Monday, February 9, 2009

Doctors Who Research

I searched for a new doctor when my insurance company dropped my current doctor's practice from their plan. The new insurance is supposed to be less expensive in the long run but I have far fewer choices for physicians. The first doctor I considered was put into a drug treatment program, and had his license stripped away. The second doctor had been through an indictment, and lost his license. The third was listed as a marathon runner, and that was my green flag that this person may know a little bit about joint conditions and the way bone disorders operate.

I wasn't exactly charmed by our first encounter. The office is decidedly efficient, with little room for warmth. There isn't any banter between staff and doctors. The place isn't peppered with sales items, and the sales person who bothered to show up when I was there was quickly shuttled away. That was a selling point, though. I was shuffled into an office, and then a few moments later, was bombarded with short, sharp questions from a woman who didn't bother introducing herself. I assumed she was the doctor as her lab coat had imprinted names, but I still have no idea if she knows I hadn't even seen her for less than five minutes before she stomped out again.

This is the first doctor's office I had been to in quite some time where I wasn't handed a bunch of sales items, or viewed notepads from drug companies. There was no indication that there was a single drug pushed here. The doctor looked at my forms, said, "I don't administer THOSE medications" when she came upon the morphine, and then proceeded to ask ten or so questions that didn't really tell me anything about her except she was business, and nothing but.

But, after about 15 more minutes, she returned and asked even more questions. She had read up on Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and wanted to know about my previous treatments. She had researched my issues specifically. Everything was done as if I was in an interview for a high power managerial job. But then she said the one thing I hadn't heard in about eight years. "You've been given a lot of medication that is contraindicative, and I think we need to start from scratch."

I started to explain that every doctor I had since since 2002 has done nothing but hand me pills for side effects of other medications. I've gained 58 lbs in total, and I am feeling miserable about not being heard by anyone, including her. I saw her reaching for a document. She said, "we need to get you the right tests to find out the right diagnosis." And, left it at that.

The next ten minutes, I waited for her assistant to hand me a lab sheet. I saw tests that I have been requesting for YEARS suddenly become the first line of offense for this doctor. She has been doing research on my condition before the first visit. In fact, her partner helped the assistant by saying, "She has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, you'll need to look under 'syndrome' for the coding". Her partner had also been made aware of my condition. I hadn't even walked through their doors, had only researched them via the Medical Licensing bureaus, and the insurer's site. I was floored.

I know that I'm going to at least be seen as a patent who is trying to be healthy, rather than someone who only wants drugs. I know that my doctor is interested in the issues that arise from my conditions. And, I now have a better feeling, that this time, I won't be stuck in yet one more cycle of side effects. Who knows, maybe this time next year I will be back to my normal size AND walking on my own. But I do know, this is a professional who is interested in one thing- keeping me on a road to true health.

Today's questions: Have you done research on your health professionals? Do your doctors take time to learn about you and your conditions? What do you wish your doctor would understand about you, and your illnesses?

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