Seeing a New Doctor

Earlier this month, I found myself in a situation I hadn't experienced in a decade: I had to see a new rheumatologist. For the past ten years, I had been seeing the same doctor whom I genuinely liked. He had been with me through thick and thin, guiding me through various medications and helping me deal with my bad ankles, knees, and knuckles. The foundation of a successful doctor-patient relationship, in my opinion, is strong communication and trust.

However, when I arrived for my November appointment, I was met with a surprise. There was a note on the door indicating that my doctor had moved away and that his practice had been acquired by another group of doctors in town. It was a bit shocking, and my initial reaction was a mix of disbelief and feeling slightly betrayed. I couldn't help but think, How could he do this to me? Although I immediately recognized the self-centeredness of this thought, I still couldn't help but feel a tinge of disappointment.

Fortunately, I soon realized that the medical practice I had been visiting would still be open under the new ownership. This gave me some relief, and I decided to give the new doctors a chance. During my first visit with the new rheumatologist earlier this month, I made sure to come prepared, just as I had when I first started seeing my previous doctor. I knew the ins and outs of my condition, the treatments I had undergone, and how my body responded to them.

Over the past twenty years, I have been fortunate to have doctors who not only understand my disease but also acknowledge that I possess valuable knowledge about my own body and condition. They have listened to me, taking my views and opinions into account when devising treatment plans. As I sat down with this new doctor, I wondered if they would uphold this trend. It was a relief to discover that they did. They recognized my extensive experience with the condition, which spanned over two decades, and viewed our doctor-patient relationship as a partnership rather than a one-way street. Thus, I decided to keep them as my doctor, at least for now.

In my opinion, when we see a new doctor, it should be them trying to impress us rather than the other way around. Yet, as patients, we often find ourselves hoping to be selected by the doctor. However, in a perfect world, we would have the freedom to choose our medical providers based on their knowledge, treatment style, and their willingness to listen to us.

Unfortunately, the reality is not perfect. Various practical considerations such as insurance acceptance, location, and availability of new patient slots come into play. Nevertheless, regardless of these external factors, it is crucial for patients to make themselves heard and known. If it means bringing in detailed notes about their treatments and medications or showing their medicine bottles, patients should do whatever it takes to ensure that their voices are heard.

Switching doctors is not always a planned decision. It can be influenced by factors such as relocating, changing insurance, a doctor leaving, or simply the need for a change. However, it is important to remember that when seeing a new healthcare provider, it is essential to communicate all relevant medical, physical, mental, and emotional information to them. The provider needs to pay attention to these aspects of our wellbeing.

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