How I’m Building a Relationship With My New Doctor

Due to my extensive health history, I have a larger number of healthcare providers compared to other people my age. I have a neurologist, dermatologist, dentist, gynecologist, and rheumatologist. I have been seeing most of these doctors for many years now and I trust and feel cared for by them. However, finding a primary care doctor within my insurance network and nearby has been a challenge.

Making Room for Trust in the Doctor/Patient Relationship

In late February of this year, I had my initial checkup with my new primary care doctor. The following week, I saw him again to get evaluated for ADHD or to receive a referral if he couldn't do the evaluation. My therapist had already screened me for ADHD and believed the diagnosis was clear. However, I needed a medical doctor to confirm the diagnosis officially. I was nervous to discuss my possible ADHD with my doctor because I was concerned about what he might think. We had only met once before, and I didn't want to come across as someone seeking prescription drugs.

My worries were not unfounded, as I have dealt with chronic pain for most of my life and have been prescribed various controlled substances. Being a health writer and patient advocate, I understand the need for doctors and pharmacists to be cautious about potential drug-seeking behavior. I believe in giving patients access to treatments that benefit them, but I also recognize the importance of doctors ensuring that prescriptions are necessary.

All of these thoughts crossed my mind as I waited for Dr. S. to enter the exam room in March. During the evaluation, he maintained a neutral expression and didn't reveal his thoughts. After confirming my ADHD diagnosis, he shared that he also has ADHD. We discussed different treatment options, including medication, lifestyle changes, and behavioral strategies. I left with a prescription for a one-month supply of a stimulant.

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Finding the right ADHD medication can be a lengthy process, and many of them are classified as controlled substances. As a result, I have had regular checkups with my doctor over the past few months. I have learned the importance of maximizing the time spent with my doctor, especially since my ADHD makes me prone to forgetting important concerns if I don't write them down. I make it a point to bring notes about my health and things I want to discuss with my doctor to every appointment. I encourage others to do the same. By jotting down notes on your phone or in a notebook about your ADHD-related concerns as they arise, you will be less anxious about forgetting something important during the appointment.

The night before each appointment, review all the notes you have taken since your last visit and decide which issues you would like to address. By bringing out your notes, you show the doctor that you are actively involved in your treatment. Additionally, the notes might help the doctor identify patterns that you may not have noticed.

During my most recent appointment in July, I expressed my frustration with the side effects of my current medication. Dr. S. discussed alternative options we could try, and I finally admitted my fear that trying different medications might make him think I am seeking drugs. This confession led to an open and honest conversation that cleared the air. Over the past six months, Dr. S. and I have developed a good rapport, and our conversation during this visit further solidified my gratitude for having him as my doctor.