Finding a doctor, let alone finding the right doctor, can be challenging.
It's almost like dating. Sometimes you have to try out several doctors before you find "the one".
It's incredibly important that whoever this person is, they take your concerns seriously, and they both listen to and hear you.
My last rheumatologist would shut me down every time I asked about what it would look like for me to get pregnant. His response always was that we would talk about it when it wasn't hypothetical anymore.
Well, at my age and with the person that I'm with, it didn't feel hypothetical to me. Granted, I wasn't planning on getting pregnant tomorrow, but I wanted to feel prepared for what lay ahead, and this particular rheumatologist would never entertain that reality.
Maybe that's because he was a forty- to fifty-something man, and I was a twenty-something woman.
We were at odds with each other in the beginning about other things, as well. One of my rheumatologist's solutions for treating my RA was to have me drop out of school and move back home with my parents. I had insurance through school, and my parents didn't have health insurance at the time. I explained to him why, for many reasons, that was a very unlikely scenario.
While we made it over that hump, one thing to consider is whether your doctor understands why you are noncompliant, if you ever are. For me, I hated being on prednisone a million percent. And my doctor knew that. For me, gaining weight and acne messed with my self-image and self-esteem enough that it wasn't worth the reward of a little pain relief.
My doctor and I finally came to an agreement that with the way my body responded to prednisone, I could take it on an 'as needed' basis. But that compromise was something that it took us a long time to iron out.
Overall, I did like my rheumatologist. We had built a good rapport, but it took many years for that to happen. And I felt somewhat attached to him. He was the person that diagnosed me, and it felt like we were on this illness journey together.
Ultimately, however, I moved out of state and had to find another rheumatologist, who I firmly believe listens to me and hears me. She is interested in, not just how I feel today, but what the future holds and how best to approach it. She has even mentioned things about pregnancy, since I mentioned it to her once.
If you're lucky enough to find someone that you really like, and you aren't in the position of having to relocate, you could be with your rheumatologist for a long time, depending on your age and their age. In fact, your relationship with your doctor could be longer than most other relationships in your life. It's sad, but true.
I spent five years with my previous rheumatologist, and that was the longest relationship I had, had with a man who wasn't my father.
In my opinion, if you have a doctor that you can be serious with, when needed, and crack jokes with along the way, that's the sign that you're with the right person.
Ultimately, your relationship with your doctor should be mutual. It should not be one-sided. You should feel like you have some measure of control over your care and your health, and your doctor should not feel like a stranger to you, or you to them, any time you have an appointment.
If you don't feel you can be open and honest with your doctor, for any reason, it's probably time to look for someone new. **You don't want to feel belittled by your doctor. ** You want to feel confident in your care and empowered to follow your treatment plan.
Finding the right doctor could be one of the best things you ever do for yourself.
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