Say What? Hiring a doctor? Yup, that’s what I said. Did you know that many doctors seem to forget that we in effect “hire” them for their services? They fit the definition of an employee, or sub contractor even because we pay them for their time and services rendered. So, why bring this up? Let me explain…
When you have a chronic disease, like lupus, you become well versed in medical terminology, procedures, testing, and of course medications. It is par for the course due, in part, to the fact that depending on your disease course you will be under the care of different doctors for different things that can arise.
For example, I see my family practitioner for everyday things like colds and flu. I see my rheumatologist for my joint pain and other “lupus” related things. I see my neurologist for the brain associated effects, like periphreal neuropathy and migraines. I have also seen orthopedic surgeons, general surgeons and a host of ER doctors. I also see a therapist, because I am depressed. Go figure.
In the course of this disease, it is important for all the doctors that you see to share their information with each other so they can all stay on the same page as it were. Otherwise, you may find that medications and or treatments may be harmful because one does not know what the other has prescribed.
Here is where the hiring comes in. You need to see a family doctor. If the one you currently see feels the need to belittle you or act as if your disease is not real, then fire them and find one who listens and is proactive. Same goes for all the other doctors you may see. I personally have fired a few doctors in my time. Right now I am awaiting an appointment with a new neurologist for example, because my last one did a slew of tests and whenever I tried to get in to see him to discuss the results, there was always some excuse for having to reschedule my appointments. So, I got a new one and I hope he is a good one. Time will tell.
If you learn as much as possible about your condition, then you are a well informed consumer and are able to discern whether or not your particular doctor is right for you. If your doctor does not like the fact that you are well informed, then find another one who does. This is YOUR body, YOUR disease, and YOUR treatment. Not the doctor’s. Knowledge is power. A good clinician will not only encourage you to become informed but will welcome any questions you may have about a certain treatment or procedure or medication without making you feel stupid. Yes, some doctors seem to like the POWER, but YOU are the one paying them so if you are not comfortable, find another one.
When dealing with a chronic disease it is important to remember that YOU are the most important player in this game. Your team consists of your doctors, nurses, support groups, therapists, friends and family. Making sure they all share their information is one of the most important things you need to do in your managed care of your disease. It is vital to stay on top of it, even if it means the occassional phone call or appointment to discuss the finer points of your treatment.
Ultimately you are in control of your care. Being a well informed patient has never been more important than now, when you are dealing with a chronic, non-curable disease. Stand up and be assertive for your own health and well being. No one knows how you feel more that YOU. So if that doctor acts like it is all in your head (and yes, I had a few who mentioned it must be because I was a woman looking for attention) then RUN out of that office and find one who listens and respects your symptoms and who wants to find out why! I did and now I have a pretty good team assembled. It is up to you to take care of this.