Perturbed, frustrated, aggravated, irritated, upset, disturbed, annoyed, bothered, discouraged, disheartened, dispirited, downcast, dejected…  I need a bigger thesaurus.

When I left rheumy #1 for rheumy #2, I was clear about what I wanted:

  • a doctor with whom I had good rapport
  • a doctor in private practice, not owned by a hospital
  • a doctor who saw patients without shuffling them aside to a PA

For a few years things were going well.  Unfortunately, about a year ago my doctor’s practice sold out.

Once they were owned by a hospital, things changed.  First thing to go was the excellent front office staff.  They were moved elsewhere within the system and replaced by lemon-suckers who just seem to be going through the motions.  Next my doctor’s MA (who always managed to process prescription refills within one day) disappeared; it now takes five days to approve refills and there’s a different MA every time I’m there.

To add insult to injury, the hospital brought in PAs.  Instead of seeing my private MD, I now see a hospital-employed PA.  The PA might be a nice person, might be competent after learning to do joint exams without causing pain, might be a lot of things. What the PA is not is the doctor with whom I established a relationship.  I feel betrayed.

Now the office is calling to move my appointment.  It seems that the hospital system has decided to open another clinic at another one of their hospitals.  My choice is to drive an extra 30 minutes or move my appointment to a different day.

I want out, but there doesn’t seem to be any point in finding a new doctor right now, since whoever I find could eventually sell out, leaving me right back in the same position.  Instead, I will show up for appointments as rarely as possible so that my prescription refills will be approved.  My youngest child is twelve; in six years he’ll head to college, and four years after that he should graduate.  That means I just have to deal with this ten more years before we can retire and move away.  If I can get away with follow-up visits every six months, that means I only have to go in twenty more times.  By then, I expect the medical profession to have undergone significant changes, and finding a new rheumy will likely be a completely different situation than it is now.

Twenty might sound like a lot, but I remember how many appointments I had the first few years after I was diagnosed. Twenty is nothing.  Although I was unhappy about things when I started this post, I actually feel better now.  I can endure twenty visits.


7 thoughts on “Endurance

  1. Oh, Socks, what a mess! To me there is nothing more important to a successful treatment plan than a doctor/medical practice you can relate to. I hate to think of you “making do” for 10 years! I would find another practice that fits you better. If, eventually, things change there as well at least you will have had some time with a practice that works. I shudder to think about you being in this practice if you need to change treatment plans or other things happen in the next 10 years. Sorry you’re going through this. Sending hugs.

  2. I feel very fortunate to live in an area that affords me the opportunity to pick and choose. In the 27 years I have dealt with RA I have only had 2 rheumatologist.. So sorry you have to go through all of the hassle let alone the disappointment when a doc doesn’t meet your needs.

  3. Hi Warm Socks, I also live in western MA and have RA. I did not find the treatment I needed here. Then I heard from a doctor, who also has RA, about a rheum doc at Brigham and Women’s Arthritis Center. His treatment is aggressive and top-notch researched. I’m also in numerous studies as part of his research with Harvard Med School. Seeing this doctor turned my life with RA around! I encourage anyone who is fighting RA and/or similar disease to find a doctor you really feel is in it, with you. I travel to Boston, and would hop a plane to see him if I had to! It makes an incredible difference to feel you are in the best possible care.

  4. Thank you so much, friends. Surprisingly enough, things are looking up. Apparently my rheumy read this post. Prescription refills are now being handled within 24 hours for all patients; the doctors didn’t know that had changed with the buy-out. Also, I don’t have to see the PA. 🙂

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