Switching Doctors When You Want Better Care
I’d had the same family doctor for 12 years. She was great to me for a long time, but as I wrote about recently, she gaslit me about my fatigue. We’d had one incident before this where I considered switching, she refused to refer me to a new rheumatologist when I asked for better care. In this case, it was 2 strikes, you’re out.
I also switched rheumatologists recently. In his case, he just wasn’t giving me the proper care that I needed. It was next to impossible to get a hold of him, even in an emergency. He ignored me constantly and kept me on a drug that I begged to get off of. His receptionist also hung up on me a few times. It was getting frustrating and I was tired of it.
What the process was like
As I mentioned, I switched both my family doctor and rheumatologist. At first, I didn’t even know where to start. It felt like such a daunting job. I took to Google to find new family doctors accepting patients in my area. I also asked around with some friends, and people on Instagram if they had any recommendations.
After I got a few names of some doctors was interested in, I called their offices. As a person with pretty bad social anxiety, I wasn’t the most excited to make a bunch of phone calls, but I knew I needed to do this.
Most of the doctors that were recommended to me by friends and people on Instagram weren’t accepting patients, which was hard, because they were the doctors I had other peoples’ opinions on. I called some offices around my area that I knew were accepting patients, and I made an appointment with one doctor that I felt might be a good fit.
In terms of searching for a new rheumatologist, I did the same thing as I did for family doctors. I got others’ opinions and saw some names online, and happened to pick a doctor in Toronto that I saw speak about ankylosing spondylitis a few years ago at an event. Then, I asked my (new) family doctor to refer me, which she did, and I had an appointment within weeks.
My initial appointments with both
My family doctor’s appointment came first. It was a phone appointment, and from that one appointment, I knew she was a perfect fit for my care team. She asked about my medical background and right away wanted to get me some testing for things that I had mentioned. She was on the ball, and never told me that my fatigue was made up or fake.
I met her in person a few weeks later, and she was everything I needed. She ordered me more testing and referred me to more doctors to get answers for what I’m going through. That’s what a doctor should do. When it came time for me to get a new rheumatologist, she didn’t fight me, she just sent the referral and that was it. Something I wanted over a year ago and couldn’t get with my old doctor.
My rheumatologist appointment was special. I just had it last week, so it’s still fresh in my mind. I spent over an hour with him and a colleague, talking about my fatigue mostly but also my other symptoms. They never once talked over me or made me feel uncomfortable. Before the appointment ended, the resident doctor even told me “I believe you and I want to help you,” which made me tear up.
I was ordered X-rays, blood work, and a new MRI (something my old rheumatologist refused me), and told we’d make a treatment plan after the results all came back.
How I feel about my new team
My new team makes me so happy I could cry. They genuinely are on my side and care about my symptoms that have been dismissed and downplayed in the past. They want to help me.
I can’t imagine being stuck with my old team for the rest of my life, I would have been miserable. My message to you is this: If you don’t feel satisfied with your doctor’s care, find someone who treats you better. It may take a while, but it’s more than worth it, and it’s what you deserve.
How much about your AS do you share with others?