Doctors are wonderful.
Not everyone will agree with me on this, but that’s ok, not everyone has the same doctors as me. And even more interestingly, not every knows they don’t have to just take the first doctor / haematologist / rheumatologist / immunologist that comes their way.
My doctors are often more caring, interested and non judgemental about my medical status than some of my friends. My doctors are happy for me to email them sometime and I have their mobile numbers in my phone. My doctors give me less shit about drinking wine than some of my family does, Bennett?
My doctors have been there, even long distance, for all my freak outs but not all doctors are great. Why do I have such great doctors? It’s not luck. I found them. I actively went about finding the best doctors available, making sure they were the right ones for me. In doing so, I had to break up with my old ones.
You don’t always have to take the first doctor that see’s you. Don’t be fooled into believing how lucky you are to even be seen a doctor, especially in the very first stages of your illness. It can be a seductive time, where you fall into the arms of the first person to help you, as you look for answers from whoever is closest to you at the time. During the fear and confusion of being diagnosed with ITP, it can be such an utter relief to find a professional willing and able to help you through the chaos. Accept this help, that is fine. But like any long term relationship, ten years later the honey moon period may be over and you might start thinking – I don’t really like you, actually.
When the crazy time is over, and things start to settle down, it’s important to have a think about how you want to be treated and what you might need from your doctor to make that happen. It might be a willingness to incorporate more alternative and complimentary medicines. Perhaps you would like a stronger emphasis on lifestyle treatments instead of pharmaceuticals. You might want your doctor to treat your ITP child with more autonomy. Personally, I wanted to be treated more holistically. I wanted my Haematologist to consider everything else happening in my body and mind, not just my blood count. I wanted a haematologist who asked me where I worked, weather I got along with my family and was interested in talking to me about juice, diet and nutrition.
At the moment, I am currently seeing a haematologist who is more interested in me than I am! It is wonderful. My last appointment with her was almost an hour. She is interested in blood and gets excited about things.
Reasons to change doctors.
- Even if they are a very good doctor, it is important to have one that you like and that also likes you.
- Change doctors if you think, they think, you are stupid.
- You don’t agree with your doctor on an approach to care.
- Your personalities clash and you find it difficult to be honest and relax with them.
- You don’t feel they are listening to you.
- They are never available.
- You are moving away.
- They are retiring.
- You just don’t click.
Whatever your reason for breaking up with your doctor is fine.
So how do you do it?
Firstly – Don’t just stop going to appointments. Doctors are people too, and they deserve closure. When I went AWOL from my haematologist’s offices in Sydney, she become quite worried about me. I had phone calls from her after hours wondering if everything was ok. And I felt terrible. Don’t just disappear.
Secondly – Say Thank You. Either on a card or in person during your final appointment. You can never say thank you enough. If you are changing doctors because you were not happy with the service, then that is ok, still say thanks for all the things they might have done right, even if it was simply showing how not to do things.
You might think there is nothing to be thankful for. When I was younger, a doctor of mine went to jail for malpractice. I felt so betrayed and vulnerable. I became very angry until I realised that that doctor helped me to become be far more discerning with my doctors in the future. I had been too complacent and had not questioned them enough. Now I am more assertive, aware and critical of the care I receive. I am thankful for that.
Thirdly – Don’t say bad things about your doctor to other doctors. (accept maybe if they are in jail) They don’t like it, even if everything you are saying is true. The medical world is incredibly small. Never say bad things about your old doctor to your new one. They all know each other, particularly the specialist. The Haematologists in Australian capital cities all know each other by there first name -I saw it! They go on junkets together and drink together at conferences in Florida.
Finalise Everything. Have a final appointment. Get a referral for a new doctor if you don’t already have one, ask for copies of any records you will need. Ask your old doctor questions about where you are up to, and get a written summary to take to your new doctor.
If you have any complaints about your old doctor, consider talking to another doctor first. After being very upset with the care I received from a radiology department, I spoke to my current GP about it all before complaining. She helped me to talk through my disappointment and formulate a complaint that would actually benefit other patients and create change.
Constructive criticism, when delivered properly, has the power to change the way patients and doctors work together in the whole community.
She helped me to figure out what I wanted to get out of the complaint (which was that I never wanted that to happen to any one else ever again – And – I wanted to yell my disgust really loudly in the woman’s face!!) I ended up just doing the first one. Complaints can be excellent when handled in the right way.
The important thing to remember is that people change Doctors all the time. So don’t worry. You have the right to see a doctor or Haematologist that you are 100 percent comfortable with.
Changing Doctors while Pregnant.
This is a tricky time to break up with your doctor, as the first doctor you see to confirm your pregnancy will probably immediately act as primary care giver. Ideally, because of your ITP or other Autoimmune Disorder, you would already have a doctor that you know and like. When looking for a doctor in general, I apply this rule – Would you be happy for this doctor to deliver your baby? If the answer is no then they should not be your doctor in the first place.
For women with ITP, it is recommended that you look for a doctor long before you are trying to conceive for children. That way your doctor will already have all your records and will know you well enough to know what you would like during your pregnancy. They may have already set you up with a high risk pregnancy consultant – which would be great too.
But don’t worry. It is never too late to change. Don’t let a doctor freak you into staying! In fact, it might be more important now than ever before to change you doctor and find another.
Changing Doctors in a Rural Town.
What choice is there in a country town? When I moved from Sydney to the Far South Coast of New South Wales I was not sure how many haematologists I would be able to choose from. I was certain there would be none. I thought that if was lucky enough to see one haematologist I would be happy and I thought I could just make do with whoever.
My Haematologist in Sydney was not so relaxed. She was very clear that having a terrible haematologist was akin to having no haematologist and told me I could be cared for by my GP and she would consult with her long distance until there was another option.
Yes! GP’s can care for you ITP if they wish.