Monday, April 16, 2012

Finding A New Doc Part 586

Finally, after months of waiting, my appointment with a new rheumatologist is here.

Tomorrow afternoon I have to go see my second recommended doctor on the island, and I'm nervous as hell.

Nervous to the point where I've been putting off writing this post, distracting myself with watching the news, looking at photos on Facebook, scratching kitty bellies, thinking of what I should do today, etc.

But I turned off the television, closed out of all the other windows on the computer screen, and shooed little Niki away.

What am I nervous about?

Well, I don't really know. Lots of things I guess.

I'm nervous that the second rheumatologist will not work out. I'm dreading the possible annoyance from my primary care doc and her nurse if I have to call and say I need another referral. Luckily, if that's the case, I have the name of another doctor that was recommended to me, but I'm really hoping I don't have to go there.

But pushing aside any thoughts of trouble at dealing with the outcome of a bad match, simply the idea that this appointment could go very wrong is what stresses me out the most.

All I want is a good doctor. A doctor I feel comfortable with. I'm looking for that gut instinct that tells me it's a good situation. I want that instant positive vibe to come when I meet this guy.

Unfortunately I think that is a rare thing with doctors these days, but I'm holding out hope.

Here's a question: Is it better to go into a new appointment with low expectations, or to go in with lots of positive hope? 

The problem with the low expectation approach is that you enter the room with a negative feeling to begin with. Yes, you only have room to go up, but how difficult will that be if you're putting out such a bad vibe to begin with?

And the problem with being too hopeful and positive is that you could be shot down unexpectedly and it's heart crushing when that happens.

Luckily, this time around I'll have my husband with me. For me, this is key because it's always best to have an advocate at your side. It's good to have a witness with you, and someone to bring up questions or concerns that you might forget or not think of. Also, since I don't have a car right now, it's necessary for getting a ride to the hospital.

Always thinking logically, after all!

So, to help me get through this appointment, I'm going to list out a few things that I feel will be important for me to remember. Things I have to remind myself to keep things on track. Here we go . . .


1. This appointment is strictly an interview. 

I have to keep my head in the right mindset. This appointment with the new doc is a chance for me to meet him, and interview him for the position of my new rheumatologist. It was what I had in mind for my first appointment with Dr. Jackass McSlimebucket, but I didn't follow through. When I walked into the office I shed all of my confidence and lost control over the situation.

I am the one making the decisions here. You need to make a good impression on me or I will take my business elsewhere. That being said . . .

2. Have questions for Dr. New Guy like an interviewer would.

Maybe asking him how long he's been practicing would seem like a weird question, but it could be an important one to address. But there are certain questions that I would be interested to hear his views on. How does he view different treatments? How would he deal with certain situations? Is he going to be able to handle a headstrong, crazy person like me? All important stuff.

Note to self: write down list of questions for Dr. New Guy for tomorrow.

3. Keep in mind the importance in sticking with my current treatment.

One thing that bugged the crap out of me about the last guy I saw was that within ten minutes of meeting me he was already talking about changing my medicine doses and prescriptions. This was absurd to me because for one, he didn't know me at all, and two, I had just told him I was happy with the way my treatment was going and I didn't want to change it. So big red flag when he decided it was time for me to switch things up.

I've got a good thing going right now and I'm in no hurry to change. Maybe if after a while of getting to know me you have an idea of what might be a better situation, we can talk. But for now, let's stick with the program.

*Also take note of all Red Flags. 

4. Make it clear that I am in charge.

This might sound weird and controlling, but it's important to me. I need this doctor to know that I am not the kind of patient that will give in to whatever my doctor suggests. I need the facts, I need to be convinced, I'm not just going to agree to something blindly. I will argue and I will bring with me ideas. I'm not just going to sit back and hand over my fate to a doctor I just met.

I view the doctor-patient relationship like a partnership. We will be working together, I won't be taking orders from you. If you can agree to that then we're going to work out just fine.

5. Honesty and Compassion.

I'm gonna come right out and say it. I'm looking for a doctor I can trust to be myself with. I'm looking for a doctor who will take my calls and actually give a shit about what I'm saying. First of all, I have a very strong personality and I say what I feel right away. I don't want a doctor who will stifle me. When I talk about what I'm going through, I want a doctor who will listen, take in what I'm saying, and give me an honest answer I can deal with.

I also need a doctor who will get to know me. If I see my doctor at the grocery store or the gym, I want that doctor to acknowledge that he knows me. (Hey Doc Wiz! Funny seeing you in the produce section on a Sunday! I'm doing great, thanks for asking.)

What I'm talking about here is building a relationship with someone who will stick with me for the years ahead.

I'm getting overwhelmed just thinking about all of this.

My goal now is to put together a list of key topics and questions for Dr. New Guy.

If you have any advice on how to approach a new doctor, email me, comment here, facebook me! I need all the help and support I can get!

I love you all.

1 comment:

  1. Having hubby is a great start. This way you can ask his impressions as well. Having that list of questions is paramount in my opinion. And I wouldn't hesitate to tell this doc that this visit is to see if you both are a good match. Key questions I would include would be: pain treatment for your condition(s) - how does he approach that (don't ask that as a first question because that may make him think you are pain med shopping - sad but true), what is his roadmap to treating your condition. What I mean by this is what meds does he start with, how long does he think a patient should test that med before adding or dropping (which is what I personally would want the doc to do) the med and moving on to another course of action, what criteria does he use to determine how your case is progressing (run if he only mentions lab results!). I would want a doctor that asks me how I am currently functioning on a day to day basis with specific focus on tasks I might be having problems with. Does he also include non traditional treatments and what is his view on them (if I recall you are doing a Paleo diet - I think) and would want his support on that. How do you reach him in case of an emergency like a horrific flare - after hours and including weekends and what will he do at that point? How many patients does he currently serve? What is the average wait time to see him? How long does he usually spend with a patient that is not a new patient? When does he consider a patient in remission? Some doctors will say based on lab results only...I personally don't want a doctor will only use that criteria. And lastly, how does he treat side effects from medications? These would be just a few of the many questions I would want to ask?


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