A Good Doctor

I have begun seeing the Doctors that I wasn’t able to see this summer as a result of my medical setback.

This was a daunting task before this summer. I have so many doctors that help me with my health after brain injury and I have a number of doctors for my general health.   I have had to find new doctors after moving to Austin, and I am still getting my team in place.

During the summer, I had to concentrate my energy on getting back my health and functionality that I lost as a result of my dentist not understanding how fitting my mouthpiece might (would ?) effect someone like me who manages persistent symptoms after brain injury.

I prioritized well over the summer.   And I am successfully better and much more functional.

As I think about it, I am actually very lucky that my medical setback did not last longer than it did.

(It’s easy for me to think reflexively that it should have taken less time.   And so its useful to be reflect and conclude that in reality I should be grateful that it’s over and that it only took as long as it did.)

I used the skills I learned in rehab and used my experiences managing my brain injury as well as helpful information from my doctors and health professionals and colleagues with expertise in brain injury, and I got better.

Now, I am needing to see the doctors that I had to postpone seeing, because I couldn’t see them while prioritizing getting back to my functionality before the setback happened.

The number of doctors I was not able to see this summer because I had to miss annual appointments during the summer is about 5.

I have another 5 doctors that I was not able to see before I had my setback.

As I thought about it, I realized that I was already backlogged seeing Doctors before my setback this summer.    The 10 “snow” days in Austin last year where I suddenly needed to do childcare for my child who did not have school, put me behind the schedule I had created.  And my husband and I needing to help care for our parents during their health issues over this past year, meant that I had already prioritized taking care of their more immediate health needs, over my regular appointments.    I had thought I would catch up on these over the summer while my child was at camp.   But I was not able to do that because of the medical setback.

And as I thought about it more, I realized that an appointments with one doctor (and followup) had totally slept off my radar screen last year.  Unintentionally.

My first step was to visit  my primary care doctor and bring her up to speed with my health issues over the past year.

She was happy to see me and listened to what my health picture had been like since I had seen her a year ago.  During my appointment, I also asked her to help me prioritize which doctors to see first and which ones next.

I thought that getting her perspective as an MD would help me on this for 2 reasons.  Since she knows more about my overall health picture than I do, she would be able to help me make priorities.  And, if other doctors complained that they weren’t prioritized high enough, I could bring that feedback back to her.  And it would not be personal to me.   As someone with a brain injury, I know that my prioritizing skills are often compromised and so I try to find ways to compensate by enlisting others to help.

My doctor and I prioritized potential cancer issues first.   That meant 5 appointments for cancer-related appointments.  I had had an abnormal mammography last year and chose to be very cautious about resolving it and needed to follow the protocol on followup appointments for that.   I also need to have a baseline colonoscopy.

We also prioritized seeing any doctor who needed to write a refill for a prescription.

I have 2 prescriptions I take.  These are for non-brain injury issues.  So that was 2 more appointments.

And, I need to see a Dentist for a overdue cleaning and a second opinion.

I have learned from painful experience that seeing more than one doctor a week is pushing it for me.   I can do it if I have to, but not unless I have to.

The reason why its not a good idea for me is that I need time to prepare for doctor appointment and after the appointment.   I have to work hard to get a plan for getting the Doctor’s recommendations and followups in to my schedule.  The last step is harder for me than anyone might think because of my persistent executive functioning issues.  And its often the step that gets overlooked unintentionally (still).  Appropriate followup is better for my health, than forgetting to followup.

My plan also included that I would make it a priority to see the prioritized doctors in October and November of 2014.

(I learned years ago from a Doctor in DC to avoid making routine appointments to see doctors in December, if possible.   That strategy helps me to manage the increased activities of the holidays, and I try to maintain that plan no matter what.  With stress, I am less likely to get it on my schedule to followup, so its a good strategy for many reasons).

My doctor and I agreed that once I was able to see the first group of doctors, I  would prioritize seeing the next group of doctors that we had categorized as lower priority.  In 2015.

After we finished prioritizing my next medical visits, my primary care doctor gave me some useful validation, about what I was going through.  She normalized it.

She said that figuring out how to get this many doctors in my schedule would be hard for anyone, not just for someone like me who was trying to manage persistent symptoms after a brain injury. That helped me get perspective.

I have had many doctors complain to me in ways that have not been sympathetic to the truth that my medical issues make it more difficult for me to find good medical care.   And that this is out of my control.   I work hard to manage my health care, and I am always appreciative when a doctor gets how hard I work to get good health care, even when I have a back log of appointments.   Or especially when, I should say.

I trust my primary care doctor and her validation and help is tremendous.   It makes an overwhelming process of seeing doctors, less overwhelming.

And when I went to see one of the doctors we had prioritized that I should see, he said to me “we are glad to see you!”

I had not seen him in over a year, when I had to cancel an appointment, because of a snow day.

He said “we are glad to see you!” and “lets figure out the next step, now that you are here”.

I had written him a long note about why I hadn’t been there and what I had done to move the ball forward since I had seen him last, even though I hadn’t been there.

It was a long note.   He read it and he understood it.

He said, “We are ready to take the next step together”.

Both my primary care doctor and the second doctor are good doctors.

I feel they are on my team and they value how hard I am also working to manage my health as best I can.

I feel they are indeed partners in my health.

Being in their office is healing for me and figuring out next steps is a healing experience for me.

I want to go back when its time to go back to their office.

Yahoo!

Prioritizing with my primary care doctor helped me.  I felt less overwhelmed.

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