Archive for the ‘As A Patient’ Category


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Doctor Who: The Doctor, Jodie Whittaker

Have you ever had a wonderful doctor that you actually recommend to people because you genuinely feel they’re splendid in their job?

They’re the kind of doctor who keeps up on their specialty and know what they’re talking about. They have a great bedside manner. The kind of doctor who is willing, and even encourages back and forth dialogue. The kind of doctor that you want to hug during emotional moments, and on the way out of the appointment.

They even have excellent office staff, nurses, medical assistants, and APRNs. How often does that trifecta happen?

How often do you really get to keep that sort of doctor? Whenever I have this type of Wonder Doctor, I always wait for the other shoe to drop. Whenever I tell other people about my Wonder Doctor/s I can see the initial look of doubt on the face of the person I’m telling.

The more I mention my Wonder Doctor/s the more it seems they’re actually more elusive than *loyalty, devotion, selflessness, unflagging optimism, and unqualified love. 😉

In very early December I called the office of my pain management and spine specialist doctor. I needed to confirm my upcoming appointment and let them know I needed refills prior to the appointment since we misjudged the timing during scheduling the last time I was in the office. The nurse answering the phone said,

Oh… you didn’t get the letter?

Um, no?

And I didn’t call you? You were on my list my call, I could have sworn.

Well, no, James [name has been changed to protect Todd] you didn’t call and I didn’t get a letter (nervous laugh). You’re starting to worry me.

I’m so embarrassed (really, really nervous laugh from James). Doctor Awesomesauce is leaving the practice. I swear a letter went out, but sometimes … I’m so sorry you didn’t get a copy.

And that’s when I burst out crying while on the phone, and apologized to James.

I’m so sorry you found out this way.

Can you tell me why she’s leaving? Is she going to a different practice?

She’s not. She loves this place, but while her family is still young and her child/ren is/are small she wants to be sure to be there as they grow. It’s very important to her.

I understand that. I was a stay at home parent for years, and am one again. (wipes snot and tears) I wish her well, but of course I have to be selfish for a moment. Will you be moving to the new doctor’s office?

No, unfortunately. Thank you for asking, you’re the first.

Sure. You guys have been great. Are you able to tell me who’s taking over the practice?

We don’t know who’s replacing her yet, but it’ll be a few months. It shouldn’t be past March, however someone will call you sooner than that. If not, you should, um… get a letter. With, um, all of the contact information for the new doctor.

NOTE: I did not get a call. Nor did I get a letter. Shocker, right?

I did get my usual 3-month refill for my daily medication, and single month refill for Tramadol. That helped ease some anxiety.

She was my White Rabbit of Wonder Doctors. When I got off the phone with “James” I cried for what felt like hours. Deep, sobbing, grieving cries. Much of it was because of what I described above, and much of it was because this I felt out of control. I felt anxious from not knowing who would be taking over the practice, and not knowing when that would occur. That was a rough, impossible weekend.

Throughout December, January, and February I called the number listed on the practice’s web site for Pain Management and Spine Specialist section. It directed me to my old doctor’s phone number, so I left messages there letting them know I was still interested in setting up an appointment with the new doctor. The longer I went without knowing anything, the more anxious I felt. In March I started to panic when my prescription for my daily medication reached two weeks. When I reached only a few days it was full blown anxiety attacks, especially since my pain levels have been increasing versus simply being a flare up.

I called my primary care doctor at that point and explained the situation. She was the one who referred me to Wonder Doctor in the first place, especially as friends in and out of the practice. She insisted on an in-office appointment so I complied and went in the next day. Of course we talked about my pain levels, which she keeps close track of along with the rest of my health, and updated all of my medications as we do every appointment. We had to remove the Zoloft since I was getting over a severe allergic reaction.

She agreed to give a one-time refill on my Gabapentin/Neurontin, which not only helps the Fibromyalgia but the myofascial pain, carpal tunnel, and osteoarthritis. She then asked me if I expected a refill on Tramadol. I hadn’t asked for one since I had been without it since mid-February after stretching it out. I tend to try to stretch it out for emergencies, but got yelled at by my pain doctor for that since she said it’s not managing my pain properly. No pain medication taken daily can relieve more than 25-to-45% of chronic pain, and that’s why Tramadol when used properly is given to take 2X a day 12 hours apart with the exception of specific, special instructions for, well, exceptions. When I explained what Wonder Doctor and I discussed and usually did, and how I handled Tramadol, she looked through the shared notes on the system and saw I wasn’t lying. She called in Tramadol too.

In case you couldn’t tell, I really, really love my PCP. Since at least as early as 2004. I’m still waiting for the other shoe on her to drop. ::sigh::

When I went to the reception nurse to check on my next appointment, she gave me the number for the new Pain Management and Orthopaedic Specialist taking over Now SAHM Doctor and set up and appointment for me for two weeks later. That was early-ish April. I prepared myself for a doctor who would be like my first Rheumatologist.

He’s young, tall, seems to know his stuff regarding my medical issues, and he’s open to back and forth discussion. He’s open to continued research. He’s open to discussing how alternative therapies can help support relieve pain so that any pain medication I take is at minimal dosage. After that appointment, we had a check-in two weeks later since we adjusted my meds and got results from a urine test. At that appointment we both agreed to continue treatment, and both signed the contract regarding opioid use and other pain med usage, how to behave in the office, how to use (or not use) alcohol and other drugs, how to approach ERs and hospital visits, how to approach other doctors, etc. He’s really, really thorough.

I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

If that shoe does drop, I’ll have to remember that when God closes one door he always opens a window*.

 

*Full quote with thanks from  John Grogan:
Many of the qualities that come so effortlessly to dogs – loyalty, devotion, selflessness, unflagging optimism, unqualified love – can be elusive to human.

*2 I’m sorry not sorry for mixing metaphors. 😉

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