Don’t ask me for advice

Something strange happened to me a few days ago. I was embroiled in a mini twitter scandal. I was sent a tweet by a lady asking what my views on Candida were as a pharmacist. I took her into the twitter consultation room and sent her a direct message.

Now I know it is not considered good practice to give advice outside the pharmacy and especially on a social networking site. But I thought there would be no harm done if I spoke to her in private. I asked her if she meant Candida Albicans and she said yes. I was asked if I believed it existed. I said yes it did and I was confused as to why she asked me that.

Her GP had told her it did not exist. This struck me as bizarre. Did her GP really say that? Did they believe it? I am assuming it was a male GP. Did the lady mishear? The lady did not strike me as being stupid. I said that I would ask around on twitter in case I had missed something.

Now I know I should have had confidence in my own abilities. I know it exists. However, there was a slight niggle in the back of my mind that I had missed some information. So I sent out a tweet asking if vaginal candidiasis still existed. I added that a friend’s GP claimed it did not and that this was a strange tweet.

Within a minute, I got a reply from a female GP who said as she owned a vagina [her words] and as a GP she could confirm it did. I thought that was pretty simple and the end of that. Alas, I was wrong. An hour later, I received a tweet from a lady saying that my friend was obviously a male and that she would not answer the question. Well I already had my answer so I just replied that my friend was a woman.

Then another lady tweeted me. ‘Did I really seriously doubt it? Did my pharmacy training say it did not exist? But because one person said it did not exist, I wondered about it’. I tried to explain myself via direct messages but she ignored me. She would be a bit worried if medical professionals relied on twitter to keep abreast of medical advances. I said that I did not mean to alarm anybody and she replied, ‘I don’t think any females were alarmed…maybe slightly annoyed?’

Wow! I said that she should be annoyed with the GP who said that it did not exist. She finally explained by direct message that she thought my friend was a male too and thought we were being sexist and juvenile.

This upset me. I was just trying to help someone. Looking back, I should never have sent that tweet. I should not have tried to give advice on here. I should have advised the lady to speak to her pharmacist or just confirm Candida’s existence and leave it at that. I definitely was not being sexist. Two women thought I was though. I do not like to argue on twitter or cause offence to anybody, but I had managed to do just that. I think their reaction was over the top though.

People need to get all the information before they comment, otherwise they end up looking stupid. A day later, I sent the original lady a direct message confirming what the GP on twitter had said and the resulting craziness. She was horrified. She apologised. She meant oral thrush…..

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