Making Things Permanent

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.

medical

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?

 

 

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26 thoughts on “Making Things Permanent

  1. wow, I cant believe that first doctor “This guy still used ether on a rag to knock you out for exams”…Never heard of such a thing…Do you mean like for an office visit, or what..very odd.

    Lois, I am so glad you have found a Doctor who seems to respect you and your wishes. It is very rare. I will keep my fingers crossed for you that such a good start continues…

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    1. My first doctor used to knock me out with the ether when he said his exam would cause me pain. Since I was already in pain more wouldn’t have bothered me too much, but being put to sleep always bothered me.

      I have faith that I lucked out and found the doctor I needed.

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  2. It’s hard to find a good doctor isn’t it? I’ve seen lots of them, mostly because I’ve moved around so much. I’ve had terrible ones and good ones and meh ones. I have a brand new lady doctor now (she is also my husbands new doctor) and I think she is going to work out great.
    I’m a lot like you in that I question everything! Like you said some doctors don’t like that. At all. ha! That’s when I know to find a different one. The last doctor I had was becoming indifferent. He would just prescribe pills and send you on your way.
    This one doesn’t mind questions, in fact she wants me to question things! She ASKS me if I want certain tests done, if I say no, she’s good with that. She is open to listening to me, which for me is rare in doctors. So I hope she sticks around, because I sure will. 🙂
    Glad you found one that sounds like he will fit you. As for the spiritual question, that should get interesting as things go along. Spiritual and believing in God is two different things to me. Wonder why he asked.

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    1. You are very fortunate to have found a doctor you really like. I think it’s gotten harder to find doctors who value the patient’s wishes today with the regulations they are under today. The push by pharmaceutical companies to push drugs and insurance companies trying to force annual testing to collect more money makes being a doctor harder and I understand the pressures they are under but I still want to control my own medical treatment.

      I’m hoping the spiritual issue won’t become a common discussion over time. When I asked him why he wanted to know he said it helps him to understand his patients better. I would have been really put out if his question was “what religion do you belong to”. But even that question is asked by hospitals on intake questionnaires.

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      1. I understand why hospitals ask, in case of your impending death they want to know. Other wise no need to know what religion you belong to. It is very difficult to find a good doctor. Here in Canada because of the universal health care they don’t push tests like in the states. Which is good. They do push certain ones, like mamagrams and colon tests. Ones that people should be taking anyway. It’s a fine line the doctors walk I know. Some just like to do tests and some don’t seem to care.

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        1. Exactly, they ask for that reason but also because if you are hospitalized over a weekend they can send a Priest or Pastor (name your denomination’s leader here) to visit you on Sunday.

          Yes, our insurance companies have sure pushed up the cost of medical care by getting it required that doctors push tests and drugs on us. I’d love to see a universal health care program here that eliminated the insurance industry. Think it can happen in my lifetime? I seriously doubt it.

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  3. Lois, I feel like I know you so much better after reading this post. I’m so sorry to learn that you were abused by your mother. That is so sad and disturbing. What a strong and grounded person you’ve become, despite your struggles–or maybe because of them?

    Did you tell the doctor that his spirituality question was a little too personal for your liking, or did you answer him? That is odd indeed, but I’m glad he was a good fit otherwise.

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    1. Hi Joy. My mother was a very disturbed individual and realizing that helped me to move beyond those years of my life. I was also very fortunate to have certain amazing people enter my life just when I needed them. Becoming a mother and seeing my son’s personalities I often wondered who I would have been had I been nurtured as a child. I still don’t who I might have been but I’m not sure I would have liked that person more than the person I created.

      I did answer the doctor’s question, but only after asking him why he wanted to know. He was so natural about telling me it helped him to know his patients better and because he asked about spirituality, not religious denomination, that I decided to give him an answer.

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  4. When I moved to a new city, I too worried about finding a new doctor that was the right type for me. I was fortunate to find a kind family doctor who was wonderful to me and my children. I had to start looking for another doctor though when my oldest son was only 18 months old. I had taken him to office when he was sick, the doctor told me several things to try and said “if it doesn’t get better in 2 days, bring him back in.’ However, when those things didn’t work & I called to get an appointment, the nurse refused to bring him back until we tried what she told me to do. I explained to no avail. And then I went looking for a new doctor. I’m a nurse, so was astonished at the problem. I lucked into a young doctor who was just going into practice. He was my family doctor for 28 years. When my oldest son died in an accident, Dr. H called me the very next morning to offer any assistance. I treasured that kindness. Finding the ‘right’ doctor is quite a relief when found!! Glad you have a local doctor now.

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    1. Hi Jan, I hope you are doing well. What a shame that your doctor’s nurse thought she could make decisions for you and your child. I hope you contacted the doctor to let him know his nurse was overstepping her position. I love finding new doctors. Both my family doctor and our dentist were just starting out when we met them, just starting out they have not been disillusioned and are willing to go that extra mile for their patients. To this day both will do anything they can for my children and grandchildren.

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  5. Very enlightening post, Lois. Your mom still makes my mom look like a saint. That’s saying something as my mother did not intentionally harm. Yours was a very broken person. You’ve done well in spite of her. The ether in the office was so he could molest you while you were under. No question! I’m glad you finally found someone to trust who was trustworthy. As for the doctor asking if you are spiritual, he did not ask if you were religious. A person with a spiritual practice of any kind can usually aid in their own recovery better than one without. Being spiritual has nothing to do with religion. It’s reaching into that field of potential to assist in healing that can make a difference. It’s being open to all possibility. I’m rambling here. I’ll stop now. 🙂 Good luck and I hope he is good.

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    1. Ha! Well, there is a big difference between our mothers, yours didn’t know how to parent, mine did but only cared about herself. I do believe she was mentally ill but she was never diagnosed as such. I’m seeing many of her idiosyncrasies in one of my sisters which makes me believe there was mental illness at play there.

      You know I was always afraid of what would go on when I was knocked out even at such a young age. I am never comfortable when control is taken from me but those doctor visits always produced a great deal of anxiety and stress for me.

      You know if the doctor had asked about my religious affiliation I would have been very put off and probably would have continued to look for a new doctor but to ask if I was spiritual didn’t cause a similar reaction. I guess only time will tell. He said a lot I agreed with. He told me the one thing he wants to see his patients do is to eliminate as many toxins being put into their body. As soon as he said that I felt he was the doctor for me.

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      1. I’m sorry to hear one of your sisters is carrying the same mental illness as your mother. Knowing it’s mental illness leaves the window open for forgiveness. That will let it out of the body. The last comment from your new doctors brought the word “bingo” to mind. We have a winner. 🙂 I don’t think he knows yet who he’s dealing with as you have probably almost no toxins in your life at least food wise. People wise, ??? I think you are pretty careful there too. Have a wonderfilled weekend, Lois and a happy Easter. 🙂

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        1. Yes, it’s sad to see her spiral down. I think her mental health is in some ways worse than my mother’s but at least she isn’t abusive to her kids physically. She won’t see a doctor but we believe she’s developed schizophrenia and has some serious delusions.

          I am sure I have toxins in my body from my youth and of course being overweight there are toxins that are stored in the fat so I still have a ways to go to heal my body but yes, at the moment he said that I thought he was the right doctor for me now.

          Did you have a nice Easter?

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          1. I would think if you had to write a letter of complaint after your breakfast that I had a better day. 😦 Sorry you didn’t get to enjoy your breakfast but looking forward to see what you are sewing.

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  6. I have been putting off finding a new doctor also. Like you, I want to maintain some sort of control and I don’t want pills for symptoms. I had a wonderful doctor in Minnesota for a couple years who was an MD and a naturopath so he took insurance, but he moved to Arizona. Before and since, I’ve never been happy. I chose a clinic and the doctors come and go so fast they never get to know you. And I could never see the one I designated as mine anyway as there was never an appointment available with anyone but the current newest one. Not looking forward to doing it but I need a mammogram so I will have to.
    What a terrible way to grow up, Lois. I am sorry that your mother was not a nurturing and loving mom, and especially that you had to leave home and family and parent yourself at such a young age. You have done wonderfully raising your own children and being a great mom and grandma yourself.

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    1. Cynthia, I feel for you with your situation with the doctors. I don’t like the clinics where you see whoever happens to be available. You almost feel you have to start over and explain who you are and what you need each time.
      Speaking of mammograms have you heard some doctors are speaking out about the dangers, such as Christiane Northrup?

      As for leaving home, it was the best and even then I lucked out. While I was emancipated at age 14 my maternal grandparents knew enough that they choose to help me even though it meant they would lose their daughter and would not be allowed to see their other grandchildren. I paid them rent each month but had a safe place to sleep and get my bearings while I went to high school. Of course it was understood that upon graduation I would need to move out on my own.

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  7. Interesting. Sad, but interesting.
    I never had a family doctor growing up, if necessary we attended a surgery local to wherever we were. When I was pregnant with my first daughter and living in a village, we had a lovely doctor and I stayed with him until we left the area, so about 12 years. He was always interested in everyone and did his best, always whether it was the kids or me, hayfever, migraines or pap tests.
    Since then, we haven’t had a family doctor I could be enthusiastic about. We rarely need one, and I have lived in this town for 10 years now without really bothering about it (20 years in the area) but am aware I ought to! Since I don’t need to produce a dr’s note for anything and am lucky enough not to need medication other than I can provide for myself, there has been no need to register anywhere. In an emergency I could go to the hospital.
    The paediatrician who I had to name when I had my last daughter 20 years ago is a great guy who I really trust and who agreed with my views on things like antibiotics (not to give). He saw her until she was 18. I do have a gynecologist I see annually and have a reasonable relationship with but I don’t trust her skills 100% unfortunately, though she is certainly competent and refers to others where necessary. She and her husband (a GP) are soon retiring so I really have no excuse for not registering with another doctor… First I have to organise a mammogram as I have been contacted by the scan scheme here; that is up at the hospital.
    Writing this, I think I must be crazy – my pets have always had a trusted vet and I don’t have a doctor?! Sheesh!

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    1. No, I don’t think you are crazy to have a veterinarian but not a family doctor being that you can go to the surgery if needed and especially being that you haven’t found a doctor you like in recent years.

      I do find it funny you don’t need to choose a doctor though. Here our insurance companies require a primary family doctor. Our insurance, whether private or medicare (federal for seniors and disabled) or medicaid (state run for the poor) all require that we select one doctor. This is the only doctor we can see without a referral from that doctor to another if our problems call for a specialist. We can go to an Emergency Room, even without insurance but they too ask and expect us to name our Primary doctor. Most here avoid the Emergency rooms because they are so expensive. Where a doctor’s office appointment can run $50-75 (minus any tests or medication prescribed) an Emergency room can cost hundreds of dollars making it cost prohibitive.

      I don’t get mammograms, there are better and safer methods of screening and many doctors are coming out to say a mammogram can damage the breast tissue and cause cancer. The most popular one to advocate against them is Dr. Christiane Northrup who has written a couple of books for women. Here’s just a brief article she wrote on choosing Themography instead and basic breast health. http://www.drnorthrup.com/stop-pinkwashing-start-encouraging-breast-health/ If you are interested she has youtube videos where she goes into much further detail on why we shouldn’t have them. I’m not trying to push you not to have a mammogram just explaining why I don’t have them.

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  8. Man, Lois, what a story. Every time I read a new post of yours I learn more about you. I can see why it’s quite an ordeal with new doctors and appointments having the experience you’ve had.

    While I can’t say I’ve always had the best fit for doctors; here lately, the specialists I’ve been referred to and surgeons I’ve had are caring and have had my best interest at heart. My one cancer surgeon called me at home on a first name basis to thank me personally for the cookies. Another keeps tabs on my thyroid and listens to my wishes even though he’d like to yank it out. Asks me every follow-up (with a laugh knowing my answer) if I’m ready to have it taken out, yet.

    I had an OD over 40 years ago who was my obstetrician for our first child. He kept saying the whole 9 months that hubby would be permitted in the delivery room. When the time came, Hubby was there helping me with Lamaze breathing and the whole nine yards right up to the time to be wheeled into the delivery room. Then, the doctor wouldn’t let him come in. So, I guess there’s all kinds and personalities and personal preferences have a lot to do with it along with egos.

    Happy to hear you’ve settled in to your new digs and have found your PCP. 🙂

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    1. Pat, you have been very fortunate with doctors, what’s your secret? Must be the cookies. 🙂 I do like to stay with one doctor and build that rapport that can only come with time. Adding in a past history of health problems it’s nice when I don’t have to explain everything to a new doctor. Luckily, my health has leveled and I’m rarely sick now that I understand the reasons I was so sick as a child so it’s not that big of a deal today of switching doctors. When I was 18 and living in California my kidney became infected and I was rushed to the ER late at night. Trying to convince the ER doctor that there was only one antibiotic that would help me when it was the strongest one available was a job. Today I no longer have kidney infections and so the risk of losing the kidney is not a pressing concern for me any longer.

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      1. It’s taken a while, but I’m happy to hear you’ve gotten a lot of your health issues sorted out. Maintenance of these bodies is ongoing but sure helps when you have medical support who will listen.

        Have a great weekend, my friend. 🙂

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