I see 16 different doctors at least once a year. I can hear you gasp as I type that number, you might even think I am a hypochondriac for having so many doctors. I know I understand what you are thinking and frankly if all I knew about a person was that they saw so many doctors I would be saying the same thing. But both of us would be a bit wrong, because there is a rest of the story. So let me run down the reasons, and maybe things will be a little clearer.
First, I do have type 1 diabetes. That carries with it four doctors. Of course the endocrinologist heads the list, his CDE who is a physician’s assistant, the podiatrist who manages my messed up feet and of course I have to add the preventative care nephrologist who keeps track of my kidney function. I have two pulmonologists, one for sleep apnea and one for shortness of breath, this is a specialization issue. Then of course I have the doctors who service my Rheumatoid arthritis. This is an odd lot of course, I have the Rheumatologist, two neurologists one for neuropathy and one for RA related pain (again specialization), then of course I have an orthopedist (hip replacement 2012).
I have a nice group associated with my heart. I have the standard Cardiologist, a Thoracic surgeon, and a specialist who likes to place odd things in my veins and arteries to stop or promote clotting. This group arrived on the scene following the discovery of a genetic heart issue.
Then I have something called ankylosing spondylitis, that takes a spine doctor and two physical therapists (again specializations) and of course a Physician’s assistant. I have a strange (likely autoimmune disorder) skin thing. That requires a dermatologist and of course his Physicians Assistant. Then I am happy to report the various other typical doctors like the Eye doctor, the Primary Care Doctor, the one who does colonoscopies and a group that does other things also at that end. I have a strange urologist and some I have likely forgotten.
So what is my point in making this list? Well the thing is I have become a bit of an expert on the issue of dealing with doctors. Goodness knows I see a bunch. So I have recently started to try and understand why I will see a doctor and why I stay with them. The reasons are different for each one.
I will see a doctor just about any time a doctor says I need to see a doctor. I know that sounds confusing but if a doctor writes that doctors name on the paper and I am pretty much on my way to get an answer to my newest issue. But I only keep a doctor if they interest me. Here is a sampling of those that currently interest me:
1. The warrior – I love these doctors. They describe all problems in terms of war or football or Avon. They talk about territory, invasions, knocking out the enemy, setting up distributorships and bombing the enemy. Yes I really did have an Avon approach. They talked of new unassigned neighborhoods and setting up distributorships to keep an eye on whatever disease they are treating.
2. The lover- They talk about treatment as if my body could use some good old fashion attention. You know your (heart/immune system/ kidneys) whatever is just crying out for some attention. If we keep up the drug treatment we will eventually get to the bottom of what we are dealing with.
3. The clinician – This is my least favorite and I tend to dislike these doctors so I seldom keep them very long. They say things like in my (judgment, experience, or analysis) we have need to whatever.
4. The “you” doctor – Almost as (bad, ridiculous, or mean) as the clinician. The never say we, it’s always you. You should, you need, you must, I am like why am I here, I came to you for advice and help.
5. The funny one - I like this one best of all. The want to crack a joke even as they talk about removing your hip. I have looked at things and you really don’t need a right hip, left jaw, second kidney. No one ever asks what the kidney, liver, adenoids, you name have to say. They love taking things out. They are special.
So my advice with doctors is to use them for their expertise, but never keep one long term if you cannot laugh with them or at them. It is true doctors are just people, but if they do not know what a flat tire looks like, run. Where I live I have lots of choices, but I never forget they are my service provider. Also try not to let them mix metaphors. I say please stay in one genre’ of silliness. I can only take one at a time in one doctor. Finally, be sure and demand that the doctors be competent. For me competent and fun is the best mix. As a college professor once said, why do something, if you are not having a good time stop?
Now I need to run. I have to be on my way so I can get my retina mapped, before that crazy diabetes set up shop and a bombing campaign needs to happen. After all mapping the landscape is the only way to see if the enemy shows up and attacks my retina. Besides, I have this new machine, and it is fantastic. We will not want to lob shells into the neighborhood unless we know what we are attacking. Oh well we may need to set up a new territory.