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Medical/christian ethics. Long.

(87 Posts)
stopmovingthefurniture Wed 01-May-13 20:44:35

Sorry if this is in the wrong place. I need advice on how to deal with a orthopedic surgeon (hereafter called X) who will not see me again until I go and ask my mother for forgiveness for the anger he believes I'm holding against her (but is harassing via email all the same!).

X is a family friend, in church leadership close to my parents. The denomination is evangelical. When he heard that I've been left disabled following a pregnancy, X offered to help me out of concern and is not being paid. He practices privately and is accountable to no one, at least in this instance. He checked at least twice that I was ok with his approach ('treating the whole person'). I gave consent, thinking that it sounded pleasantly holistic.

X has been taking a thorough history before doing anything - a deeply invasive process that took about seven hours, spread over 3-4 visits (plus very probing homework). While he was gentle and almost uncomfortably fatherly, it was clear that he was trying to zero in on anger towards DM during the questioning. DM was a controlling, possessive parent and I was a depressed teenager as a result. (Incidentally, X's history was a much more invasive and directive than a psychiatrist would carry out). I ended up actually apologising for not having much anger these days, having talked it through many years ago.

X now wants me to go to my mother re: forgiveness because (a) seeking forgiveness is obligatory for a professing christian and (b) it will create a physical release that will bring my physical up to a standard that he can use a medical intervention (steroid injection into the pelvic area).

On X's last visit, his manner was completely changed. He raised his voice and vehemently began to say I was ill because of the sin in my life; I needed to seek my mother's forgiveness for how I'd felt about her through my childhood and beyond. I tried to disagree and he held up my 'homework', half-shouting 'It's all over this!'. In the same tone, he virtually shouted what I'd written: 'deep unhappiness, isolation, annoyance...'. These emotions hadn't been connected with my mum and he'd made the word 'annoyance' up. When I pointed this out, he seemed very irritated and said 'Come on, there must have been anger!' He quoted a psalm in which the writer says that his bones ache as a result of sin (proof that bone problems can be the result of sin). Then another biblical example, of a man who had been thrown into torment because he had not forgiven a debt despite having had a larger debt forgiven himself. 'Would you say you were in torment?' he asked. I felt cornered because I'm clearly in torment. So I tried to engage with the request (why DM exactly) and X told me I was arrogantly overthinking when all that was required was faith, quoting the example of the Old Testament character who was cured of an illness by washing seven times in the Jordan, a river he considered unclean.

DH was tried to clarify the request and engage with it on my behalf, to which X repeatedly said 'look, I've been at this a long time' and went on to describe a past case where a woman in exactly my situation who hadn't done what he'd asked. He didn't want to say what had happened to her. X said the situation was urgent and deterioration would occur if the treatment didn't progress. He told me I may well have to hand over parenting responsibilities to my mother if I don't follow his 'request' (something I'd earlier said I had fears about, despite a specialist physio saying this isn't going to happen).

* X finished the consultation by telling me to arrange another when I'd done what he'd asked. I haven't done it and wasn't sure what to say to him, so I haven't yet contacted him (3 weeks later). He has now sent a couple of angry emails reiterating the urgent nature of the case and 'ramifications as stated'. I feel trapped.

* My very abusive FIL is also a church leader (same kind of church). DP refused to obey him and divorce me when we were struggling a couple of months into our marriage (FIL said that God would understand it was really an annulment because I was not 'as advertised'...) We eventually stepped back from relationship with them because it was simply toxic. I suspect he's the next person X would be sending me to ask forgiveness (X says God wishes everyone to be reconciled).

How do I deal with this? Is there anyone out there to help with this?

sparechange Thu 02-May-13 15:51:50

What. the. actual?

I've got a back condition which means I've had to have a few steriod injections into my back and hips (SI joints) over the years.

I've had 3 different surgeons do this over the years, and their assesment/thorough examination before each treatment has been identical with each one I've had, and it involves nothing more 'invasive' that asking me about my symptoms and getting me to touch my toes.

The only time he has asked about anything remotely personal or family-orientated is to check who my next of kin is and who'll be collecting me after the procedure. And one asked gently what my plans were re future pregnancies as the condition I have is made worse by pregnancy so he wanted to give me guidance on what to look out for.

This sounds SO deeply unethical on SO many levels

Do you think your 'D'M might have put him up to it?
Hours and hours of soul searching for a procedure that is little more invasive than getting a filling is just beyond bizarre

madhairday Thu 02-May-13 15:54:34

Nothing to add really to the excellent advice above, but as a Christian in church leadership I am shocked and appalled by this man's bullying and spiritual abuse. Please, please don't take account of anything he is saying to you. He is so very, very wrong and I am so glad you are reporting it.

To twist the Christian faith in this way is appalling - he is trying to control you. sad Please see your gp, and please know that the majority of christian leaders do not do this kind of manipulative crap. sad

stopmovingthefurniture Thu 02-May-13 16:49:03

Thanks to all who say this isn't representative of Christianity. I know it isn't and don't want anyone reading this to think badly of the christian faith as a result. These men are definitely the exception - DF and DH are the real deal.

justabigdisco Thu 02-May-13 19:27:56

Well done OP and good luck, let us know how it goes!

Melawen Thu 02-May-13 19:35:58

Oh well done for contacting the GMC. Do let us know how it goes. And get yourself to a GOOD doctor!!

aldiwhore Thu 02-May-13 19:40:33

I'm not religious at all so you can understand how this looks more like extremist, cultish (is that a word) behaviour than ANYTHING else.

I assume you ARE Christian and devout, so I kind of understand the absolute confusion and shock.

I do not think this is representitive of Christianity at all, just representitive of craziness.

I also assume you read the bible. I also assume you know fundamentally what feels right and what feels wrong. Read the bible, lean on those who are loving, seek proper medical advice. There are PLENTY of Christian scientists in the world, plenty of Christian doctors... plenty of devout Christians who know you can't fix a broken bone through prayer alone.

You are being made to feel dirty. As though what you feel emotionally is the reason for your physical pain, and the reason this is effective for crazies is because there's truth in some of it, but there's NO TRUTH in this.

Stay strong. You know it's wrong. Good luck with your physical treatment. I also hope you find some comfort from those LESS crackers within your faith and outside of it for the emotional damage that has been done.

infamouspoo Thu 02-May-13 19:58:56

I think you need a different church as well. Totally shocked by what Ive read here.

timidviper Thu 02-May-13 20:13:39

This doctor, your DM and your FIL sound like the worst type of Christians, the sort who are so rigid in their beliefs they are the opposite of what God would want. I am a christian and work in healthcare, believe me I would report any doctor behaving like this in a heartbeat.

Make sure you keep evidence of everything you can for any complaint (including the inappropriate intrusiveness of his consulting) and try to build your live with nicer people in it

EuroShaggleton Thu 02-May-13 20:54:10

This is shocking. I'm glad you are reporting, OP. You need to get away from this harmful man, and he needs to be kept away from others. I would second the suggestions to find a new church.

It also crossed my mind that perhaps the OP's mother had put this man up to this as the OP mentioned that he is close to them.

HairyGrotter Fri 03-May-13 11:27:39

Man alive, some religious people are just fucking nuts!!

Glad you've reported him, his actions/behaviour/approach is deeply unethical, which is ironic given his 'religious' status.

Good for you!

EldritchCleavage Fri 03-May-13 14:03:18

I think he was just getting off on controlling you and bending you to his will. Doesn't sound as though he cared about helping/curing you at all. I'm very sorry you went through this. Good luck with finding better, effective treatment.

PunkHedgehog Fri 03-May-13 16:23:11

Here's what you should expect from the next doctor you see:

A history to be taken. This will ask about your general health and any other medical conditions you have, any medication you are taking, how long you have had the current problem, what triggered it originally, what treatment you've had so far, and what makes it worse/better. It should not ask about your family or relationships. It should definitely not involve any homework, or being told how you do or should feel. It will probably take less than 15 minutes, it will definitely not need repeated visits.

Some physical tests - difficult to be specific without knowing what your condition is, but what you've said this will probably just be a few bends and stretches and maybe being asked to walk a short way.

Depending on the above, you may be sent for an X-ray or other scan.

If the treatment is just the injection you were expecting from the previous doctor, you will probably get that at the end of the first consultation if you aren't waiting for scan results.

The only 'homework' you should get should be physical exercises (if relevant for your condition). These might be set by the ortho specialist but if you need this it's more likely that you'll be referred to a physiotherapist.

If - and this is pretty unlikely - the ortho thinks there is a psychological component to your condition (depression, for example, can cause or be caused by physical pain), you will be referred to someone with the proper training; a pyschologist, CBT therapist etc. An orthopaedic surgeon would not treat this themselves.

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