Tips for Being Selective about Your Physician, Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of tips for finding a new doc! As I said in part 1, finding a new doc when you have RA sucks, let’s be honest, but it’s a tried and true part of living with arthritis, autoimmune illness, or any chronic illness.

Finding a doctor to treat your RA

We went over two great tips in the first installment, and I promised the rest in another article. So true to my word, here we are! Not much else to say that I didn’t say in the first part, so let’s get right into the rest of the tips.

Beware the gatekeeper

Don’t get stopped by the gatekeeper! Now, I’m sure you are wondering, “What’s a gatekeeper?” Well, every doctor’s office has a person whose singular function in life is to prevent you, the patient, from talking to them, the doctor! You can’t take up the doctor’s valuable time, after all, with such insignificant questions as, “What’s this thing growing out of my head?” and “Is this supposed to turn blue?” and the ever-popular, “I seem to have gone blind; is that normal?”

The gatekeeper will reassure you, bribe you, sweet talk you, and even use some light verbal abuse if necessary, to keep you from the goal, aka, the doctor. Don’t let them block you! Insist on talking to the doctor. The doc wants to call me back? Ok, when exactly? They will call my script in? Ok, I’ll wait on hold until it’s done. Etc. We’ve all been in the situation where you call the doc with just a day or two of meds left, and despite promises of moving heaven and Earth from the answering service, you know, deep down, you won’t get that ring-a-ding on the phone.

Your doctor should be accessible

Your doctor should not be harder to get on the line than a congressman during a wet t-shirt contest! Also, your docs should never go MIA, and their staff shouldn’t treat you like you just interrupted their spa time at the hospital hot springs country club! You are perfectly within your rights to want a doctor that actually calls you back, tweets you back, TikToks you back – whatever! Trying to get your physician on the phone shouldn’t make you break out in hives!

You are allowed to request your medical records

Next, you are legally entitled to your medical records (at least in America). Yes, HIPPA laws say you are legally allowed to request your med recs! Back in the olden days when America Online discs littered the world’s gutters and people knew what a “dial tone” was, doctors got around this by charging you a fee-per-page to make copies of your records. Sometimes it was as much as a quarter a page!

I know that doesn’t sound like a lot to you members of generation meme, but when your medical records have more chapters than a Russian tragedy, it adds up. Also, a quarter a page? What were they printing on? Golden plates made with feathers of a phoenix?

Have an idea about what doctors write in your records

Either way, this is just a good habit to get into as you have no idea what doctors put into your medical records. The doctor who “let me go” when I was young put that I missed a slew of appointments to justify his jettisoning of me, even though my mom religiously took me to every single appointment which I know because I got to miss school!

Doctors should understand that you know your body best

Ok, we are at the last and most important tip. Your doctor should get with the fact that no one knows your body better than you! Yes, the you eating that pop tart, the you who took up knitting, and the you who likes anchovies and pineapple on their pizza (eww)! I have ignored this fact in the past because docs told me not to worry or told me to super worry!

Whatever, I didn’t do the opposite like my gut said, and it turned out I was right. Even before I was diagnosed with lymphoma recently, my brain kept saying for months, “Maybe it’s cancer.” It knew!! The same gut that tells you when that creepy used car salesman is trying to sell you the rust coating you definitely don’t need is the one you need to trust, and your doctor does too.

Doctors should care for your health needs

Well, that about sums up all the tips you will need to help determine if it’s time to and help with the actually doing of breaking up with your doctor. I know it’s a huge pain in the butt to find new docs - trust me, I’ve done it so much I’m thinking of making an app – but it’s a necessary part of autoimmune illness and those wonderful things called co-morbidities.

Rheumatologists or specialists, if they aren’t serving your needs and adding stress to your already crazy life, then set those doctors free, baby! Find a new one that listens and actually works for you! Ok, be safe, and we’ll talk soon!

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