The Complaining Patient: Tumor or Trauma

In the 1996 “Seinfeld” episode called “The Package,” Elaine is blackballed from being seen in medical offices and tries to steal her own medical records to erase her “difficult patient” status. I had a similar experience. I had been seen by one doctor in an Oral & Maxillofacial office for the non-healing sore on my tongue that was becoming more painful. The first time, he recommended gels and salt water rinses. The second time, he recommended having my teeth shaved down because they were sharp and irritating my tongue. So, for my third visit, I asked to see a different doctor in the practice in hopes that he would have a different opinion.

He should have thought good and hard about why a never smoker, rare drinker of wine only, would present with a non-healing sore for several months. Instead, he confirmed his partners path of treatment and had the nerve to suggest that maybe it isn’t healing because I talk too much. Then, he suggested that I may be gnawing my tongue at night when I am unaware of it, despite me telling him that if I ‘gnawed’ at my tongue I would go through the roof in pain and would not sleep through it.

I believe the office receptionist may have contributed to the annoyed, lackadaisical, approach he had with me. She may have said to him, “Oh Dr. G isn’t good enough for her, she wants to see someone else.” I believe she played a part in coining me as a complaining patient. When, in fact, I had a very good reason to complain. During the time they were treating me for ‘trauma’, the tumor in my tongue was growing. Eventually, when I had a consultation in NYC at a major medical center, the doctor only had to look at the classic ulceration, and feel the enlarged lymph node in my neck, and asked, “Who are you here with?”

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Comments 4

  1. Hi Eva,

    I am 28 year old boy and having strange stuff going on with right side of tongue for almost years,it has been brushed off over and over again.
    What did your lesion look like exactly ??

    1. Post

      Bruce, My lesion looked exactly like the pic above. Typically a cancer is one spot, maybe two, but not multiple. You may have signs of an immune disorder. Can you get to a major medical center that has a dental school?

      Tell me where you live and I will try to recommend someone to you. Please send me a personal email.

  2. I currently have what was diagnosed in my 2nd or 3rd week of an ulcer on my tongue as a canker sore. That was Feb. 1st. Since then it never really goes away but changes frequently as a bump then it opens and becomes a 10+ on the pain scale for several days. It has become noticeably larger with now a dent in the middle. I have seen the PCP and have been referred to a ENT FOR a biopsy. I cannot get in until 3/22…a month from now. On and off sore throats. Woke up last Sunday with no voice. Last night developed a sore throat and one swollen tonsil. Voice again today is quite hoarse. i also have swollen lymph nodes and my ears hurt and feel kinda clogged. Orajel-severe, RX mouthwash, dental numbing agent, canker covers, and canker gel that forms a coat over it….all these products do not even work anymore. I AM A 38yo female 25 year smoker. I cannot take this pain for another MONTH!!! Do u think if I go to the ER they will do the biopsy there??? PLEASE RESPOND AND HELP WITH ADVICE….thank you.

    1. Post

      From what I understand, ER’s don’t do biopsies. Do you live near a major medical center? That is where you should go to see someone. Please email me at eva@evagrayzel.com, and tell me where you live. I’ll try to help you find someone else to go to.

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