October 03, 2008

The Importance of a Single Doctor

No, I most certainly do not mean that your doctor must live in the chastity of singleness or fidelity of marraige to practice medicine.  (Sorry, that's a Presbyterian... joke.)

A new blog-friend that I've recently found is experiencing a very frustrating existence.  He lives in England and was diagnosed with FSGS, the disease I have, but is dealing with three different doctors in a tag-team sort of situation.  From what I understand, he does not know when he walks into the office which of the "Consultants" he will be seeing.  (*I have just realized that this is because he is in England he is part of the National Healthcare system.  This is still important, so I'm still posting it!)

I want you all to know that this is very very bad.  (And I've told him so, and he's working to resolve it.  He was way before I said anything about it!)  If you don't see the same person from visit to visit you will receive different information, treatment, and, to be honest a different experience.  I saw a doctor once that told me I would be on dialysis in five years, have a transplant in ten, and probably another transplant after that.  This was "no matter what treatment we go with."  It was his last day at the practice, and I was thankful for that, because even with that grim prognosis, I believe that it would have been better to have stability in treatment than to bounce around too much.

This is not to say that you should never change doctors.  When I moved an hour away from my doctor, I remained with him for an additional year.  It was worth driving back and forth once every three months rather than making a switch.  At that point he and I had different ideas about how my treatments should continue.  He was very out of touch with new technology and refused to listen to me when I made suggestions.  After giving him my time and my health, I decided that it was best for me to move on.  He retired shortly after that, and I think that's good for the rest of his patients, too. 

When you have a difference of mindset from your doctor, things will not work.  If you are a holistic person and the doctors only answer and option is medicine, you should find someone new.  If you think that only drugs will work and your doctor says that you need to do yoga and see a chiropractor it will not work because you have to buy into their plan, and they need to know that you're going to do that.  Your health is not a commodity - doctors are should not be people-pleasers.  They need to work with patients as the individuals that they are. 

If your doctor is a part of a shared practice, it is okay (in my opinion) on occasion to be checked up by a partner, because doctors usually group themselves together with other doctors that share similar methodologies.  That being said - when I was with the out-of-date Nephrologist, his partner contradicted his request on my chemo treatment.  That created a lot of confusion for me, and made my choice to leave that practice easier.

The bottom line is that your doctor works for you - it's your health.  If you decide that you don't want to take medicines that are bringing you severs side effects, that you're decision.  You need to respect your doctors, but your doctors also need to respect you.  I am not one that believes that respect comes automatically with your position - so I believe that consistency of care is essential.

(Side note - I'm mad that the Firefox dictionary, among others, does not recognize "nephrologist" as a word!)

1 comment:

  1. Rob, I agree... As a woman, we visit the doctors so much for so many things and it's important that you're not only comfortable w/the person, but in tune with their ideas for your health. For me, it's paramount.