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Chronic Snarkopolist: The Snarkopolist Method to Breaking Up with a Shitty Doctor: (50 errr 3 Ways to Leave Your Doctor)

Post Published: 07 July 2010
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Category: chronic autoimmune conditions column, Chronic Snarkopolist, Column
This post currently has 23 responses. Leave a comment

Hello my loves! I want to thank you all for the wonderful well wishes on my last and final surgery! I have come through with flying colors and am now getting the rest and recuperation that I need.  I am so grateful for your love!  Now let us get back to our snarkopolizing!

Last week we had such wonderful discussions on patients’ and doctors’ responsibilities for building good relationships.  And I realized we never really discussed THE BIG BREAK UPS.  You were so fabulous in the comments and discussions and I wanted to give you big props on your views. Truly – I wanted to wax poetic about my favorite walk out methods too. BE BOLD PEOPLE. If you’re going to walk out on your doctor – JUST DO IT NIKE STYLE.

METHOD 1 – THE WALKOUT

Really though- I like to think you are all so super smart that you needn’t have a “big break up.”  Hopefully you are better at my preferred method – THE WALKOUT.

This is my favorite method of culling shitty doctors.    Once you MUST go to a new specialist – then it is on both you and the doctor to have a good interaction.  However, if it is not going well from the beginning, I’m a huge fan of no nonsense method –  THE WALKOUT.

I will compare and contrast to you the difference by showing you the perfect scenario:

My first visit to see my neurologist I was sick with seizures, brain swelling, and THE WHOLE SPIEL.  He didn’t blink. He literally grabbed my hand and said to me, “Melissa I love complicated cases. I am a high risk doctor and we WILL GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS.  I will stay with you the entire time.”  And he did.  Now – to be fair – I lost faith many times – but HE NEVER DID.  Meanwhile – he ordered dozens of tests and sent me to DOZENS of doctors. Many of them were not the right one for me because I did not have an infectious disease nor was I dying of dread pirates disease – though I’m hoping it does show up on my grave stone and death certificate.

During this time – all my tests results had come back with positive ANA and stupidly high SED rates and eeg’s with seizures etc.  And you cannot fake those.  He’d put me in the hospital and tested for meningitis at one point and even written in his notes, “I think this patient has lupus or another auto-immune disorder- she needs a rheumatologist.”

So- I went to one after the other – but they were not lupus specialists.  On this particular day I had an appointment to see a rheumatologist who was supposed to be the queen of lupus.  But- he was sick that day- so I got to see a stand in who should be retired.  He’s a dick. This man grabbed my fingers – poked at my chest – and though I had lost over 65 pounds in less than 2 months said, “If you took better care of yourself you would not be so sick.”

That’s it.  HIS PROGNOSIS was “take better care of health.” GO AND MISBEHAVE NO MORE.  There was a doe eyed med student there whose eyes bugged out of her head – because it was clear that my kidneys were malfunctioning and my central nervous system was too. But because I had a good neurologist giving me support and telling me to KEEP THE FAITH that I WOULD be helped- I realized I needed to show up for myself.  And I said, “Woah – so I’m making my kidneys fail and causing myself seizures and losing 65 pounds in 2 months by being simply  – UNHEALTHY?” (you may insert the most snotty incredulous tone here you can – because I DID say it with that tone).

And this old bag of rags said, “Well yes- you are.”

And I got up and walked out while his gums were still flapping. I didn’t bother paying my copay and I didn’t even look back.  Up his nose with a rubber hose.  HIS SHITTY DOCTORING IS NO REFLECTION OF ME.  Really. Fuck him. He needs to retire and he has probably killed so many lupus patients by refusing to properly diagnose us or help us that he’s thinned the US herd single handedly.

On the way out I said to the med student, “DO NOT BECOME THIS MAN.”  And I left.

I went back to my neurologist who said, “I HATE when I have to do other people’s work.” And he sent me to yet another rheumatologist. It was yet ANOTHER “queen” of lupus in my city.  Everyone loves her and you wait an average of 4 for your appointment. The receptionist says, “Bring a book – you will wait.” And because I knew what I was in for – I did.  And she takes a minimum of 45 minutes to talk to you.  She is WONDERFUL.  When I told her about the rheumatologists I had seen in the past – at least three of them, she just shook her head. Crappy doctors like that make her work harder because by the time she sees sick patients like us we are on full renal failure, our nervous systems are on screaming meemie mode, and we are harder to get healthy again.

So my point is this – I have used the “WALK OUT METHOD” many many times.  If a doctor’s mouth is moving and he or she is blaming me or tearing me down without offering me ANY source of hope or positivity ON THE FIRST MEETING- I get up and walk out IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SESSION.  Even if you are an alcoholic or severely depressed or have other problems – your doctor should be sensitive to your needs and find a way to WORK WITH YOU on solving these problems – not lecture you and make you feel like a child.

Meanwhile – you do understand that I am a fan of YOU coming through for yourself and YOU being your own hero.  So get that I am telling you – the ‘walk out’ method is used for shitty doctors who will kill you if they put their hands on you.  But – it saves a “break up” in the long run.  You cannot break up with someone you never had a relationship with in the first place!

METHOD 2 THE OPEN CHEAT – “PLAYING THE FIELD”

Once you have been seeing a doctor for some time and things have gone stale I understand that you might want to leave. It is here where I am more cautious. I am a person who prefers to fan the flame of a relationship rather than leave. I am a person who TRIES to get it going again. I do not easily leave a trusted relationship. I just don’t. If you MUST cheat on your doctor, I say cheat wisely and obviously using full disclosure of all parties.

Tell your new doctor why you are cheating on your old doctor.  “I just wasn’t having my needs met. My old doctor isn’t sharing my test results with me and my blood work isn’t being shared. I feel that I’m being treated like one of many – and I only get talk to nurses, though I feel that I am giving my doctor all of my time and attention being compliant to my medication – my doctor hasn’t reviewed my medication with me in years.  If I am taking the time to come in and be a good patient – I want my doctor to do the same. DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE THAT ATTENTION FOR ME NEW CHEATY DOC? I’d like us to try. I hear you are the latest greatest in the area that I am having trouble and I NEED to feel good about my care.”

If that is the case – I think a new doctor will be hands offish with you for a bit – but you MIGHT get somewhere.  Or – you can say you’ve moved and they are closer… or you’ve changed insurance – they might buy it.  But to say you aren’t getting along with your old doc and they will automatically suspect YOU of being a difficult patient. I PROMISE.

This goes back to some of the fabulous things Robyn was saying in her comments. You become suspect no matter what.  It is not fair but it is true.  So the best way to cheat is to do it with honesty – “I need to have my needs met and I have heard SUCH GOOD THINGS ABOUT YOU.”  Butter them up rather than tear your old doctor down. It is worth a try.

I tried to cheat on my old internist once but only because she is SO beloved and busy it was taking me a WEEK to get appointments for emergent things like strep throat – and I have SO MANY doctors and specialists with long waits I just wanted someone who could see to me IMMEDIATELY (stomp stomp).  But it FAILED MISERABLY.  I HATED the new internal medicine doctor – who was a hoary cunt (who I walked out on after 7 minutes and being told I was both bipolar and being told I probably have several psychiatric illnesses – I don’t –but I did tell her that her diagnoses meant shit to me on my way out the door.)  I limped back to my internal medicine doctor, apologized for cheating on her and received a BIG FAT HUG for my return.  She didn’t even grumble. She HUGGED ME WITH OPEN HAPPY ARMS.  I was (and still am) smitten by her treatment of me and her lack of ego and forgiving nature.  (Incidentally – I called the chief of staff on the shitty doc b/c she worked in the same place as my internal doc and because I thought her rude and horrific and terrible. He took my concerns seriously and he told me to stick with my internist because she is a “good egg.” )  Gotta love those chiefs of staff.

METHOD 3 IF YOU FEEL IN DANGER – RUN DON’T WALK

That’s right cats. If you feel abused or in danger walk don’t run to the exists.  After our discussion Sarah brought up many points about cultural differences and it made me more and more grateful to be in the States right now – where I have both a cultural acceptance towards courtesy and “pleasing the patient.”  While this is NOT always the case – I do believe that some cultures are NOT AT ALL like this and hearing Sarah discuss her experiences abroad have really made me believe that if you are feeling unsafe – you MUST get yourself away from a bad situation.

DANGER WILL ROBINSON DANGER! RED ALERT! WARNING SIRENS!

You MUST be both educated, aware, and safe.

If you already HAVE a good doctor and lots of trust you will NOT (or rarely) be in this situation. The best scenario is to have good doctors so that you can get good referrals should your health take a bad turn. Right now I trust my specialists so implicitly that I KNOW I can call them for advice should I need it.  If I get a specialist or surgeon who is making me fearful or uncomfortable I sometimes make an appointment to talk with one of my trusted specialists about it – usually the referring one.

I’ve been known to say, “This surgeon is making me feel like an unruly child.”  And my specialist has replied, “Get a different one – go to Rob –  I send too many of my patients to the other guy for him to start treating people badly. I like Rob I was his attending and he’s good. Let me call him.”  This has TRULY HAPPENED for me.  If your RED ALERT is going off – you should have a specialist you can turn to who can and will hook a sistah or brosef up when you need surgery or a different specialist.

I will also confess to being so sick that at times a doctor has said, “I’m putting you on a new medication, would you like to know how it works?” And me – being both highly educated and interested in EVERYTHING about my body has replied, “No.”(whimper- curl into fetal ball). I could not be arsed.  She said, “Well I will give you the nickel tour so when you DO REALIZE YOU CARE you will have a decent understanding.”

A good doctor knows when you are SO SICK that you cannot deal with any more information. And she or he will still deal with you.  They know what you are like when you are feeling your best – so they know how to handle you when you feel badly.

METHOD 4 KEEPING A GOOD DOCTOR EVEN WHEN THEY FUCK UP OR GET GRUFF

We have discussed this in the past- especially Lolly and Sarah.  I’m going to reiterate again some of my VERY BEST doctoring and surgical experiences have come from TRUST and relationship building and NOT FROM RUNNING AWAY.

I cannot put a good point on this except to say- it comes from a knowing in your guts. You have to know when a doctor means well and will do well for you.  You have to know when something is a mistake and will not be repeated or when they are sloppy and can harm you.

Most recently Doc McHotterson and I had it out RIGHT BEFORE MY SECOND SURGERY WITH HIM. It was not pleasant.  And yet I realized that he was not being a jerk because he was unhappy – he was sincerely worried on my behalf. And when I realized that he is just such a compassionate person – yet the medical industrial complex does not leave space for a good surgeon to say, “Melissa – I don’t want to make your body or your world WORSE. I only want to leave you feeling BETTER.” It made me like him more. I could close my eyes and see his point of view – through his gruffness – and realize his fears were not for himself but for me – though he could not SAY IT.

In many ways medical school ruins doctors – it creates an inability for honest words and real communication between doctors and patients.  Doctors must heal from medical school for years before they “get over” their medical school training.  It does not leave space for a surgeon say what he REALLY WANTS TO SAY. “I’m afraid if you get worse you will blame me even though it won’t be my fault. I’m afraid even if I do my best your body will revolt and then I’ll feel terrible and I don’t want to hurt you more.”

In the end – I decided to stay with him. I wrote him a note and told him I believed in him and why. I told him what I wanted and needed from him to make the surgery better for me AND HE DID IT. He totally came through for me. HE REALLY DID.  I knew that McHotterson was more than a pretty face.  And when all the red lights were going on in my head – I had to get centered and think about fear and the nature of it –and WHY a surgeon would be afraid. Understanding people – and their compassion and their genuine goodness of heart helped me trust him and tell him so. It led to a good outcome for me.

If I had run away from this – I think it would have been fine for both of us – but I also think it would have chipped away at both Doc McHotterson and me in the space where people learn to TRUST. How much running away can we do when neither me or McHotterson are at fault. My sickness is not his fault.  His lack of confidence worked in my favor because it opened his heart enough for me to peek inside and see the true meaning behind his fear. Most doctors learn to be more abrasive and blame their patients MORE.

People have the ability to build each other up – in life, in medicine, in all areas. Because I am a chronically ill person I try to see every opportunity to give and receive love.

I try to do it with humor when possible -and integrity and honesty as well. Doctor McHotterson needed me to show up for him just as much as I needed him to show up for me.  I think we both won.  I am glad I didn’t run away from his fears or my own.  He is a good and honorable man. He will be a great doctor and a surgeon worth waiting for as he progresses. I would be willing to stake my life on that – gruffness or not.

He stood in front of me when as I was preparing to go under and said, “I will take care of you. I will keep you safe.”  He changed the course of the surgery for me because instead of being MY OWN HERO- he showed up for me in full shiny armor and made me feel SAFE. I felt surrounded in peace – and calm. I felt as though I could stop fighting battles and just let someone support me for a change.  I KNEW I adored him for a reason!  It gave me space to get on with my own physical healing. It was the most impressive doctoring I have had in many years. Doctoring from the heart is the only way to go – and if I had run away from Doc McHotterson I would have missed out on his special brand of compassion.  And he would have also.  I’m not sure he knew he was capable of that.  I’m glad we both got to experience it – it has changed us both for the better.

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23 Responses to “Chronic Snarkopolist: The Snarkopolist Method to Breaking Up with a Shitty Doctor: (50 errr 3 Ways to Leave Your Doctor)

  1. Diana Boyll says:

    Thank you for this!..I’m still reeling from my Dr dismissing me a couple of weeks ago. She had told me that
    “I was wasting her time” and “she had more important patients to see”, while I was looking for a new Dr to replace her, I told the receptionist not to schedule me anymore and I told her why. 2 days later a registered letter from the Dr was delivered to me stating that “since I was unsatisfied with the care she had provided me she felt it better for us to end our professional relationship and she would no longer see me”…really…you treat me like a waste of your time, and then dismiss me?..
    This has me not to anxious to go find yet another Dr and start over, but that is where I am at, so that is what I shall do.

  2. Jen says:

    I can’t believe no one else has commented yet! This really hits home and provides excellent advice. For about a month I struggled with going back to see my current endo, because he is really bullish about not putting me back on the natural meds that worked so well before; however, I decided this will be his last chance (I have simply stopped taking my medication because the reaction has gotten so obnoxious). He’s a good doctor and I think he wants to help, so for him…Okay. I’ll be patient. Unless this visit does not work out. Still, what you have written here is all so wise. Doctors have bad days, too, and they certainly cannot keep up with new developments. Sometimes we need to be patient with them.

    That said, I’ve walked out of offices before (other than the time an endo KICKED me out). We can’t be afraid to do this, and much as I hate the word…it’s really empowering.

    Great post, thank you. I hope others learn from this too!

  3. Bee says:

    I try to give every doc the benefit of the doubt and the respect they deserve for their medical expertise. I also realize that they are human and have bad days. That said, I had no problem leaving my PCP’s office after almost 12 yrs of care by both phyicians in the practice because I started to feel like a nuisance to both of them. I hated seeing the office staff roll their eyes when i’d walk in. I allowed one of the docs to get away with actually telling me that i’d just have to stop eating because all my weight gain couldn’t possibly be thyroid related.He thought he was being funny ; but he should’ve stuck with doctoring becuz comedy wasn’t his forte. I allowed both he and his partner to up various med doses or add new meds or take them away or tell me that they didn’t believe in sleep aids but they’d be glad to get me loaded up with antianxiety pills for sleep-i allowed all this because i had a history with them bfore thyroid disease. But when the cute little female doc looked me in the eye and told me that she wanted me to find another doc to treat one of my side effect illnesses because she didn’t want to be responsible for my possible overdose and she actually compared me to Heath Ledger( while prescribing yet another med) i lost faith in her and hightailed it to a doc who would listen. But i got smart. I called the new doc and set up an interview appt to make sure we’d start out on the same page.I didn’t bad mouth the old but just simply stated that our relationship had run its course. As for the old office staff-beware of office personnel who never look like they’re enjoying theirr jobs. They don’t joke with each other .They don’t smile at each othr.They’re rude to the patients. That was the only office i pitched a royal fit in-in the middle of their waiting room in front of all the other patients-and then when i saw the receptionist and office manager snicker at my antics I went postal on them and boy howdy did i get to see the doctor immediately. So be kind when you can. Use the manners your mamma taught you. But DO NOT take any shit from anyone in the medical field. After all, we are now customers (I was actually in a human resources meeting when the hospital i worked in was overtaken and our new employers told us that our patients were to be called customers)In that light, remember, the customer is always right.

  4. robyn hahn says:

    Melissa–I love this post!
    First, I am very happy that your surgery went well, and I hope it is the last for a while.

    Second, you are spot on–you have to know when to hold ’em, and know when to fold ’em…(know when to walk away, and know when to run! 🙂

    I second, or third, the sentiment from you and Bee about not bad mouthing your previous doc if you are “shopping” for a new one. Clearly, there will be nothing to be gained by looking back, and you risk being labeled “problem” or “high maintenance” from the start. One can be positive and tell the truth, (“I’m seeking other opinions.”), or the white lie (“Your location is more convenient”).

    NEVER NEVER NEVER be afraid to drop names. If someone refers you, make sure the doc knows, even if it’s someone you don’t know well (like another doctor). This helps you in the accountability department since doctors like to get referrals! I’m lucky to have MD friends, and after the initial greeting/handshake, I always say “My friend, Dr. Smith, recommended I come see you because she felt that you would really work with me to maintain my health (or whatever)”. It makes you more of a person, too, and not just another number through their door.

    I think many doctors fear admitting to a patient that they don’t know what is going on with their illness. I learned early on that it is the best thing you can do. If I am stumped by a pet, I tell them that I don’t really know what is going on–but I develop a plan, and ask them to keep me in the loop so that we can adjust that plan as new symptoms arise or as improvement does/does not happen. Sometimes you do eventually arrive at a diagnosis, sometimes you just manage symptoms as best you can–but being honest with the patient is important. So far, I’ve had very few people who didn’t appreciate this candor (some do, they want an ANSWER right then, and frankly it probably is best they see someone else because either I’m missing it, or the answer won’t be found).

    We can make our doctors do the same thing. Ask them their plan for your diagnosis, or to find your diagnosis, or whatever is relevant. Then, and this is the important part, ASK THEM WHAT THE NEXT STEP WILL BE IF THAT ISN’T WORKING OR THE TEST DON’T SUPPORT THEIR PRESUMPTIVE DIAGNOSIS. Make them start thinking of differentials and alternatives from the very beginning, in a nice way, so that they know you expect them to work, not coast, through your appointments!

  5. Lolly says:

    Melly-Mel,

    So good to see you back and recovering from your recent surgery, it’s great you have got a good team working for you now, you have to work hard to find it in the beginning but once you do you want to hold onto it and hope that nothing upsets the applecart.

    I too like Bee like to give the Doctor the benifit of the doubt and don’t always go by first impressions because they are only human, maybe wifely had a headache and no sex that night or the kids have been playing up and daddy didn’t get much sleep, or work load is far to much and doc is working long hours. What I do expect from a doctor is the willingness to listen and even if they don’t have the answer just like you is to search refer until they at least come up with a plan.

    I have been to too many doctors just to find out after all the test for IBS PID probably even some kind of sexually transmitted disease, hey one docotr swore i was having an ectopic pregnancy I had endometriois it wasn’t till one said enough is enough we will do a laprosocpy and see what is happening IBS my arse if they don’t know treat you for IBS, ended up having total hysterectomy roll on years later pain back with a vengence IBS again more shitty tests sent away until I got to the point no more got referred to a gyn who did an ultra sound took bloods and booked me in for yet another laprocopy and to fix anythung they find when having it I had adhesions across the stomache wall probably have then lower down but they don’t really want to touch them yet not until it gets that unbearable because of perforating the bowel and the bladder.

    Sometimes you have to go through a few doctors to find the right a keeper, one who listens, is willing to work with you and you with them a two way partnership because that what it is, does the right tests to find the Cause and then treats appropriatly.

    I have met some really lovely Dr’s along the way and wish you could have them for everything but it doesn’t work that way.

    I do have to say and I don’t know why but endocriminologists are a law unto themselves i have yet to meet a good one. Our system differs so much from yours in as much you can’t pick and choose who you are referred to, It’s like Russian Roulettee hit or miss.

    I WALKED out on my last one never to look back with the door hanginging off the hinges but i was polite about it, I wasn’t rude I held my tongue but i knew that this relationship just wasn’t going to work, I don’t like being lied too nor strung along with hope that he will carry through what he promised me on our first appointment. I gave him the benifit of the doubt I complied with everything he wanted me to do even if it did mean making me ill because I was deperate to be heard, but then the realisation on my second visit was he was never going to honour what he had said on that first visit neither had he any intention of looking at the private FT3 test I had brought with me he was only interested in getting my TSH up to 2.5 well fuck that I want mine 1 or below but I didn’t say anything then because I still ahd hope that I could show him proof. He was never interested in what I had to say nor my symptoms I knew i was getting nowhere and by the third visit i knew this would be the last for both of us.

    I am no longer interested in looking for an endo as I think most of them think alike here in the UK and just getting one to acknowledge FT3 is near on impossible which makes it so frustrating for us thyroid patients who are just not cutting it on Levothyroxine at all.

    The system has failed me as a patient,Client a customer and a human being which makes me lose faith, I have a referral to a different specialist coming up and i know he will include lab tests even antibodies tests to find the cause of my most recent problem. I feel I have waited long enough to get back on track with my health.

    I will have to tell you the story of how i was wrongly diagnosed with Lupus and lead to beleive i had it for 6 weeks until I saw the specialist who had ordered the test.

    Bee I love what your wrote straight up and yes we are customers clients Certainly not patients although we have tp practise patience many times before we say I am at the end of my tether for fuck sake do something help me please, beleive me, listen to me.

    Great Column Melissia you make it sound so easy sometimes, getting the right doctor but it isn’t and it takes some longer than others if they ever do, in the meantime your health declines you suffer and lose hope but find one good one who then puts you onto another you’re laughting all the way to surgery or better health. I’m so Pleased I really am that you have found yours and that they are taking great care of you.

    What they fail to teach upcoming doctors, it’s something you have to have in the first place is humility and compassion if they got them they’ll go a long way in medicine but don’t and it will be a bumpy ride for doctor and patient with the patients coming off worse.

    I’ve got verbal diarrhoea time for labs but I certainly not talking shite!!!

    Love
    Lolly

  6. Amanda says:

    Thank you again Melissa. While I don’t have much experience with dealing with doctors YET… I have always been lucky with the ones I have chosen. With all the new doc’s and medical people coming into my life now, I just worry that my luck will run out. Because my son has had so many behavioral and emotional problems, I am very very good at assessing someone by their behavior, body language and facial expressions. Hopefully that will help me when I get to finally meet my soon to be new endo[s]. Previously you wrote about doctors who can give hugs, I agree 100%. My current GP has hugged me, held my hand, handed me tissues and patted me on the head [ya, goofy.. but effective]. I know she is worried about me and that she cares… she has called me at home just to check up on me and tell me more info that she has sucked out of other doctors. Adding these tips to my now huge notebook of doctor info. Thank you.

  7. Lisa Stiers says:

    Wow! This was great, thank you made think of alot of mistakes I have even made. I wasn’t educated about my disease, when I was finally told it was hashimotos I didn’t even know what it was! I didn’t even understand about thyroid failure. Now I do because of my sister and my sister in law Janet. Now I know I need to watch my back there’s not alot of people who will. This gives me even more power to do so! So good food for thought, thank you again. Hope you are feeling better soon
    hugs Lisa

  8. Nicole Wells says:

    Melissa,

    You’re my HERO for walking outta that docs office. I’ve wanted to do that so many times, but I think the shock from their comments keeps me in my seat.

    My current endo is so hot I don’t think I’ll ever be able to leave…even if he starts saying stupid shit to me. So, if he fails me I might start cheating on him, but I’ll come back for the eye candy. I dunno, I’m out of my mind.

    I’m loving this column!

  9. Bobsure Onkle says:

    Great to hear the surgery went well! I once had a cardiac surgeon run away from a patients family in a reverse of your experience! Their relative was dying they wanted to talk, he couldn’t be assed! For an old guy he could motor when he wanted too! Long may your recovery continue!
    XxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxX

  10. Sarah Downing says:

    Hey Melissa,

    Interesting column with some good tips! I don’t want people to think that medical care is bad in Germany and despite what you said about being glad to be in the US, I have mixed feelings about this – we will be moving there next year. Many doctors may have less of a bedside manner here, but as Corey and I recently discussed, we feel that you have to prioritise what you want and need from a doctor.

    By far our top priority is to have someone who knows what they are doing, even if they are at times tough to deal with. There are some very good doctors here – I have two of them – and it’s also very, very easy to get a referral just by asking.

    Furthermore, there is one other huge thing to consider – insurance here is dirt cheap compared to what you have to pay in the US. I currently pay EUR 288.82 a month and that includes a surcharge for a preexisting hormone imbalance! That’s cheap when you consider that my insurance pay almost 100% of my doctors’ bills, 75% of medicines and 75% of certain other bills such as those of non-medical practitioners. I am waiting till the US gets their insurance premiums down to that rate and I hope they do at some point because insurance costs aren’t half as crippling here and, as Corey said himself, this is the best insurance he has EVER had!

    So my point is, even if you can’t have everything on your wish list, maybe that’s not always realistic. I once read a Mary Shomon article that said precisely that. I don’t believe that there is a 100% perfect doctor out there. Either they are so popular that you have to wait for hours in their office (like our PCP), they are highly knowledgeable and great at what they do, but sometimes gruff and snappy (like my gyno) or numerous other things.

    Then of course there are those doctors who simply aren’t worth wasting your time with. I’m prepared to put up with shit if I know my doctor is going to get me well. I guess you just have to weigh up the pros and cons.

    I wouldn’t want to stay here because my time in Germany has not always been happy – it’s tougher than ever being an expat at times – but I don’t know that I’d pass up on the experience as it has taught me such a lot, moreover how to deal with difficult people. I feel like I am ready for anything now and moving to the US doesn’t really phase me as I have already dealt with so much here.

    I’m very glad your surgery went well! I liked reading your story at the end about Doctor McHotterson. It was very moving and kind of reminded me of my gyno because despite his initial rudeness and gruffness, he once again told me yesterday that he was going to look after me and I can tell that he truly does care.

    In life, we don’t always come across people who are easy to deal with and sometimes it can be quite a challenge, but it’s also one we learn so much from. And then of course there are some people (including doctors) who seem mean through and through and that’s when you should run, run, run!

    Love,

    Sarah

  11. Melissa Travis says:

    Hi Diana –
    my goodness! That is an ENORMOUS swift kick in the chops to get a letter like that without getting any referrals or having your doctor even talk to your face.

    It sounds like you were NOT a good fit at all!! I think you should see your way clear to have a GOOD FAITH visit with a new doc. Use the snarkopolist methods I outlined last week!! Do NOT badmouth this doc to your new doc ok!

    And by all means – KEEP ME UP TO DATE on what happens. Use Dear Thyroid as your source of support!!! Everyone here is WONDERFUL! We’ve all had enormous amounts of hit or miss with our doctors and healthcare issues…

    Clearly – you are being given a BRAND NEW SHINY START!!!

    I’m rooting for you!
    Big hugs!
    Keep me apprised of how your new doc visits go. And do NOT get down on it. Keep your shoulders straight and go in and make happy with your next doc! I am rooting for you!
    xoxo
    M

  12. Melissa Travis says:

    Hey Jen!!
    Thanks so much for writing!!! I’m so glad you’re giving it the ol college try with your endo! And I do hope you find the relief and medication and treatment plan that works for you.

    It is funny, isn’t it – how endo’s seem to be a breed of their own sometimes. Some of the most research I’ve presented has gone UNHEEDED when I take it in to them– simply because THEY DON’T CARE. Even if I say, “this latest JAMA article is indicating that use of this particular medication with this particular disease and treatment with my type of treatment is getting better results… what do you think doctor?”

    And they have answered – HONESTLY ANSWERED – “It probably is — and you probably wouldn’t even notice because you feel so bad anyway.” That one both tickled me and ticked me off. What it said to me was 1) EVENTUALLY I need to find a new endo and 2) I’m too caught up with other areas of my health to deal with it RIGHT NOW and 3) if the only area of my health that was being addressed was my endocrine system (bc it affects so much other areas) I’d be MORTIFIED – bc what on earth do you do to that. He wasn’t fighting with me – but he wasn’t budging on my treatment and I didn’t want to force his hand.

    So- GOOD LUCK TO YOU!! I say take in the most information you can – be sweet and respectful – but HONEST!!!

    And LET ME KNOW HOW IT GOES!!!! I’m on your side! Everyone here on DT is on your side! We’re in your corner! We’ve been here (and we’re still here).

    I’m really truly interested to hear how YOUR next doc apt goes for both personal and professional reasons. So please get back with me and tell me the skinny on how your doc reacts and if you both come to a livable treatment plan. E-mail me at melissa@dearthyroid.com

    Cheers!
    Melissa

  13. Melissa Travis says:

    Hi Bee!
    Thanks for writing in! Oh my goodness!! I’m SO GLAD you left your former doc office if you were dealing with people who rolled their eyes at you and made you feel unwelcome and said scary things like, “you might end up like Health Ledger from the side effects of what I’m prescribing you.”

    NO THANK YOU!

    Good for you for moving on. Good. for. you!!!!!

    And also – I’m happy that you are able to advocate on your own behalf!! I know it is sometimes difficult to do so. And I agree with you about the customer thing.

    Meanwhile – sometimes it is hard for me to look back at some of my experiences and think – “how can I be such a “horrific person to doctor x and be such a princess to doctor y”… but I guess that is how HUMAN interaction goes — even in the medical field.

    Thank you so much for writing in! I’m looking forward to hearing more of your experiences!!!

    Cheers!!
    Melissa

  14. Melissa Travis says:

    Hi Robyn —

    I love it when you comment! You always have such wonderful contributions! I love it when doctors give me referrals or names!!

    In fact – I’m clutching a shiny new G/I doctor’s name in my hand now b/c she was his attending and I’m moving to a new state… and she said, “You need a new G/I doc when you move- you need someone closer than me for what you’re dealing with.” Unlike endos and my neurologist etc- I cannot just come and see them every few months- so I am SO THRILLED to have HER NAME to drop to him so that I sort of have a “pass” that screams “see – I’m a decent schmo”… we’ll see. I REALLY LOVE my G/I doc more than most though — so I’m leaving her kicking and screaming.

    I also like your suggestion of “what is the next step here.” I truly do. I’m a fan of plans because I like to know that there is one. Even if there is no “cure” or no real way to fix things – I’m a fan of “options” and “treatment plans” and something better than, “we’re gonna take you out back and shoot you”….

    Thanks so much for joining in toots!! You truly rock my socks off!! I love your points but make sure to at least keep me informed of how you’re doing even if you just shoot me a personal e-mail!! I’m nosey and I care!!! MASSIVE HUGS!
    xx
    Melissa

  15. Melissa Travis says:

    My dearest Lolly-Lol!!

    How I adore hearing from you! Listening to your medical war stories is always so awful and fascinating! Some of them I can easily relate to because I’ve had MORE than my share of horrific things happen to me – some bad doctoring – and some just plain bad luck… (and some just bad health)… on the other hand – OH MY GOODNESS — I want to scoop you up and protect you from further horrific doctors!!!

    Yes – I did know that sometimes in the U.K. there was more of a roulette style to getting a referral. We have that with SOME of our medical systems here too – it depends on the kind of insurance and clinics we got to here. I’m lucky in that I have private insurance and I can pick my own doctors at this point in my medical health experience.

    Oh goodness — I too hope that the system does not fail you again!! I’m hoping that you get on track as well – and they do the proper anti-body test. I hope that the doctor listens to you as well – and orders it!!!

    And OHMYGOODNESS – I am so interested in hearing your lupus story. That must have been terrible!! The people I know who suffer from lupus (self- included) have horrific times with the initial reaction to it because we all fear THE WORST from the beginning – and the only as time goes on do we begin to realize that (as with any disease -there is a life after it). Please e-mail me your story!! Must know it! And then how they refigured it all back out!! You have so been such a solider through it all!!!

    And you are RIGHT Lolly — it is NOT easy finding that good doctor and that good connection. It is why I’m in such hysterics for the big move that I’m making and why I’m flying back to my state to keep in touch with almost all of my current doctors and specialists. I just cannot bear to leave most of them AND I’m just not feeling up to snarkopolizing my way into 11 more specialists now that I HAVE the ones I want.

    You’re always in my heart Lolly-Lol!!! Write me as much as you can stand and the some!!! I adore you!
    xx
    Melissa

  16. Melissa Travis says:

    Wow Amanda! If your current GP is giving you so much TLC I have GREAT HOPE that she’ll give you wonderful referrals to specialists!! I’m hoping that things work out for you!!

    I don’t think your luck will run out. I truly don’t. I do think, like many of us here – you MIGHT chance into some schmoes upon rare occasion — but do NOT allow that to trick you into thinking that is YOUR FAULT.

    Meanwhile – please do let me know how your endo works out!!! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you! Everyone here has been in your boat. We’ve all done this (some of us many times)! So make sure you keep coming to DT AND I’m personally very interested in how you’re doing — so e-mail me and comment here and keep me up to snuff!! I’m very much interested in how the “new” thyroid kid on the block is doing!!

    And good luck with your son! I’m sure you’ve learned many skills that will serve you well… perhaps your comments along the way will help ad more insight into the column for us!!!

    Much love and luck!!!
    xx
    Melissa

  17. Melissa Travis says:

    Hi Lisa!
    So glad you wrote in!!

    Well – at least here on DT we’re a great group of people who “watch each other’s backs!” And I love for everyone to comment and add in their 2 cents because we’ve all had different experiences as well.

    Meanwhile — I’m so sorry that you were handed a disease that you were not prepared for and not given plenty of information or explanations about it. I know the drill- but it so DOESN’T help. hugs.

    So keep coming to DT and feel supported and empowered!! And come let me know how you’re doing! I love to know how people are doing and how their treatments are progressing! Are you feeling better? Do you think your hashimotos is under control? Are you at the weight and T3/T4 levels you feel good at? Do you feel GOOD?

    Let me know! And also — always let us know (and me) any new things you learn along the way! We’re all in this together!
    xx
    Melissa

  18. Melissa Travis says:

    Ha! Nicole I love it!!!

    I cracks me up that you enjoy the train wreck too much to leave so you sit through it to the end!!! Next time make sure to bring the pop corn – because you aren’t leaving till the GOREY BLOODY END!

    Ohmy– you had me howling about your hottie endo!!! I wonder if that is how he makes and keeps all his patients! “I don’t have to be good – I have to be hot!” hahaha!

    *spritz – shines teeth – glistens skin – does push ups*

    “THIS IS FOR THE LADIES– NOW TAKE YOUR MEDS AND TRY NOT FAINT FROM THE HOTTNESSS!”

    You just got my imagination going.

    I go to too many women I guess. (Except for my neurologist. Meow.)

    Sending out the magic props back you awesome thing!!!
    xo
    Melissa

  19. Melissa Travis says:

    Hi Bobsure Onkle!
    Thank you for the kind comments on the surgeries!! I’m doing quite well after a bit of a rough patch! You cats are so good to me how could I be anything but fab?

    Surgeons are crazy aren’t they? I can never figure out if they went into surgery because they couldn’t BEAR to see people in pain so they have to knock us out to deal with us… or if they just plain have no people skills so they use surgery as their excuse to not have to formulate any in adulthood… LOL

    Meanwhile – I’m so sorry to hear about that patient’s family. Sometimes all people need is a little closure and having a few words to ensure that “everything that COULD BE DONE WAS” is all they need or want to hear.

    Thanks for writing in again! Love to hear from you!
    x
    Melissa

  20. Melissa Travis says:

    Hello Dearest Sarah!

    Oh dears! I hope to goodness with all the ranting and raving I’ve done about crap medical care in the States that no one thinks for ONE SPLIT SECOND that we have “good medical care” and that everyone else doesn’t.

    I hope that people understood I was merely referring to YOUR comments about CULTURAL DIFFERENCES and how difficult it is to LEARN AND UNDERSTAND THEM!!!! But thank you for writing – because you are fabulous and so is your column!!!!

    It is hard enough to deal with our own medical issues – let alone add in a medical complications!!! Lolly has done enough discussions of the U.K. and how she deals with her own medical care there…

    It appears that we’ve all had BEAUTIFUL AND BRILLIANT experiences and we’ve all had horrific and terrible experiences and none of us can really point to any “generalized” reason for it.

    And you are correct about the insurance here. It is privatized and you are better off getting it through YOUR JOB (yours or your husbands)… meanwhile — yes – I do know what you mean about being worried about healthcare here if you don’t have quality insurance AND the high cost of insurance. *faints* I’ll just say that my health insurance was the best thing to come out of my divorce and leave it at that.

    I LOVE the idea of having a wish list and then realizing that you must have YOUR MOST IMPORTANT things handled… That makes total sense!!! It also makes sense to me why I am willing to put up with SOME THINGS I do not like but have NO TOLERANCE for others… because I have a certain set of ideals (I just never realized it was a “wish list” before).. but now that you’ve put it out there – YES– I love it. I’m glad you reiterated it!

    Thanks for the kind comments sweetest thing!! I’m glad my surgeries are over too! And I thought of your doc experience when I was writing out Hotterson being gruff too!!

    I know that you’re be GREAT when you move to the States. I think you’ll be surprised by our excess and greed and consumerism because everyone is- but it is already a well known fact – and even though you’ve already travelled here excessively – living here is always a shock to people who’ve grown up and lived in Europe. But I’m looking forward to meeting you in person!! You’re going to be FAB!!
    xx
    Melissa

  21. Amanda says:

    Melissa, I honestly “feel” that I have this community on my side. My doc is great, she previously was a mental health counselor… which in her opinion every doctor should do first, before they can treat anyone as a medical doctor. She is humble and funny. Her opening line is “see? we are on the same level, I am sitting on a butt pillow”. She has referred me to a local endo that is her good friend, and that is the one that is coming up this week. The other endo is 1 1/2 hour drive from my home, in a big sort of famous hospital… he has written articles for the Official Journal Of The American College Of Endocrinology about Graves Disease…[ya, that sounds great… but what if he is a pompous ass?]. They both seem to have kind faces.

    If I understand it correctly, you have a long list of diseases / surgeries. I sure wish you the best and hope things settle down for you soon.

  22. Sarah Downing says:

    Hey Melissa,

    I know you might not think that, but I did want to clarify things for your readers. Besides, it is important and interesting to talk about the different healthcare systems, isn’t it? All of them have their pros and cons.

    I actually have private health insurance – just like the US – but here it works a bit differently. The majority of people have state healthcare, which ironically has more expensive premiums and less coverage. As far as I know, private health insurance is only open to those who earn over a certain amount or who are freelancers. Both C and I have it for different reasons – me because of my freelance status and he because he is an expat (although I suspect that he might also qualify based on income alone). I opted to private because the premiums are cheaper (the earlier you enter with fewer conditions, the cheaper it is – I was in my early 20s and just had one hormone imbalance when I started my policy) as state health insurance is based on your previous year’s income and I’m not even sure if you get a refund if you earn less the year you are paying it. There have been a lot of state cutbacks in the past few years, so private pays for more and it also pays for a wider range of treatments, including things like acupuncture and chiropractic. That said, it’s not always a walk in the park as I’ve had to argue with my insurance a few times and haven’t always been reimbursed everything they should have reimbursed me, but on the whole they do pay for most stuff and it’s better for me than having state insurance.

    As for insurance in the US, I’m happy to say that I’ll be insured through Corey’s job, which usually provided pretty good insurance without taking into account any preexisting conditions. This makes me feel very lucky and will hopefully take the pressure off somewhat, as moving to a foreign country is never easy, although the US doesn’t seem that foreign to me compared to Germany. I have always thought of it as somewhere in between the UK and the rest of Europe. Of course, the UK is Europe too, but partly because we are an island, I think many Brits think of themselves as a bit apart from “mainland Europe”. It’s hard to explain, but I’m sure you’ve heard of this.

    I’d love to meet you! I think we would probably get on quite well. I’ve already seen that you, me and Corey have several interests in common, including geeky stuff and Dr Who!

    BTW, the wish list comment gave me an idea for this week’s column, which is coming out tomorrow. I had already decided what I was going to write about, but it gave me some ideas as to content.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

    Love,

    Sarah

  23. Melissa, thanks so much for writing this!! I’m so very fortunate that I’ve never had to break up with a doctor. Until I was diagnosed with thyca, I’ve never had to see a doctor on a regular basis. Thankfully, I have a knowledgeable primary care physician who referred me to the best endocrinologist evah! And my endo referred me to the best surgeon I could’ve asked for. Yes, I know I’m fortunate. But I appreciate this article so very much because one day I might encounter a doctor who treats me like I’m just a chart and nothing more. And if that day comes, I now know how to leave.

    You’re awesome!

    xoxo,
    Joanna

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