Thursday, May 17, 2007

That river in Egypt

Jane is STILL in the hospital. It goes without saying that she's cranky, because she feels that they're not listening to her. Unfortunately, when doctors are not familiar with you and are taking you on as a new patient, they tend to follow treatment protocols to the letter.

A good example is my chronic bronchitis. My first family doctor was used to my annual trek to his office mid autumn. I sounded like I was about to cough up a lung. We went through various antibiotics and cough medicines for a few years until we reached an effective combination. Once that occurred, I only had to call him with the news that the bronchitis had returned and he then would make the call to the local pharmacy to prescribe my codeine based cough medicine and antibiotic du jour.

Once I ventured out on my own, I found a great family practice doctor, but I had to start from scratch. The first bout of bronchitis with this new doctor found me getting prescription strength Robitussin, even though I told him what worked best for me was the codeine based and possibly an antibiotic to stave off the sinusitis. It took two tries to get it right. This seems to be the norm with each new GP.

That's the funny thing about doctors: they have all this training and recommended protocols that they will follow UNTIL they develop a familiarity with YOU and your assorted quirks. You know what? I don't mind having to go through hoops to educate a doctor, because it means that the doctor in question is thorough.

For instance, I've said many times that if I ever have a need for further wrist surgery that I will travel to Maryland for it. I have received excellent care from an incredible doctor there. There is no need to go through my history, as he's done all but one surgery on my hands. To be honest, the first time I met this surgeon, he was a primo jerk to me-because his skill made him an expert. It took a while, but we learned from each other. It was in his care that we really learned of my 2% propensity.

My vascular surgeon also knows my history. He knows that I am a 2%-er and administers treatments accordingly. In three years, he's done two surgeries on me. I also get the front of the line pass when I suspect a clot, because I catch them quick. The benefit of acting on an issue and not adopting a wait and see approach is that he listens to what I have to say. Would I have the same situation had I first met him while I was sitting in a hospital bed? I'm thinking no.

Yesterday, I had an appointment with Dr. J. My wound (one!) is finally closing up and there is a large patch of new, healthy, and very red skin where the ulcers used to be. I've graduated to a medicated dressing and a boot similar to the unna boot, but there's no more zinc oxide dressing.

Now that we're in the home stretch, he's more comfortable addressing what *could* have happened to me. We talked about being persistent when you know something is NOT right with your health. I'm damn lucky that I didn't wait around for that other appointment and listened to my gut. There may not have been this positive outcome.

He, nurse D and I talked about Jane's situation. His speciality is one needed primarily by diabetics. His breadth of knowledge with diabetes means he can offer some educated opinions. He had some very scary, but real, scenarios that might lie ahead. For instance, she wouldn't be considered for a transplant, if this ever were needed. The selection committee would look at her medical records and consider the hospitalizations as being non compliant with her treatment protocols.

Let's just hope it never comes to that.

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