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Conversation of the Week: Breaking Up With A Rheumatologist

Hi everyone! So this week the hot topic is about breaking up with a rheumatologist. This hits home because I've dealt with my fair share of bad relationships on the rheumatologist front, over the last 19 years of living with rheumatoid arthritis. Which eventually led me to the right person for me.

Interestingly enough, through reflection, journaling, and therapy I have realized that your relationship with your provider is not only one of the most important ones you will have/need... but it can be connected to other relationships in your life. I.e. family members, spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends, friends, etcetera.

Let me explain further. Most often, if a relationship with a friend or significant other is toxic or unhealthy that typically leads to a separation of some kind. Or the creation of firm boundaries if it's a family member or someone else where cutting out the connection isn't all that possible. However, the actions you take or don't take in other relationships can trickle into how you handle your relationship with your provider sometimes.

Other times, people get comfortable or can't move forward for multiple legit reasons. The "easier said than done" phrase comes into play here. There have been times when I didn't leave a doctor due to being comfortable, even though my intuition along with signs and synchronicities pointed to a glaring red flag. What would follow would be a harsh lesson in listening to my intuition to find someone else. The red flag and green flag theories of what to look for in a relationship can be applied to your search for a rheumatologist, or to even recognize unhealthy patterns in your own patient-doctor relationships.

Some of the red flags that made me break up with past rheumatologists were as follows:

1. Not feeling heard, seen, or validated

2. Communication styles not matching. I like to ask a lot of questions, and I appreciate a doctor who takes the time to answer/explain things.

3. Bad bedside manner

4. Not being given treatment option choices, when there were many

5. Not matching my ambition/drive to get to a healthier state/or understanding the functional/alternative medicine options I want to do. Or if they did understand, they didn't properly work with my other providers to the best of their ability. Also, being negative with comments such as, "You'll have a long road ahead," (Really? How about you help me not have a long road), or the one time a surgeon (who wasn't my doctor even), told me to stop talking. Abuse and toxicity occur with providers more than we think.

The green flags that led me to find "the one"..are basically the opposite of every red flag I listed above.

*My question(s) and topics for discussion this week:*

-Share your rheumatologist break-up stories with the community.

-What were/are the red flags vs. green flags in your patient-doctor relationship?

-What would your advice be to someone who is needing to leave their provider now to find a new one?

-What changes can be made for patients who can't leave their doctor to find a new one because of insurance issues, financial reasons, and proximity/lack of rheumatologists in their area? What would you say to members of Congress if you had a chance to speak to them?

I am looking forward to hearing what you all have to say!

Cheers to a great start to the week, and hang in there if you're going through a rough patch. <3 Just remember you all deserve the best care and best relationships, no matter which forms they take.


  1. what about craps in the leg foot and ankle and toes with a fuzzy feeling but no pain

    1. Hi . I just really want to commend you for taking charge and advocating for yourself. Thanks for sharing this, as it may serve as an example for many of the power of self-advocacy and expressing one's needs. As Effie said, please feel free, if you like, to keep us posted on how things proceed. Best, Richard ( Team)

    2. Hi . I can't personally speak to this issue, but I know that you are not alone. Our contributor Nan wrote this article on dealing with cramps: Also, RA can cause nerve issues leading to neuropathy in the feet (see: Of course, any new symptoms should be brought to the attention of one's doctor. Hoping you get some answers and relief soon. Best, Richard ( Team)

  2. Oh, I can so relate. I fired my rheumatologist because of toxic behavior. The office manager, said I asked to many questions and they would like to go home at 5pm. Really. 12 years and there monitoring the portal! Wow. I was shocked. I live 2 hours away. How am I suppose to stay in contact when I am building antibodies fast and having reactions. I guess I am suppose to roll over and kick the bucket. My husband is a professional too-if his office staff made the comments they made-they would be spot on fired.

    1. , this would drive me crazy! Like why is she working in a position with people if she doesn't even seem to like people? It makes no sense. And, I was raised that just because you're in a bad mood doesn't mean you take it out on the people around you!

      Best, Erin, Team Member.

    2. Hi . All too often doctor's don't seem to recognize that the staff is a an important part of the practice and a reflection on them. My wife, Kelly, wrote this article on how the attitude of the staff makes a difference: You are not alone and people here get it. Best, Richard ( Team)

  3. It is extremely difficult to find a rheumatologist that both listens to you and doesn't treat you like a child who needs to be scolded when you don't want to immediately do what they say! Keep on keepin' on, DPM

    1. You got that right. They are extremely rare...squared

    2. It is very difficult you're right. The not so great rheumatologists I've found were operating way too much from pride and ego. And sadly, also what they can get out of it. (i.e. never do an infusion in a doctor's office because they actually earn from that). It took me awhile to find providers that help and that took over a decade. Thanks for sharing and keeping it real! -Effie, team member

  4. My first rheumatologist was excellent but had to retire because of serious health issues. Subsequent rheumatologists have exhibited all of the "Red Flags" mentioned in the article or comments. I believed I needed a rheumatologist so I tolerated them. The last one insisted I take medication that I had allergic reactions to in the past; became upset when I asked for reasons for certain procedures. I have given up on rheumatologists and work with my primary care physician who listens and answers questions or refers me to other specialists when necessary.

    1. I also interviewed about four other rheumatologists after the one I mentioned in the previous comment retired. Luckily I landed with a great one, and while they were all good, I went with whom I felt best. I truly thought there would be nobody else but there is. Don't give up the search to find someone! -Effie, team member

    2. wish I was able to do this, unfortunately I am struggling with both pcp dr and rheumatologist

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