The Infamous White Coat Syndrome

In 2018 I started suffering severe sudden dizziness, headaches and panic attacks – several a day in fact! A standard visit to my GP’s office showed an abnormally high blood pressure reading, especially for a young woman. This continued to be the case over a few visits.

Despite years of having consistent near perfect blood pressure, most doctors would have just written it off as anxiety. But my GP chose to look into it further and organised a 24 hour blood pressure monitor. This showed consistently high blood pressure. Even while sleeping, my BP was reaching stage 2 – stage 3 hypertension.

A few weeks later this landed me in the emergency room with chest pain and a dangerously high BP. But still no body could explain this sudden and concerning change in my body, except for one genius ER doctor. After talking to me for a few seconds, she casually turned to my father and muttered the six words I’ll never forget…

“Maybe she has White Coat Syndrome.”

Now let me start by saying that I’m generally a very patient person, I’d even go as far as to say I’m very level headed and reasonable in most circumstances. But if looks could kill, this woman would have been dead twenty times over.

Not only was her behaviour completely disrespectful and condescending by talking to my father like I wasn’t there or I was a five year old child, but that one sentence could be so scarring and stop anyone from seeking urgent medical help when they actually need it.

The look on her face when I informed her for the second time that my hypertension had been confirmed by a GP and specialist along with a 24 hour BP monitor was pretty priceless, but still didn’t make me confident that she wouldn’t make that same mistake again.

This really concerns me. Heart health, all health for that matter, is extremely important. And you’re always better off being safe than sorry. Now I completely understand that ER’s have so many people every single day that turn up for simple things that could have been dealt with at a medical center, and are wasting valuable time and resources for those who actually need urgent care. But why should that ruin it for the rest of us? Why should I have been dismissed so quickly?

I’m certainly not a hypochondriac, I’m certainly not a wuss when it comes to sickness or pain, not after years of suffering from Endometriosis before these other health issues popped up. My threshold is higher than you’d think. But how would they know that, they never asked. They just continued to talk at me.

Nevertheless, I think the flaw in our health system lies with not giving someone who walks through those doors the benefit of the doubt. It lies in not seeing everyone as individuals, in lumping us all as the same people who go to the ER for a cold or a hangover.

My second ER visit had medical students on my case, who were much more thorough and caring, and did find some abnormalities in my ECG (what a shocker.) However, having my boyfriend not believe me on that second trip was a whole other scarring experience, but that’s another story for another time 😉

Trust what your body is telling you guys, you are the only person who can fight for it!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s