Tuesday, July 15, 2008

When Is It Time To Clean House?

Honestly, I’m pretty confused at the moment. Shortly before my last major “illness episode,” I requested my medical records. Luckily, what was sent to me ended up including my last emergency appointment with Doctor C.

What’s weird is that what I’m being told by Doctor C doesn’t exactly correspond to what the medical records say. Over e-mail, I was told that my most recent blood work all came back normal. Well, according to my medical records, this isn’t so. I had a positive Anti-Ro, elevated Rheumatoid Factor and high IGG. And the levels that Doctor C reports as “remarkable” are the last three on the sheet and those are all normal.

The report was sent to the wrong PCP. I’ve told Doctor C on three separate occasions that I had changed PCPs, but obviously this means nothing.

It also says that Doctor C “has taken the liberty of scheduling” my next appointment. Actually, and Doctor C and I talked about this during my appointment, I scheduled that appointment three months ago after my last one.

So, what does this all mean? Are these seeming inconsistencies the result of inattention? Forgetfulness?

And if it’s the latter, do I really want someone as my doctor who can’t remember which patient is which?

I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t been thinking about this, because I have been. There has always been something in my relationship with Doctor C that just didn’t work for me. Sometimes I think, I might be sick, but is Doctor C alive?

It’s no surprise that the doctor-patient relationship is a dicey one, especially for those of us who are more than once or twice a year patients. There are definitely vast inequalities in my relationship with Doctor C and it’s no secret who holds the upper hand in the relationship.

After all, what do I know?

So I’m wondering… Is now the time to find a new rheumatologist?

Although I was hesitant to move on from my first PCP, I felt instantly better that I had once I found a new doctor.

And it’s like the other day. It had been a while since I had really cleaned my apartment from top to bottom. But once I had, even if inside me, I was still feeling disordered, at least the outside was no longer in disarray.

Part of me thinks that some of the problem is due to the fact that e-mail and medical records are even more impersonal than the already alienated face-to-face interactions with my rheumatologist.

The other thing is, I’ve seen my records. I’m currently considered a “pleasant” and “interesting” patient. Do I want to get labeled as combative, uncooperative, or worse?

It seems like our relationship follows the same trajectory as my illnesses – two steps forward and one step back. I always seem to be making up for all of the back-stepping I’m doing.

My last appointment with Doctor C, as I’ve posted about before, was a vast improvement from past interactions. But then the e-mail communiqué that Doctor C fervently encourages is curt, frustrating, and often unhelpful.

I consider myself to be a generally nice person and I try to avoid conflict whenever possible. Even though I know I had a reason to drop Doctor B, I still make my appointments with Doctor F on the day I know Doctor B doesn’t work.

Back to Doctor C. I wonder if finding a new doctor will really be as “cleansing” as I want it to be. Or will I just be filled with guilt about another failed relationship?

Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe there’s nothing to these inconsistencies and I just need to learn to let things go. But this is yet another instance where I have no idea what to do.

Plus, as of late I have very little appetite, severe dry mouth from the flexeril, and random attacks where my entire body starts to itch like crazy...


  1. Hi my name is Samantha, I am currently in the process of getting diagonsed for Lupus. I was diagonsed with JRA when I was 6 and went into remission around 13 I am now 19 and the doctors think I have lupus my ANA and rheumtiod factor are both high, and I have some other symptoms to, I just want to appluad you for sharing your story, it's very comforting to hear others stories about this diease. My email is sdeskridge@wichita.edu if you want to talk.

  2. Ah, the search for a good doctor. Often very frustrating. I'm on my fourth neurologist now, and only now am I satisfied.

    We have a quiz on MyMigraineConnection to discover if your doctor is right for you. Granted, it's focused on migraine patients, but I think it may be helpful for you.

    I'll link you to a couple more articles on there, too, since I think they may also help you make this decision.

    Hope that information doesn't overwhelm you. Take a look over it when you have some time.


  3. You have to go with your gut. If you haven't clicked with Doc C and he is by turns rude, unhelpful and just plain wrong, then it absolutely is time for a new doctor.

    I know first hand how hard that can be and it is much easier said than done. But you will not be thought ill of just because you change doctors. And if you are polite and have a conversation along the lines of "I'm confused, when we spoke you said X, Y, Z but the records I have say otherwise. What do you think happened?" without blame or accusations, then you are on your way to answers.

    Best wishes.

  4. Thanks Samantha, MJ, and SE for your helpful comments!