2.02.2009

Looking for Health

Am going on a little rant here. If not on my blog, where can I do it? And I have to apologize in advance because I know that there are so many in this country who don’t have medical insurance and therefore, don’t even have the luxury to go to the doctor when they are sick, let alone having the opportunity for healthy check-ups. And that healthy visit what this is about. At the same time, as someone who pays pretty steep money for our insurance, we don’t take it for granted and we want to stay healthy, so we are working hard to eat right and take our meds the way they were prescribed and take our vitamins and minerals and research the things that people our age are doing to make themselves feel the best they can.

For the most part, I’m pretty healthy. And it’s been a while since I’ve been in for a checkup. I do have an issue that I needed to have checked out and it was beyond time to have my cholesterol checked out. I have a family history of heart disease and high cholesterol and high blood pressure. I also have Raynaud’s Phenonemon or syndrome, I can’t keep track of which.

Anyway, I know that doctors are busy and on a schedule. So I went there with a list. It’s been a while since I last had a checkup. Not a long while. A few years, though. And I had my list of things I wanted to talk with her about. There were some baseline tests I wanted to have done (ala the brilliant Dr. Oz) such as the normal always completed blood pressure (106/78 today) and cholesterol (for which I was fasting). I also wanted to have her check my Vitamin D levels, which according to everything I’ve read, is an easy blood test. She was very resistant to this one.

Vitamin D deficiency is widespread and seems to be related to so many health concerns: osteoporosis, depression, heart disease and stroke, cancer, diabetes, parathyroid problems, immune function — even weight loss.
(read more here)

I wanted to have my C-Reactive Protein checked. It was a little more understandable when she resisted this because she is a newer doctor to me and had not yet received any of my medical history. And since she didn’t spend any time reading through the history we went through on my previous visit or the information I filled out on arrival, she didn’t know that I would have a reason for checking this. After explaining again my family history of high cholesterol and heart disease, and the Raynaud’s, and my own history with high blood pressure and being on and off blood pressure medication and weight loss, she did agree to check this as well.

In other areas of the ‘checkup’ and when I look at the appointment in retrospect, I use the term loosely. Areas in which I score her low:

  • She asked about my migraines and the meds I’m on for them. Again, she didn’t go over my history prior to our discussion so she’s starting from zero. The sum total of our discussion was, “What do you do about them when you get them?” I basically told her that any attempt at medicating them after they start does nothing for me because meds have always stopped working eventually, so I’ve stopped trying. Therefore, I have stopped doing much of anything. She did not ask me how long I’ve been having them. (25 years this summer.) Because she rushed on to the next topic which was totally off topic from migraines and my attention was needed in this other area so I could focus on what I needed to tell her there, I did not get the opportunity to tell her that over the past two of those 25 years, my migraines have changed in their severity and symptoms.
  • She didn’t look in my nose during the ear/nose/throat section (and the ear/throat glance were SO passing that I don’t know how she could have diagnosed anything) and this made me completely forget to talk about what I consider to be a nagging but light sinus infection that has been affecting me off and on for the past couple of months. Because we happened to be talking about other aspects of the ‘checkup’ at the time. This was truly a multi-tasking event.
  • I mentioned some degree of tiredness and she didn’t ask if I was exercising or about my eating. I just thought these were no-brainers from a doctor at a checkup.
  • The one medical thing I went in for I mentioned up front. It was also the number one concern I put on my paperwork. When she filled out the labwork, she didn’t put down anything about a test for this. So she mentioned what she was sending me to the lab for and I asked about it. And she said, “Oh, did you want to be tested for that? Are you having symptoms of that today?” GAH!!! While waiting for the results for that test, she came into my exam room looking for a different patient. Added to all other problems of the day, it was just a little much. But I was grateful that she did, because…
  • In the course of everything that was happening, the discussions that were happening and the ones that were not, there is no place on the form filled out at the beginning of the appointment to tell them that while there, a prescription rewrite is needed as refills were finished the last time I tried to get one at the pharmacy and a visit would be required. So I nabbed her when she mistakenly popped into my room.
  • She did come in herself to give me the results to that test and said they were inconclusive (which tells me something else is causing my problem but she wasn’t going to take the time to discuss this or even think about that possibility with me) and said she would be sending out the sample for culturing. So at least there is that.

As a result, I’m giving strong consideration to doctor shopping again. I don’t think we should settle, do you? I think everyone should insist on medical care that includes a doctor who will take the time to listen to all of their concerns without interruption. I have a list for crying out loud. I’m not here to take up your whole day. I have this very concise list so that I can go very quickly through my concerns and tell you exactly what it is I want to cover and exactly what tests I’d like to see for my baseline numbers. I want to be healthy and I have a pretty good idea of what that constitutes.

Opinions? Am I expecting too much?