Would you say anything?

I'd be interested in others' opinions on this and what if anything I should do / say as for some reason it's really bothering me.

I saw my fantastic resp. nurse last week. As usual she was wonderful, helpful and put me at ease. However, she had with her another nurse who I've never met before. When my resp. nurse left the room briefly, this other nurse turned to me and said ""You don't look like you have severe asthma, you don't look ill at all"".

I was very taken aback by this. I get similar comments a lot because of a hidden disability I have. I was also annoyed because I've worked so hard to get my asthma controlled as much as possible and lead a normal life, it feels like I'm being penalised for that. It's also the sort of comment that arises from poor understanding / beliefs about asthma that can be so dangerous to us particularly in an emergency situation when we know ourselves that things are not great even if they don't look at that moment to be too bad.

Should I say anything? I don't want to do anything that would affect my good relationship with my resp nurse, but I'm also concerned about letting this go and in effect condoning such an opinion.

19 Replies

  • You should always say when people offend you, as it can make you ill. I would mention it, just to clear it up and to check it was meant as serious. Sometimes people joke in a none amusing way!

    Definately ring your resp nurse and have a chat immediately! To put your mind at ease!

  • Yes, I think you should say something.

    I remember seeing a news item of an A&E dept on the news a few years back, think it was in the US, and I noticed in the background a huge, long banner across a main wall stating that asthmatics in distress can appear normal.

    I remember thinking ""Wow!"" at how enlightened they were. Perhaps they had something go amiss there but it would be ownderful to have that in each hospital in this country.

    If you do not say anything it will just eat you up inside. Of course, if you are feeling rubbish then weight up the pros versus cons. By saying something you might turn a poor nurse into a brilliant one with regards to asthma.

    I used to not wish this on anyone but I have now got the point where when I come across such people I do wish they had to go through what we do so they could understand it.

  • yep i would definately say something, you could ring the practise manager/person in charge if you.re worried about the good relationship you have with your nurse. She might have not realised that what she said may have upset you or it might be her manner in which case she needs telling its not acceptable. I.m not a nurse but work within a hospital, if i'd said something which had unintentionally upset one of my patients, i'd want to know and wouldn't be offended. Don't let it chew away at you. Xxx

  • try and not let peoples ignorance upset you. I would fone the asthma nurse and discuss what her colleague said. say the comment has upset you. Sometimes nurses do say silly things unintentially without reallising it. My friends who are nurses used to state that i didnt look or sounded like an asthmatic my reply was ""see me on a bad day

  • Hi Ratty, I would say something,it was a very insensitive thing to say especially if this is the area of expertise they wish to focus on. My Son and I are often told we don't look asthmatic until we speak. Neither of us wheeze which puts staff in doubt at the hospital as soon as we turn up. I'm deaf as well so that's a hidden disability too. I'm told I don't look or sound deaf, like you can look deaf or I'm far too young to be deaf,then they say ""pardon"" and laugh. People are just plain insensitive but as for a nurse I would expect a little more tactfulness!

    Good luck

  • I would say something to the nurse with whom you have a good relationship. How dismaying to hear your hard work to keep well and controlled was dismissed so lightly. S/he may go on to say something similar to another person which might deter them from seeking help or lead them to take their condition less seriously than is warranted. So raising the issue might help keep someone safe down the line.

  • I get this all the time! I usually reply with a sarcastic comment like ' Nah I tried the ill look and it just wasn't me ' or ' really, that's nice to know ' or ' Good, so the 2 and a half hours I spent getting ready this morning paid off then '.

    I would be very wary of seeing this nurse, and maybe would mention it to the resp nurse too.


    Em x

  • One of my best friends looked as fit as a fiddle a couple of days before he died of a brain haemorrhage, my grandfather looked too well to ride in an ambulance the day before he died. Good Lord! If doctors can't get things right what give a res nurse the right to say anything!

    I would mention it quietly to the res nurse who you trust before the new one gets her feet firmly glued under the carpet so to speak.

    My res nurse asked me if there is heart decease in my family. I told her that my grandmother had died whilst counting her pennies to see if she could afford to pay a bill.

    She laughed!

    Stupid, insensitive B****!!!

    I now only see my GP,

    but, unfortunately, she still has a job.

  • Ratty, say something. Its cause of people like her, that we dont get taken seriously.. And like someone else said earlier in this stream clearly she needs to suffer from asthma to see how it feels and to be told oh you dont look ill. A comment like that to some people may deter them from seeking help when they truly need it and may then end up in a very difficut position. She herself is in a position of trust. I myself would not put any into her. Have lost count of how many times my old GP (with an interest in asthma) would say oh there nothing wrong with you and then end up in hospital in trouble!! The uninterested and uneducated have no business looking after asthmatics they are messing about with our lives at the end of the day.

  • Hi

    I would simply because stress can cause an attack and if people that are supposed to be in the profession are saying stuff like that then they are not thinking of your health and shouldn't be in the job. If you have a good rappour with the resp nurse she will understand your concerns.

  • Ratty - definately say something. The other nurse may have been a student, and your Resp. nurse will need to know that she is saying such things so she can correct her.

  • Thanks everyone for your replies. Looks like the consensus is that I say something. I shall speak to my resp nurse. I don't know if this other nurse was a student or someone looking to specialise, but whatever she needs to be aware of the implications of saying something like this. Thanks again all.

  • how does someone look like they have asthma?

    seriously, you should say something. Its like a lot of people have already said on this forum time and time again. People in the medical profession dont know either get meds right or explain the severity of someone condition much.

    I think you should say something i used to visit just the one gp and ended up switching gp's within the surgery as she pin pointed errors the other one made infront of me - that did help me build trust it kind of got rid of all trust but she is a very good replacement though.

    You should mention this to your regular nurse as these comments will made patients neglect a potentially dangerous illness.

  • its horrible isnt it and makes you feel like people think its put on. i visited a newish gp nurse recently who i hadnt seen before to get my bp checked and she decided to do a full mot (of sorts). she said the same type of thing-didnt look the type of person who suffers from depression etc and that my asthma must be well controlled (which it isnt as its quite unstable at the minute) because i wasnt wheezing...she also said something that came across quite patronising alothough i doubt she meant it to come out like it 'you are well turned out arent you considering your size' after weighinhg me eeeee had to laugh or i would have cried. i said at the time that yep i do have these things and life can be very difficult at times...maybe next time you could say something at the time in front of the other nurse so that you dont leave feeling naffed off x

  • I think it goes a lot on other peoples personal experiences of medical conditions. People who have no personal or family experience have no understanding, no matter how medical trained they are.

    Maybe only people with medical experience ie personal or family or friends should be allowed to be medical people. I think it would help greatly. As when yu have a medical condition you need to be treated by understanding people.

    Just yesterday wheezer 1 said something that made me think. Her prof is an asthmatic and he said even when she is ill she is safier at home because there are less triggers there. It is so true we are often better in our own homes if we can get all the treatment we need there. Maybe the NHS should turn towards treating people in there own homes? Sorry lots of random thoughts there!

  • Thanks again everyone for your suggestions and support. Just to update, I did contact my resp. nurse who was fantastic and totally understood why it had got to me so much. I just wish now I had said something sooner rather than letting it get to me for a few days - amazing how much of an effect these little things can have. Still lesson learnt; in future I'll say something when it happens.

    Plumie - interesting thoughts though I wonder if it's a bit more complicated than that. I know good and bad people in medicine who have and have not got chronic conditions themselves. I'm a trained teacher though not teaching at the moment and one of the comments I often hear that really grates with me is that unless you have children yourself (i.e. you're a parent) you can't know about children. It's not true, although it may give a different perspective. As with medics, there are good/bad teachers with/without children of their own.

  • So glad to hear it went well, Ratty. I hope the person involved will be more thoughtful in what she says to patients and more aware of the possible negative consequences of appearing to dismiss their condition. Well done.

  • plumie in total dissagreement ive worked with people who have never had children or a significant illness's but who are the best nurses and dr's out. just a thought who would look after our mental health patients then........

  • hi ratty,

    good to hear you have gotten it off your chest. I usually only see the one doctor now as i had a similar issue when i used to see a hospital based doctor (i never worked out if she was a consultant though) at my gp practice - she would just confuse things and take the erratic tendency of my asthma easy and treat it like no big deal.

    i went in for my monthly asthma review and the gp said to see the practice based nurse (not the hospital one) to have my technique checked. so i guess other people thought she complicated things too. Sometimes its best to follow the one who does understand and not listen to anyone elses opinion which is what that other nurse was doing.



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