Dr. Drew: Okay, magically, magically, wait, hold on! Wait a minute!
Emily: That took, like, 16 minutes to say yes.
Dr. Drew: When people have unexplained pain, particularly pelvic pain, it’s called somatoform dissociation, and the only way her body, which was suffering during those early experiences can tell its tale of woe is with pain. And she really needs to see a trauma specialist not a urologist. You know what I’m saying?
Caller: Okay.
Dr. Drew: So really work on that. It’s a real thing.

This whole conversation took less than three minutes. In those three minutes, Dr. Drew Pinskey managed to plant the seeds of doubt in the mind of this woman’s fiancé about her mental state, mock that woman’s suffering, cite inaccurate medical advice, and laugh about her former sexual abuse. 

As a woman who suffers with Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, Interstitial Cystitis, Hashimoto’s disease, and Polycysitc Ovarian Syndrome, I have dealt with my fair share of medical professionals who refuse to believe my diagnoses, treat me like a mental case, ignore my pain, and downplay my experiences. The difference between all of them and Dr. Drew is that Dr. Drew has made a career out of educating the masses on medical issues through a nationally syndicated radio show and several reality TV shows. His ignorance, sadly, is reaching much farther than the exam room.

In response to his actions, I am writing an open letter to Dr. Drew Pinsky asking him to reassess his position, further educate himself, and make amends through the medium of his radio show.

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Dr. Drew,

I have Endometriosis. It was diagnosed with laparoscopic surgery in 2002. Endometriosis had put me in such severe pain that I couldn’t work anymore. This was not a choice, I couldn’t sit or stand for hours at a time to do my job. I have never been abused. I have never had a sexual encounter that I did not want, in fact. I also suffer with IC, Hashimoto’s disease, and (finally diagnosed) Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. These are not “garbage bag diagnoses”, as you so eloquently put it. Each diagnosis took time, effort, and often surgery to come to.

Dr. Drew, you have put yourself in a very influential position. Unfortunately, your word is golden with many, and possibly with the man who called in regarding his fiancé. Now, I’m not saying she doesn’t need some form of therapy. My mother is a therapist, I grew up with an expert in the field of abuse and treatment, and I think any person having been abused could benefit from therapy, however, allow me to point out a few things to you:

First, the gentleman that called in never did ask a question. Before he was able to ask a question you had already “diagnosed” his fiancé with a psychological problem. That is a shame.

Second, my husband has been my rock. While doctors much like you shuffled off my pain, told me I was in need of therapy, or that it was in my head, my husband stood up for me and defended my need for some relief and treatment. They listened to him when they wouldn’t listen to me. That is in large part because doctors like you assume, whether you are aware of this or not, that women are hysterics; that we are emotional, and that we are “making up” our pain. I don’t need extra attention. I have a wonderful family, a devoted husband, and a good deal of self esteem. I needed a doctor that could help me understand and treat my pain. It took over ten years to find one. Endometriosis could have been diagnosed when I was a child, a mere 12 year old, but doctors like you ignored me, argued with me, sloughed off my pain (and their responsibility to their patient) and as a result I lost years of my life to this disease. If my husband had called into your show, presumably because he had faith in your medical opinion, and had the same experience you delivered to that man, I wonder how my rock would have changed. Maybe he would have believed that it was in my head, or that it was a “garbage bag diagnosis”. I can assure you that they weren’t guessing about the cause of my pain when my surgeon had to remove endometrial lining that had fused my bladder to my uterus.

Third, you laughed at this woman’s pain. You actually laughed. You had the people in the radio station chuckling at how quickly you had diagnosed her phantom pain. How can you, a medical professional, mock a woman for her pain and her abuse? Do you know how much damage that did to other victims of sexual abuse? Do you know how much damage that did to other people living with Endometriosis?

Lastly, your opinion goes far. You’ve ensured that by appearing on a radio show that is, to my knowledge at least nationwide, if not international. There are men out there with women in their lives that are in pain. Legitimate pain that is caused by an authentic diagnosis of Endometriosis. These men are now confronted with listening and supporting the women in their lives who suffer, or trusting the word of a medical doctor who believes that Endometriosis is a “garbage bag diagnosis” that is in need of psychological treatment. You have singlehandedly set women with a very real, very painful, and very life altering disease back years and possibly planted the seed that will erode their relationships.

I hope that you read this. I hope more that my words, and their truth, get through to you and you rethink your stance on this disease. At the very least I hope that you take some of the medical literature at your fingertips and educate yourself on Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, I.C., and other female related medical diagnoses. I also hope that you reexamine your stance on the air of your show. You have the chance to make men and the women suffering with this disease better understand it and believe that they deserve freedom from their pain.

Please do the right thing.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth

Endometriosis sufferer

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March was Endometriosis Awareness Month, so this is a particularly upsetting time for his opinion to have been broadcast. If you know someone who is suffering with endometriosis, please take a look at some of the following sites for more information. Dr. Drew’s statements were grossly inaccurate, so let’s not let his words do any more damage.

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For more information about Endometriosis and Interstitial Cystitis please look below.

Is Endometriosis All In Your Head?

Endometriosis Foundation of America

The Center for Endometriosis Care

Endometriosis.org

Endometriosis Research Center

Interstitial Cystitis Network

Endo Sucks

Petition| Recant and Apologize @ Change.org

About Red Hairing

Living Well With Endometriosis

Click Here to Read More

The endometriosis natural treatment program

Click Here to Read More

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144 thoughts on “An Open Letter To Dr. Drew Pinsky

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