by Kimberly Allen R.N.
Going to see the Dr can be very intimidating. They have spent years going to school and training to be able to tell you what’s wrong with you. Most people don’t or won’t question what the Dr says. This fear causes patients to fail to ask questions, and some don’t provide all the information needed because they’re afraid of what the Dr will say, or that they won’t be believed. Remember you are paying for the Drs services, either thru insurance premiums or out of your pocket and many times both. There are many “Dr” sites on the internet and information on anything and everything that you can imagine. Information is power, but it can also be dangerous. It should never take the place of actual Dr visits. There are more sites than I can name out there. Find one you are comfortable with and use it to search for information and use the information to make a list of questions that you want to ask the Dr during your visit. If the Dr is not interested in your questions or blows you off leave and find another. Remember you are paying for this service, especially when it comes to specialists. They charge double sometimes triple the price because they are ‘specialists’ and most specialists have an ego to go with the title.
The first Rhuematologist that I saw came recommended by a friend. On my first visit he asked the usual questions, including family history. When I told him my mother had also been diagnosed with RA he stopped, looked at me and said “ well, you can’t possibly have RA if your mother does. It doesn’t run in families.” I didn’t bother to tell him that my younger brother had also already been diagnosed with RA after that statement. Now, I admit I am not an MD, but one of the first things I learned in nurses training is that nothing in medicine is black and white outside of text books. During the physical exam he noticed several bruises on my legs and began asking questions about them and was someone hitting me. I was not being abused and told him so. I work in a small office with 13 desks and no dividers, I was always bumping into them and I was a very active person. I also mentioned that bruising easily is a symptom of RA which he ignored and continued asking questions as if I hadn’t said anything. One of the things he asked about was if I’d had the hepatitis vaccine. I said no, I had hepatitis when I was 5yr old. Again he told me I was mistaken, and ordered a hepatitis titer to be drawn. Even though I knew that I was going to be looking for a different Dr. when I left that day I also knew I would keep the follow up appt, I wanted to see and hear what he had to say when my hep titer came back positive. When I went to see him later and asked him about the results he looked at me and said “it just means you’ve had the vaccine and don’t remember”. I had all I could do to stay calm and respectful that day. I have numerous friends/colleges that have had the hepatitis vaccine. It’s a series of 3 separate injections given at separate intervals, and they all said you don’t ‘forget’ them. Also, it was 1995 and the vaccine had only been available for approx 10yrs. I left his office that day and never looked back, and anyone that has ever asked me about seeing him I’ve told NO! find someone else.
The next Dr I saw was the complete opposite with a very caring and ‘I’m interested in you’ attitude. There are good Dr’s out there that really care and you don’t necessarily need to live in or near a big city to access good medical care. There are many great Drs in small rural areas all over. You’ll know the good ones because they’re always booked solid and some have waiting lists. Talk to your friends, look on line, and ask questions. Nothing speaks like a referral from other patients.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.