Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My Relationship With Doctors

I was laying in bed trying to sleep.  That became futile once my brain took over and started thinking about things. I have a cardiologist appointment next week.  I've been anxiously waiting for this visit for quite a few months now.  It's gotten me thinking about my evolutionary relationship with the doctors I've interacted with. 

In middle school I was playing a hard game of softball in gym class. I hit a homer, was rounding second base, and my knee decided to do it's own thing. I went to my family doctor.  I was rarely sick as a kid so if my doctor said something I naively thought it must be true right?  My family doctor told me there was nothing wrong with my knee, despite the pain I was in.  He thought I was looking for attention and playing up a minor injury. By the end of the week I could barely put weight on the leg, so my Mom decided to get a second opinion. Turns out I had seriously dislocated my knee cap and ended up doing a whole summer's worth of rehab on it. That began my tumultuous relationship with doctors. 

Being so young, I was rather impressionable.  I began to wonder if I was just over reacting to everything when I felt sick. I wondered, was the doctor right, was I just looking for a reaction? Did I need attention that badly? Every time I was sick I would wonder if I should down play how I felt thinking that maybe I was just some hypochondriac kid, who didn't know any better. I still feel that way some times today. It makes me step back and ask myself if I am just being silly or could it be something that I need to see a doctor about.

Shortly after having my daughter my Sjs symptoms started to show. I saw so many specialists. I felt like I was passed around from one to the next. I was afraid they were all writing down "delusional watch out for this one!" in my charts. Many of the doctors wrote me off as having post partum symptoms that would resolve on their own. Going through that time period helped me realize that we as patients have to be our own advocates.  If we aren't there are too many doctors out there now, spurred on by time and money, that would rather just give you some meds than listen to what a patient has to say.

The shining moment came when I met my rheumatologist, "Dr. A." She helped me piece the puzzle together. I began to realize that there was actually a reason for my symptoms.  I wasn't dealing with post partum.  I wasn't a hypochondriac.  I wasn't crazy! Nothing was too small to be overlooked by her.  She slowly helped me realize that a patient deserves to be listened to. To be treated with respect and not just become another textbook crazy person. She's given me hugs, held my hand, and encouraged me when I have felt at my lowest.  In her eyes, there is always something that can be done to help me.  There is always extra time to help me figure out my latest health conundrums.

So that brings me back to the cardiologist appointment I have next week. The cardiologist I saw previously came in to my appointment and had already diagnosed me without even speaking with me.  I threw a monkey wrench in his plans once he had read the halter monitor that I had to wear for him.  20,000 extra beats in 24 hours isn't good under any circumstances. When I went in for my follow up he said that he "couldn't really figure out what was wrong.  He would be retiring shortly and didn't feel the need to deal with me anymore.". That's encouraging right??? I have an appointment with a new cardiologist this time. Thank God for that!  I am hoping that she's as great as my rheumatologist. Yes....hope.... "Dr. A" has given me hope.

Photo found here.

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