Thursday, March 16, 2006

Is there a doctor in the house?

Two weeks ago my family physician of 20+ years died of breast cancer. If anyone could beat it, I thought she would. I didn't like the doctor who bought her practice ( I ranted on about this a few posts back), and so I sent for a copy of my medical records to take to a new doctor I had heard good things about. By the way, if you ever do this, be sure to get your copied records sent to you and not directly to the new doctor. The reason for this isn't so you can read them (although of course you can, anytime) but because if they arrive before your first appt. with the dr., his staff will look in their files, not see one for you (yet), shove your copies in a drawer somewhere, and when you arrive for your first visit, no one will have any idea where your old records are--or even if they arrived. And you do want them there with you at your first visit, so your new doctor will have information about lab results, surgeries, medications, right at his fingertips. If you don't hand-carry them, you'll never be sure they arrive at all.

Anyway, I did read through them, and I realized anew how special my old doctor really was. For example:
(Redhead) presents today. We haven't seen her here in this office for almost two months now. She had been, evidently, doing fairly well up until that time. She says, over the last month, she has slowly been getting more depressed. I did talk to her husband, who does not think that she has been getting progressively more depressed, since she's had several good days in the last month, but she feels much more depressed. She's been doing more sleepwalking. She does feel intermittently suicidal, although she's not been ()...She agreed not to hurt herself in any way....I am worried about her. She has been extremely depressed in the past. Today, she has a flat effect. Her exam was benign, other than the flat effect. I have seen her much more depressed than she is today, but I am still worried about her.
And then she went on to say she was calling my psych. Dr. to discuss anti-depressant regimen, and that she also talked to my therapist (all of which I had previously signed releases for her to do).
In contrast, here's what the doctor's notes read from the one who bought her practice:
ROS: denies unexpected weight change, fatigue, change in appetite, fevers, night sweats, rashes, easy bruising, changes in skin lesions, headaches, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, urinary problems, sexual dysfunction, myalgias, arthralgias, syncope,memory loss, or depressed mood.
Subjective: A four month follow-up. She discontinued () due to persistent cough and never started () due to fear of side effects. Claims her sugars are well-controlled at home. No new complaints.
Married, employed, denies tobacco or alcohol use.

Can you see the difference? Even though the first one was a time when I felt bad, and the second was when I was doing better.

Anyway, I saw the new doctor Monday, and I already like him a good bit. He went over my history and my family history, checked that I knew what each med is for, promised to read the old notes before he dictated his note, did a quick but complete exam, patted me on the back and told me that if I started to feel "down" to call him sooner rather than later, so we could "work it out" before I became desperate, and remarked on how sad it was that Dr. S. had died; that he knew my psych dr. and would willingly work with him "to keep us all on the same page". I am encouraged.

In other news, techie maven that I am, I managed to change the ringtone on my cell phone to one I downloaded. It now plays the Pink Panther Theme, which hopefully I'll recognize when it rings, and not sit there, puzzled, wondering what that strange sound coming from my purse is all about.

1 comment :

Carolyn said...

Glad you feel encouraged by the new doc. So often, a new physican is hard to get used to. And that is good advice on taking your med records in with you the first time. I've found out lately it also helps to get any current lab results from your main doctor to take to a referral doc too. Saves a lot of wait time to have them faxed over :)