It’s been a year and a half since I moved into my house and while some things had to be done right away, such as putting the utilities in my name, there are other things I’ve procrastinated on.
One change I kept putting off was finding a new Primary Care Physician. I don’t often visit a doctor as my health is good so it didn’t feel important to do right away. I feel strongly that there needs to be a good fit between doctor and patient and just couldn’t work up the energy to go through the process to find that one doctor I’d be happy with long term.
I’ve only had three primary care physicians in my lifetime. The first I didn’t care for. I saw him until I was twelve. At the time I didn’t have the words for why I took such a dislike of him, looking back I realize it’s because he was stuck in the dark ages in how he treated his patients. This guy still used ether on a rag to knock you out for exams!
When I was twelve my mother switched us to a new doctor. He was the nephew of the urologist I saw for my kidney issues. He was nice but for the first two years there was a tension between us. I had the impression he didn’t like me. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
At the age of 14, and recently moved out of the abusive situation of my mother’s home I called his office asking for an immediate referral to another doctor as I was dealing with a serious kidney issue. He called me personally to ask why I wanted a referral. I explained the situation and told him I wasn’t comfortable coming to his office where I could run into my mother. To make a long story short he insisted I get to his office immediately, time was a factor with my kidney, and that he would no longer see my mother or my siblings so I was safe.
Sitting in his office that day, doubled over in pain, he asked me to answer one question. Did she abuse me? I realized then it wasn’t me he didn’t like but my mother. Things made sense now, all those visits when I my face was swollen and my nose broken or the sprained arm… He never made direct eye contact with me while my mother explained how this injury happened, it was always the same, I was a klutz, but then he would stare me down and ask if that was what happened. I would nod yes, what was I going to say with my mother standing next to me? He believed all along that she had been abusing me but the other doctors in his practice refused to permit him to call the authorities because he had no proof and none of my siblings ever came in the office with the injuries I did. If he had called the authorities on my mother and he was wrong the practice could have been sued.
All those times I’d tried to find someone to help me and here he was just waiting for the chance.
He took me under his wing and played the role of substitute father. I had his home phone number in case I ever needed to talk – about anything. He could see right through me as no one else could. He knew statistically I had the background which could lead to substance abuse and was determined I would make it through the next few years without problems. He talked to me just like a father would warning me of the dangers of drugs and alcohol yet knowing I might try things anyway would then turn it around to what were the least dangerous in terms of my health.
The last time I saw him was a month before my second child was born when I asked him if he would be my baby’s doctor. He said he would but the day my son was born the staff at the hospital kept telling me I was wrong and had to name another doctor. When his uncle showed up to do my son’s circumcision I finally learned my children and I were without a family doctor. My doctor, the only father figure I’d ever had, had his license taken after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and was moving south where the climate would be kinder to him. I still miss that man. His uncle offered to be our family physician until I found another doctor I was comfortable with.
I continued to see this specialist as my family doctor for the next two years. He would ask me to try one doctor after another but each time I would come back and tell him it wasn’t going to work out. Then one day he asked if I would consider seeing his daughter who had just joined the practice. I agreed and he brought her in to talk to me. We hit it off right away and from that day in 1989 I haven’t seen any other physician.
You know how they say doctors make the worst patients? Well, even though I don’t have a medical degree I’m just as bad, maybe worse. I know my body better than any one else and want to have an active part in all matters dealing with my health. Not all doctors appreciate a patient who questions them. 🙂 Add in my aversion to prescriptions (except as a last resort) or my refusal to comply with certain “routine” tests and exams and I can be a doctors worst nightmare.
Every time I would think about finding a new doctor I’d remember how hard it was to find a doctor I liked all those years ago and I would put it off for another day. My procrastination came to bite me in the butt when my chair needed repaired and I was required to visit the doctor, 150 miles away, before the repair work would be done.
Still I put it off. Winter came and I couldn’t make an appointment in advance because I never knew what the weather would be like. Well, winter is over (positive thinking never hurts), so I sat down and started to call around.
I can’t say I have heard good things about doctors and hospitals in this area, actually all I’ve heard has made me feel there aren’t any good doctors around. Just last week the oldest of my neighbor boys had a seizure. This child already has health issues from birth. He was born with water on the brain and is developmentally behind so you would think at the age of 14 having his first seizure would be a concern. Nope. The hospital informed his mother that yes, there were signs he had a seizure and oh, by the way, his iron is low. They sent him home with script for iron pills and that was it.
Compare that to a couple years ago when my son had his first seizure at the age of 29 at work. He was taken to the hospital for extensive testing, sent to a specialist and not permitted to return to work or normal activities until there was an answer as to what caused the seizure. My neighbor boy had no restrictions and even returned to school the next day. No extensive testing and no follow up with any doctor.
So I did what made the most sense, I called and scheduled an appointment for the doctor closest to my home, one that no one I’d asked could tell me anything about. The best fit for me would be a naturopath but my insurance won’t cover the costs so I tend to look for Doctors of Osteopathic medicine as traditionally they avoided the use of prescription medications, but there isn’t much difference between a DO and a MD any more.
My appointment was yesterday. It was a strange experience, I can’t explain it any other way. Upon meeting the doctor his first words were that he had no knowledge of Muscular Dystrophy, but he was willing to learn. So far so good. The type of Dystrophy I have is so rare that not even the specialists know any thing about it so I wasn’t expecting any family doctor to have knowledge in this area. Then came the questions of the dates of my last this or that test and vaccine. Finally, I explained to him the reasons I don’t do many of the suggested annual exams and he accepted my explanation promising to respect my wishes. Woo Hoo!
As the appointment neared its end, I asked him if he wanted to take me on as a patient. The way I see it, if I have the right to pick a doctor I like he should have that same choice in who he sees as his patients.
Just as he was saying goodbye and reached to shake my hand he threw me with a new question. Was I a spiritual person. What?! That was a new one but even feeling this question was a bit too personal I still think I found the best fit possible. It’s official now. I’ve permanently severed the last official tie to my old home.
Have you ever had a doctor make a big impression on you, one way or the other?