After Years, I Finally Saw a Doctor
A while ago, I wrote an article explaining why I haven’t seen a doctor in a long time. In fact, it’s been over four years since I’ve gotten even a simple check-up. Well recently, I finally saw a new doctor, and I want to share with you all my experience going back.
The reason that forced me to see a doctor was because I was starting to feel scared that what I am dealing with is a lot more serious than IBS. I guess the constant pain in my stomach is making me a bit paranoid, which IBS can make you feel that way sometimes – where the flare ups are too powerful and so consistent that it scares you into thinking that it’s a lot worse than it possibly is. Nonetheless, when I called my new primary care physician (PCP) to make an appointment, fortunately she was able to see me the following day, which gave me a little peace of mind for the rest of that day. Side note: my PCP is someone I never met before this recent appointment because she was automatically assigned to me when I applied for a new health insurance just a few months ago. As of submitting this story, I have only met her once so far.
My experience at the doctor's office
When I first get to the doctor’s office, the person at the front desk told me to fill out a few medical forms describing any conditions I may have and giving them consent to bill me for their services, as usual. When I finished filling those forms out, I proceeded to wait in a very small waiting area for the doctor to call me in to her office. After years of not seeing one, I must’ve forgotten how long it usually takes to see a doctor because I was waiting for almost a half an hour to finally meet her. This was my usual experience in the past when I would see a doctor regularly, so I wasn’t too surprised, but still a bit upset. I never understood scheduling an appointment for a specific time just to have the patient wait in pain and concern. In my experience, doctors hardly honor the time scheduled and usually show up late without remorse. Not the best first impression mainly because it automatically made me feel like she didn’t take my time and condition seriously.
So, after walking out the previous patient she was evaluating, the doctor finally calls me into her office. At first, she was very nice and courteous. Then, after asking a few basic questions about my health, she started to ask me personal questions about my career, the financial aspect of it, and even asked about my wife’s career and how much money she made. These questions were rubbing me the wrong way because I didn’t see how any of these questions had anything to do with my health. Nonetheless, I answered anyway, as basic as possible, for sake of being polite and not creating tension in the room.
As time went on, she started to show more and more signs of a doctor who doesn’t really listen to the patient, which is something I’m very familiar with due to my past experiences. The main sign that usually alerts me is when a doctor interrupts me during my explanation and quickly jumps to conclusions. For instance, as I was explaining to her how debilitating my condition is for me, within at least 30 seconds she interrupted my story and made it a point to judge how fine I was by the way I looked. Can you imagine how silly and offensive that sounds to someone who suffers from an invisible illness daily? How can you tell ME how I feel by the way I look? That told me she lacked knowledge on how invisible illnesses actually affect a person and their quality of life. She was also starting to remind me of reasons why I stayed away from the doctor’s office for so long. Of course, I had to correct her on how I really felt at the time and what I usually deal with on a daily basis, just so I can feel better about shutting down her offensive conclusions. Since the appointment was just the first consultation, it ended pretty quickly with her sending me off to get some basic lab work done. I never got an answer to the real reason why I was there, which was the constant, annoying pain in my stomach. We scheduled a follow-up appointment next month to see the lab results, and I guess we’ll go from there.
Not all doctors are the same
The reasons why I stayed away from seeing a PCP for a few years are because I felt they lacked true listening-skills, compassion, and empathy. However, as I got older and more mature I realized that maybe I had too high of expectations of doctors and the rest of the medical community. I always expected them to be over-caring people who would always have every human’s best interest at heart – almost like you would expect a parent to with their child, but boy was I wrong. That’sjust not realistic, Hess. Not every doctor is the same, and not every single one will have a certain level of care that is considered nurturing. Regardless, what I need most of all, is for doctors, and other medical professionals, to listen and understand that how a person looks doesn’t determine how well they feel.
Even though I was a little irritated by this encounter, I have still learned to have a different mindset when I go to the doctor’s office. My goal from now on is to go to my doctor and get answers to questions that I can’t figure out on my own, such as results from lab tests or CT scans, and other procedures that I cannot perform on myself. Other than that, I should be taking the rest of my health into my own hands and doing the best that I can to make sure I lead a happy and healthy life without much (or any) help from a doctor. I’m not sure how to feel about this particular doctor just yet, but I know that for now I am only seeing her to get what I want and need. Other than that, I’m not going to expect much else and I will only see her on an as needed basis.
Do you have a good understanding of what triggers your flares?