Why liking your doctor makes a huge difference.

When I think about the past two years in terms of doctors, I have a veritable cast of characters that come to mind. Getting married, becoming unemployed, going on my husband’s insurance meant switching from Kaiser, where all of everything was neatly contained in one HMO system, to the wild west (but totally awesome) land of PPO. I didn’t need referrals to see specialists for all that ailed me; and for once, my histamine-hating body rejoiced at the fact that I could pick my allergist based on reviews, proximity, and office hours of convenience. Granted, there were some trials as I adjusted to the PPO plan, like the fact that I needed several different docs — an allergist, a primary care doc, a dermatologist, a lady doc, and an endocrinologist (apparently I’m high maintenance). I hit gold with my allergist, but didn’t so much love my primary care doc. Instead of a doctor who actually listened to my complaints about my weight, I got the old “You’re not trying hard enough. Exercise more, eat less.” Now. Surely there’s some truth to that. But had this doctor taken the time to *really* investigate my claims, they’d find that blood tests don’t lie, and neither was I. So I dumped him, and moved on to the next. I bumbled around with a few different doctors, and now, a year later, I feel that I finally have my medical dream team assembled.

Curvaceous and Stunning Vaudeville Star Lillian Russel

Yesterday I had a two month follow up with my endocrinologist. I like this guy, because not only does he have a great sense of humor (reminding me that I was born in the wrong era, because my weight back then would have been highly desired — even mentioning the curvy old film star Lillian Russel, see below!), he TAKES TIME TO EXPLAIN THINGS. As in, he actually busts out his doctor pen, and starts to draw diagrams on the paper sheet on the exam table. Yesterday, he drew a diagram of the kidney’s role in weight loss, and why a long-term low carb diet can be challenging on the kidneys. (We’re trying a 1,300 calorie¬† day diet now, with moderate “good” carbs.) I had some very pointed questions about some of the hormone issues I’ve been having, and he gave me very direct, yet polite, responses. There’s a bedside manner that’s needed anytime you’re working with the public, especially when it’s sensitive stuff. I don’t need to be coddled, but if I ask a direct question, I want a direct answer, but delivered softly. This guy has it mastered — even making jokes about Dexter while taking blood. Schwing! I have what’s called “white coat hypertension”. I’m usually nervous at doctor’s appointments, so yesterday, my first blood pressure reading was sky high (156/92. YIKES!). I now know to ask the doctors to re-check mid-way through the appointment. I’ve known this for years, yet Kaiser wouldn’t retest me, and I ended up having to visit a hypertension clinic where, no surprise, my repeat blood pressure readings were great. The doc yesterday got me laughing, took my blood pressure a second time while cracking jokes about my Metformin induced nausea, and lo and behold, my blood pressure was a relatively healthy 126/79. That? Is a good doctor. One who listens, takes note, suggests helpful modifications, and cares.

So who cares if I like my doctor, right? I care. You have to decide to take action after leaving your doctor’s office, to try and manage the things YOU can control. Some things you can’t control, but some you can. I left my appointment feeling encouraged, positive, and motivated to keep working on my weight loss. And that’s why I realize it’s important to like the person who’s helping to take care of and treat YOU. Because YOU matter at the end of the day, and to keep yourself in tip-top shape, “liking” the person who’s giving you the orders is super important. Have you found a doctor you like?

 

 

 

 

 

Medically speaking, attitude is everything.

On Tuesday I had my long awaited follow up appointment about “Weight management” after starting my thyroid medications. I was nervous, not knowing what to expect, as while I’d been on my best behavior food and exercise wise, my body likes to go rogue. We don’t have a scale in the house anymore either, and after several crushing weigh ins, I was expecting to hop on the scale and be met with a gain, because that’s always what happened before. Why should doing everything right matter? I got on the scale. Down three more pounds. WHEW!!!!! Now, 3 more pounds in a month and a half is devastatingly slow progress. However? It’s progress. Three pounds in a month, after ten months, is 30 pounds. I was relieved, and to make it even better, my blood pressure was fantastic – 110 over 79. As I celebrated my small but valiant victory, the new doctor came in and said, “Aw, too bad you haven’t had much progress, have you?”

My happy mindset deflated like a cheap balloon. I recognize that medically three pounds in a month and a half sucks – – but for a patient who gained NINE POUNDS after a 12 day detox eating nothing but cauliflower and medical shakes, it’s nice to see my body actually reacting in the way it should. As I explained to the doctor that I was actually relieved and happy with the weigh in, I realized how important attitude is. No, it’s not ideal, but a solid, “hey, we’re on the right track” at least, is invaluable to someone who needs a little bit of cheerleading. Most people refer to their doctor’s demeanor as “Bedside Manner”, and while I don’t need information to be sugarcoated, I would like a little bit of optimism.¬† This applies to all things medically related; a lazy liver, ridiculous allergies to feathers, even scary-looking but benign ovarian cysts. When shit’s gone wrong, some positive encouragement from people who know what they’re talking about is hugely helpful. Otherwise, Dr. Google and I spend lots of late night hours together, my anxiety growing as I comb through horror stories of the very conditions that ail me.

There’s part of me that thinks I need to just “man up” and look past a need for rainbows and sunshine in a medical environment. After all, medically, obesity sucks. It’s dangerous, it’s a huge risk factor, and for most people, it should be simple to treat. However, I’m not most people, and I’m also not the type of person who can easily man up. I’m sensitive. I’m artistic. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t. But; attitude is everything — and a positive one can make a big difference.

Have you had trouble with doctors having a more direct bedside manner? Does it bother you or not? Why or why not?