For most people the only time they see a doctor is when they get sick. Sometimes a more serious medical need will come up and you need to see a specialist to get it treated. Once treated they can move on; going back to the now and then trips to the doctor. Maybe getting a check up once a year, but beyond that, their health care needs are met.
When you get diagnosed with a serious or chronic health condition, your health care needs become more frequent and the need to see a specialist happens every 3-6 months. You need to have your condition monitored and regularly see a doctor.
Finding the right doctor is important, really with a general physician too, but the need to find quality heath care is important when you have a chronic or serious illness. I have been fortunate that my mother was a nurse, and I had a built in medical advocate to help me find the doctor that was right for me. It is never easy. I have had doctors I really liked that couldn’t help me and I had to leave and see someone else to help manage my condition. I have also left doctors to get a 2nd (or sometimes 3rd or 4th) opinion after either years of no change or due to the doctor doing the bare minimum for me before recommending I check out somewhere like MAYO clinic.
I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and migraines when I was 18, and with a bleeding disorder in my early teens. In the over 20 years I have had my bleeding disorder it took me ending up in the ER with severe bleeding after a surgery before I found a hematologist who took me seriously. Mostly because medical science has yet to catch up with all the kinds of bleeding disorders people can have. In the 18 years I have had migraines and fibromyalgia it has taken me the last few years to find doctors who think outside of the box, and have helped me find a treatment plan that works. I am one of those cases where, except for my migraines, my conditions are somewhat mysteries yet. There isn’t a clear cut way to treat them.
With all my experiences I have picked up a few tips on finding the right doctor for you
Find a Specialist:
The first person you see when you first get a diagnosis maybe your general physician. They will either have tests back that show what you have, or be unsure (because the test ruled out a few things). They refer you on to a specialist in the area of what matches your symptoms. Either going with a referral from your GP or ask around if anyone knows of a good doctor in the area you need. Remember that you may get a referral to a doctor your friend loves, but you find the doctor too abrupt or don’t have a good chemistry with them. I have referred people on to doctors who treat me and I love; and they are less than thrilled after the first visit. It is important you feel confident in your doctor. Especially if they are treating you for a serious, possibly life threatening condition. One of the reasons I have seen so many hematologists is because of a few ER bleeding episodes. I want to be sure I have a doctor that will do whatever they can to make sure I don’t bleed like that ever again, and if I do they will save my life.
Don’t Feel Bad Getting a Second Opinion:
After meeting with a new doctor a few times you may feel like something isn’t working. Whether it be a bad bedside manner, you feel the doctor is brushing off your concerns, or any of the other hundred reasons you may leave an appointment feeling more scared than secure. Don’t ever feel bad getting a second opinion. I have had doctors that treated me for years that I felt I needed to get another opinion. I didn’t feel the same amount of care was being given as when I first started seeing them. I also have doctors I have seen for a decade because I know they have my best interests in mind when treating me.
Get An Advocate:
When newly diagnosed with something, it can be overwhelming. If it feels like too much for you to take on have someone, like your spouse, come with you. Or find a family member or friend who is willing to go through the beginning stages (or the whole journey) with you. I had my mom, who was a nurse, in the beginning of my journey. It helps tremendously if you know someone you trust with your private medical information who has a background in some sort of medical career. They will catch things you may not. Even without a background in medicine, bringing a friend or family member along to the first few appointments helps. They can help you remember things you want to ask or have questions you didn’t think to ask. Someone who can call on your behalf if you are too ill to call yourself. Sometimes hospitals and clinics offer advocate services. If your doctor’s office does, they are required to keep your medical information private if you don’t have someone in your life to help you.
Making sure you have a good doctor can sometimes be life or death. I have gone to doctors who caught things other doctors missed with for years. I have also gone to doctors that dismissed my concerns or acted like I was crazy. You are in control of your health care and you have the power to take the reins in getting the best care you can. Whether you have been at it for years like me, or are newly diagnosed there is a right doctor out there for you.