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My Last Rheumatologist Appointment in Florida

Unless you have RA — or another chronic illness — you probably won't understand this. But in July, I had my last appointment with my rheumatologist in Florida. This rheumatologist has been there with me since the beginning, meaning I have worked with this doctor since I was diagnosed all the way back in 2018.

That's over 5 years of trust, work, and many, many phone calls about injections, insurance woes, and more. It's hard to think that with moving, so many things can change, and if I'm being honest, I feel somewhat at a loss in leaving my rheumatologist.

I was taken aback by how sad I was

For some context, I made the big move to Wisconsin in August 2023 to pursue another grad degree. I was very excited about the move because I'd be leaving Florida for the first time in close to 8 years, but I hadn't realized the extent of the changes that would occur with the move. That's why, when I went to my last rheumatologist appointment, I was taken aback at how sad I was, how much anxiety I would feel in losing my rheumatologist.

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But why do I feel like this is a loss? Well, my rheumatologist has helped me so much in my journey through being diagnosed when I was 21. He was there when I was scared at the potential loss my body could experience in the wake of being diagnosed with RA. He was there for me to guide me onto biologics and through my trepidations about being on those meds, especially since they are immunomodulators and can cause a variety of side effects. With his help, I was able to start feeling better.

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Worries that come along with changing rheumatologists

There is also a feeling now of who will my new rheumatologist be? What will they be like? Will they be able to help me like my previous rheumatologist did? Having RA means you are sharing extremely sensitive information, and it's difficult to reshare those experiences again with someone else —thinking about going through that again feels exhausting and, though necessary, I am not looking forward to going through that experience again.

Then, you have to think about how insurance will change with both the move and with a new rheumatologist. I will have an entirely new insurance in Wisconsin, which means I have to go through the process of changing my insurance with Humira — the drug I am on — and with my new rheumatologist. It was easier when I had all insurance issues figured out with my current provider and current insurance — I guess that is a given. But I remember trying to get Humira approved through my first insurance, with all of the prior authorizations and phone calls, and I'm hoping that that experience will not be replicated.

A change in perspective might be a good thing

Sigh. I have to trust that my new rheumatologist will be there to support me just as my current provider has; though it's scary to have a new provider, perhaps a change in perspective might be a good thing.

I think what this really highlights is how tenuous things can be with RA and how much change accompanies having a chronic illness like RA — in all aspects and facets of life. Who knew that leaving a doctor could be so emotionally charged?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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