One of the most difficult parts of saying good-bye to New York City was saying good-bye to my doctors. Though I hadn’t been seeing them for all that long (two years isn’t a lot in the life of a chronic patient), these were the doctors who went through my diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and the worst of it with me. They were all I had ever known, and it was a strange feeling to walk out of Beth Israel for the last time, given all that had taken place there. I got excellent care at Beth Israel, and I really trusted and respected all of my doctors.
When I decided to take my new job in Baltimore, having access to quality medical care was not just a factor, it was a requirement, and what could be better than moving to the home of Johns Hopkins -- one of the nation’s top medical hospitals and research centers? I felt confident I would be in good hands. Nonetheless, starting a new relationship with a new medical team is daunting and full of insecurities. And since I’m no longer a total RA newbie, I know what I’m looking for in a rheumatologist and what I’m not. I also know my disease much better than I did when I was first diagnosed. I may not be a doctor, but living inside this body for two years has taught me a thing or two about my RA.
So it was with a little bit of apprehension and a lot of vulnerability that I went in search of a new rheumatologist. Luckily for me, I had help in the form of a blog reader who e-mailed me to give me the scoop on the city and the medical scene, and she generously offered to put me in touch with her rheumatologist. I took her up on her offer, and shortly after moving down here, I secured an appointment .
My first clue that things were going to be OK in Baltimore was a massive packet I received in the mail, welcoming me to the rheumatology center. It contained all the details of my appointment, including what to expect, what to bring, how long it would take, and how to get there. It also included pages of forms for me to fill out ahead of time at my own pace about my entire medical history. It was a lot to go through, but I appreciated how comprehensive it was. They didn’t want to know just about my RA history, they wanted all of my history, from medications I had taken as a child and why, to all the supplements and alternative treatments I currently use.
The day of the appointment came, and I left work midday to drive to the Johns Hopkins campus in Bayview. The security guard at the rheumatology center entrance smiled at me and took the time to tell me which floor to go to and which way to turn when the elevator doors opened. Um, that never happened in New York.
The reception area was bustling, but when I signed in, they greeted me warmly as they handed me a few more forms to fill out. After turning them in, it was only a few moments before I was called to come back and get my vitals taken by a nurse who was friendly and focused. A few moments after that, I was escorted to the exam room.