The Squeaky Wheel…

Hey there Guys,

Today I am writing this post from my bed. Unfortunately I suffer with an inherited spinal condition that often leaves me with severe pain that has often left me wondering “what the fuck did I do to deserve this?”.

Please don’t think I’m looking for sympathy, I’m good and now hooked up with a pain specialist but it took a lot of complaining to get that appointment and I’m a freaking doctor! Normally I would not talk about my own health but this week really has reinforced the importance of standing up for what is important, for being your own advocate.

Take my mate Christopher Banks, AKA Bipolar Bear. I’m very fortunate to have Chris staying with me and just last week his computer was delivered after being carefully packed and sent across via FedEx. Much to his dismay the computer arrived broken, missing parts and unable to be booted.

In what was a comedy of customer service errors FedEx denied, shunted and blamed everyone other their own corporation for the broken computer. Heck they even tried to blame me for the damaged computer because it was delivered to my house. You can read the full story here @ Chris’ Blog.

As a direct response to his post a ground swell of Chris’ mates tweeted, shared, commented and wrote to FedEx leading to them refunding the $600 freight charge. I have just been emailed from FedEx saying that they may be also paying to replace his destroyed computer. It took a ground swell, persistance but also a person standing up and saying “no I’m not going to take your first well rehearsed answer!”

For months now I have been talking with my good mate about my chronic pain. Month after month he would kindly listen and support when finally he told me the truth. “George it’s about time you took the role of the squeaky wheel, it’s time to start standing up for yourself and demand someone listen to your pain.”

Much like Chris, I took the bull by the horns, I phoned the head of the biggest pain clinic in Melbourne. As it was she was heading overseas that very day but she very kindly agreed to see me and to just let her secretary know and they would organise the appointment ASAP.

Wall one…

So I call the secretary, who listens and lets me know in the most patronising tone that it was great that I spoke to the head and then she’ll be absolutely sure to put my request for an appointment to the very top… Well, after I’ve filled in the requisite paperwork. Hmmm.

So the paperwork was faxed 5 minutes later, I phoned and was able to confirm it was received. The secretary explained she would be onto it straight away and I would be told of my appointment very soon.

Clearly my version of ‘very soon’ was very different to hers. I called back at the end of the day asking about my future appointment and was told that it would not be organised till next week and ‘to be quite frank’ she did not believe I had spoken with the head of the clinic. After 10 minutes of back and forth I explained that I would be presenting on their doorstep in the next 30 minutes. Suddenly she was able to organise an appointment.

Yet again it takes a squeaky wheel to get the grease. Some people would say being annoying, I would say being a persistant advocate for my health.

Coming up next week is RUOK day. A day where we take the time to sit down with someone we may be worried about and ask the question, “are you OK?”.

Mental illness can be hard. Asking for help is difficult especially if it’s ignored. It’s not easy to be your own health advocate when you can’t even get out of bed, or you are vomiting with anxiety.

Next Thursday, the 13th of September, I urge you to stop and offer a hand to a friend who may be struggling, someone who may not be able to be their own “squeaky wheel”. You can learn more about RUOK day here at their website:

Keep an eye on The Healthy Bear facebook page as I’ll be sharing details of R U OK events as I learn of them. Do you know someone who might need a “squeaky wheel”? You just never know you may be saving a life.

Yours in good health.

Dr “Squeaky Wheel” George

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