And now I think it’s time for a new doctor

I’m sick. I’ve been sick for about three weeks. Not major major–I’ve only missed a day of work–but it’s irritating. And it’s been three weeks. A cold lasts about 10 days.

So I asked my wife to see if I could get in with her doctor. I don’t like my doctor very much. But my wife’s doctor isn’t accepting new patients until February. No political comments, please–I couldn’t find another doctor accepting patients in a reasonable time when Clinton or Bush were president either.

Last night, my throat started bothering me worse. My wife pulled off a miracle and got me an appointment with my doctor the same day, at 4:15.

So I left work at 3:30 to make it back to the doctor’s office–the office is really close to where I live, but a long way from where I work–where they announced that since I hadn’t been to the doctor since 2004, I was a new patient and they wouldn’t be able to see me that day because they don’t see new patients that late in the day.

I didn’t realize it had been that long. But in all honesty, I don’t get sick very often, and he doesn’t exactly encourage me to come back. I can’t remember a time I went to see him that he didn’t put me on Allegra, regardless of what’s going on. So I can go to the doctor, pay my copay, then go buy some Allegra, or I can just buy some Allegra and save the copay. Or, better yet, skip the copay and the Allegra, drink lots of fluids, get extra sleep, and get better faster while my body continues to operate the way God designed it to operate.

One year, I just went to urgent care when I got sick. It cost $50, but that’s about what a copay and Allegra cost. The doctor put me on an antibiotic–I’d been sick about a month that time–and, wonder of wonders, I got better!

“I don’t get sick very often,” I said to the receptionist. “So you’re punishing me for being healthy.”

“We’re not punishing you for being healthy. You’re a new patient, so we have to do more than just give you a prescription.”

“Oh. So you’re making me a new patient because I’m healthy.”

Then the doctor came out. “Can I help you?” I said.

“I only come to the doctor when I need help,” I said.

He repeated the same thing his receptionist said. I said if I’m going to be a new patient anyway, I might as well just go find another doctor.

He asked if I was willing to do his new-patient routine. I said I needed help.

So I got to see the doctor.

He did an abbreviated physical, and asked about my symptoms and lectured me. He asked how I know I’m healthy. How do I know I don’t have diabetes? How do I know I don’t have cancer? Plus a litany of other things.

Well, I’m in my late 30s. I weigh 148 pounds. Women ask me for dieting advice. I drink two cups of coffee per day. I’ve never smoked a cigarette. I haven’t had a drink other than communion wine since sometime in 2003. I rarely use up my sick days at work. I had some back problems for a while, and arm troubles, but a chiropractor fixed all that. It’s been a full year since I’ve seen her too.

He lectured me about cholesterol and heart attacks, and he had a point, that I probably ought to get that checked. Though the last time I had it checked, the doctor was amazed how low my cholesterol was. Two things have changed since then. I’m older now, which might be bad, and I eat less pizza now, which is good.

One thing I didn’t tell him is that I discussed my family history with a very experienced psychologist who verified I don’t breathe properly, and he says that our breathing patterns can affect the heart, either for better or worse. We can only guess that my father and his forefathers might have breathed worse, but at least he had an answer other than “something hereditary we don’t know about.”

I also didn’t like his insinuating that I need to lose weight. I’ve been told my whole life I needed to gain a little weight. Would I rather weigh 143 pounds than 148? Probably. And that might very well happen once the weather gets warmer, I can walk every night, and the lawn needs to be mowed every week.

And all the while, he spoke to me in a tone that was rather condescending. I’m not a doctor, but I’m an intelligent person. I’ve never struggled to understand anything a doctor or dentist has tried to tell me.

I complained about my cough and my sore throat. I said I ran a fever at the beginning, but he said it’s allergies and he told me to get some–wait for it–Allegra. I’m sure if I came in and was bleeding, he’d give me Allegra. He also gave me some nose spray with a steroid in them, in case it’s not allergies. And he sent me off for bloodwork. If I have strep, he’ll get me an antibiotic, but he’s already made up his mind that I don’t have strep.

I think I wish I’d gone to urgent care again.

Maybe my doctor isn’t punishing me for being healthy, but obviously I’m a bad customer.

3 thoughts on “And now I think it’s time for a new doctor

  • December 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm
    Permalink

    Change docs.

    The term “unhealthy relationship” comes to mind (in several meanings).

    Health care can/should be a partnership.

    (Long version available, but I think you heard it years back!)

  • December 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm
    Permalink

    Dave,
    There has been two major I.Q. studies on today’s Doctors. One showed an average I.Q. of 125 and the other was 135. They seem to have retained their God Complex but is unwarranted.
    The future of medicine is in the hands of politicians that don’t read what they vote on. That is frightening but not as frightening as Medicare funding derived from the stock market.
    When I go to a new doctor, I ask the Doctor where he or she was born and where they were educated. Doctors from foreign countries have more empathy for poor patients.
    Try one of them funny talking Doctors. You might like him or her.

  • December 22, 2011 at 8:08 am
    Permalink

    The problem is that it’s no longer a physician/patient relationship. The insurance companies and the politicians are a part of that relationship, too. Twenty years ago, David, your father was very vocal about his wish for politicians and insurance companies to leave him alone and let him do what he spent years training to do–take care of his patients. He was very worried about where health care was headed. He often wished to be “out of it” but said the only way out was for him to die. So he did. I suspect the doc you saw was worried–if something happened to you, would your family sue him for not taking care of his patient? Would he be held liable for not reminding you to come in? Stranger malpractice suits have been filed. And, besides, how’s he going to pay his malpractice premiums if you only come in once every few years?

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