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Breaking Up With Your Doctor!

In my line of work at Creek Stone in Amarillo, TX, I have the privilege of getting to know our patients fairly well. It has become a theme in the last few weeks at work when I am going through patients’ medical history that I am finding more and more people not feeling that they have received the medical attention and care that they have been needing. I have witnessed several patients coming in to our practice as a last resort. Most of them have been dealing with chronic pain for years and in all their dealings with their GP’s, they have found little to no results in managing or resolving their pain.

As someone working in the medical field, in particular dealing with patients that are in significant pain, this is a very frustrating complaint to hear about as often as I do. I don’t believe it has been made clear to patients, whether from doctors offices or insurers, that you can in fact, fire a doctor. So this blog is being written in an attempt to clear up that train of thought by sharing my personal experience which led to me firing a doctor, and unfortunately pestering another (all for good reason!).

I have, in my own medical history, had to deal with doctors that were very dismissive of my complaints and unwilling to put forth much effort into finding out what was wrong. When I was just 13 years old I began to have cardiac episodes where my BPM would sky rocket to 200+ within seconds, and last anywhere between 10-15 minutes all the way up to an hour or so. For those of you that are unaware, a normal resting heart rate is anywhere between 60-100 BPM. Having your heart rate increase so quickly and to such an intense level even for a few minutes is exhausting. Being in that state caused me to have pain in my chest, and you could physically see my chest and neck rattling. I also experienced severe fatigue and that sensation in the back of your neck that you feel right before passing out. It was the worst. These episodes occurred at random. I could never predict when they were going to happen or how long they would last.

Explaining what was going on to my pediatrician didn’t lead to much. She suggested it may have been brought on by anxiety, or because of some dietary deficiency. She didn’t seem to be worried too much at all in fact she did not even refer me to a cardiologist. To be honest I got the impression she didn’t really believe what I was telling her. She’d measure my heart rate and blood pressure and listen to my heart with the stethoscope but everything always sounded perfectly normal.

Eventually after several years of my pushing the subject, and after getting a new primary physician, I was finally able to get a referral to a cardiologist and made an appointment immediately. By this time, I was 18. When I explained to my cardiologist what was happening she didn’t act like I was exaggerating or crazy. I immediately was scheduled for an EKG reading and we got to work. Unfortunately after several EKG’s there was no sign that anything out of the ordinary was happening. I was very frustrated at this point and my cardiologist could tell. However we had spent about 6 months at this point trying to figure out what was happening without result, and it seemed like she was beginning to doubt there was an issue.

I took a break for about 2 years after that and just dealt with my cardiac episodes when they would arise. It was not a fun time. By the time I was 20, I noticed I was having more frequent episodes, and they would last for longer periods of time. The average time I’d be having this crazy heart rate wound up being 2 hours. It was affecting my ability to work (because I’d have to lay down or I’d be at risk to pass out) and that simply would not due.

When I called my cardiologist, we decided another EKG wouldn’t work so I wore a heart monitor for a month. The entire month I wore it, I had no episodes – go figure. But this time I was determined to figure out the problem and requested I have a heart monitor for a longer period of time. This was not their policy at my cardiologist’s office however, I pushed the issue and my cardiologist finally relented.

A couple months later I finally caught an episode in the act and sent the information to the office. It didn’t lead to much. My doctor suggested that the next time I had an episode I should get a ride to their office and, without an appointment, they would take me straight back and run tests to find out what was going on. Eventually this wound up happening and led to my being diagnosed with Sinus Tachycardia.

The good news was the condition is not fatal just inconvenient, and unfortunately, aside from taking a beta blocker, there isn’t much I can do about this issue. Ablation isn’t an option since, with Sinus Tachycardia, it’s chemical and not caused by a nerve issue much like Ventricular Tachycardia. While I don’t have an effective treatment for my condition aside from tips of how to handle episodes as they happen, the fact that I know what I am dealing with made me feel SO much better.

The moral of my story is this: had I not pushed and pushed when all the doctors I went to told me there wasn’t an issue, I never would have been diagnosed. I never would have learned what I could do to manage my symptoms when they arise and I would still be scared to this day every time I had an attack. I learned early on that there is a two way relationship that should be happening between you and your doctor. Their word is not always the final one and it is important that if there is a problem you can communicate well with your doctor.

When communication fails and there is still an issue, at times it is best to go your separate ways. Just as with any other relationship in life. I also learned that you shouldn’t fire your doctor after one bad visit. You should always give them a chance to correct an issue before walking away.

If you have found yourself in a situation with your doctor and it feels that they are just not the right fit for you, there are a few things to consider before taking action. Consider speaking with the office manager if attempts to address issues with your doctor directly have not led to any changes. If you are at an office with many practitioners, this may lead to you being put under another doctors care without having to find a whole new office.

If you are leaving a GP or another practitioner you see regularly for maintenance you should make sure that you have another one lined up to take their place. If the reason you are leaving is over a more serious matter such as unprofessional or down right incompetent behavior, you should not hesitate to report it to your state’s medical board.

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3501 W. 45th St., Suite T Amarillo, TX 79109
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