Three years ago, I was getting ready to go to my fifth new doctor’s appointment. I’d already seen a general practitioner and a mix of dermatologists and allergists. This was yet another dermatologist. All I could think was, Another doctor, another person who will not look up from the clipboard and see me. But as I sat down in the exam room ready to tell my story for what felt like the 100th time, in walked a ray of hope. No clipboard for this doctor, only a smile and open ears to listen to my skin problems. The doctor took my hands into hers and said, “Heather, we will work together to make you feel better and get your skin healthy.”
Wow. Here was a doctor who was willing to establish a partnership. A doctor who saw me for the person inside and not the red bumpy skin that was bleeding onto her non-gloved hands. I’d finally found Dr. Right-for-Me, but it had taken some work and time.
In my search for Dr. Right, I had a “Don’t” picture I developed to help guide me. I created this picture using past experiences, but also using what others told me of their experiences. A majority of people you talk to have probably had a negative healthcare experience once or twice, but these experiences are actually helpful.
These experiences can show the importance of advocating for yourself and finding a doctor who will work with you.
So back to this picture. It starts with me in the waiting room dreading the impending conversation with this new doctor. I’d fill out the paperwork, pay my co-pay, follow the nurse down the dime-a-dozen hallway to the cold, sterile exam room where we’d sit in our respective chairs. I’m a pro at this, so I’d be prepared with an index card listing any past medications, as well as current medications.
The nurse would run through all the standard pre-exam questions. Then, finally, the million-dollar question: “What medications are you on?” I’d bring the card out and read the long list of names and dosages.
After a while, the doctor would walk in and ask how they could help. “I am here because my skin is on fire, and all I want to do is scratch,” I’d say. The doctor would look over the nurse’s notes on my chart and ask something like, “So you’re here to get help with what?”
Imagine that picture. Remember that scene in Back to the Future where Biff knocks on George McFly’s head saying, “Hello, McFly! Are you listening?” Well, if I’m sitting in the doctor’s office with the urge to reenact that scene—knocking on the doctor’s head—I know I’m not in the right place. That’s not Dr. Right.
Dr. Right will see my raw, irritated skin. Dr. Right will ask me what areas are most troublesome. Dr. Right will ask about my sleep pattern (which is non-existent because of the nighttime scratching). Dr. Right will look up from the clipboard to see me, the woman sitting in that cold, sterile room who is crying because she has been called ugly and been shunned by people who assume she is contagious.
Finding Dr. Right was hard, frustrating work, but I never gave up and finally found my Dr. Right. You, too, can find your Dr. Right.