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?

 

 

 

 

 

Taking a Stand

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Last week I did something I normally have trouble doing. I took a stand. I suffer from horrible, year-round allergies – so bad, that for a year I had to get four weekly shots. I now get shots about every three weeks and have been getting them for a total of 2.5 years. I am most allergic to Kentucky Blue Grass and Meadow Fescue, which are the most common grasses. I have a bi-annual check up with my allergist that I dread – not because he tells me I’ll still be getting stabbed with things that my make body wheeze and itch for another year, but because he ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS brings up my weight. Doesn’t matter that he brings up my weight. What matters is that he dwells on it.

Leo loves the grass... but if I did this I would break out in hives!

It’s a normal thing when you’re obese. Your health is in danger. It seems appropriate to mention it once or twice, but to bring it up and dwell on it? Not necessary. The last time I saw this particular doctor, he grilled me about my fitness routine and my eating plan. When I exclaimed that I was struggling with it he instructed me to “try harder”.  When I said I exercised at least three times a week, he said I needed to do it every day. He then went on to say that maybe after I lose the weight, my allergies will go away. The appointment, which was supposed to be about my allergies, turned into a critique of my lifestyle, and I left with a prescription for Flonase and a deflated self-esteem.

So how did I take a stand? I received an appointment card in the mail for this allergist, and I while I was getting this week’s shots, I asked for a new doctor. It felt good. The nurse asked why and I no problem saying that I felt like he was a bully about my weight. She remarked that he “meant well” and I said, “he may mean well but there’s a right way to bring it up.”

The new doctor might bring up my weight, but hopefully he’ll do it in a kind, “this is a reminder” type of way, and not as in “THE REASON YOUR SKIN ITCHES AND YOU HAVE HORRIBLE ALLERGIES IS BECAUSE YOU’RE FAT”. Because I’m sorry – I’m no MD, but fat does not equal allergies.

My penchant for popcorn isn’t the direct cause of grass-induced hives. If it was, I’d have quit that popcorn a long time ago – and kissed my fat, and my allergies, goodbye.

Don't worry - we didn't even make it through half of this bowl!