“Are You Happy with Yours?”
September 24, 2012
Two days before leaving on an out-of-state vacation recently, I started having the classic symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI). Increased spasticity, cloudy urine, frequent urination, burning. Within a day, the symptoms intensified and worsened; my bladder medication wasn’t working and I was leaking urine uncontrollably. The heat I felt from a slight fever contributed to the mayhem of it all.
Now bladder infections are nothing to mess around with, especially if you have MS. An infection like this not only is bothersome, but more importantly, it is painful and can quickly lead to trouble like a relapse and/or kidney problems. It needs to be addressed quickly.
Having dealt with bladder problems for over two decades and having to use self cathing to void, I know what to look for and what to do. But of course, I need my doctor to get me on an antibiotic ASAP.
It was a Sunday, and I was to leave on Monday. I called the office’s answering service, explained my situation, and requested the on-call doctor to contact me. I received a call within a half of an hour from the doctor. After a brief discussion, a prescription was called into my pharmacy immediately and I had the antibiotic in my hands soon after.
Now THAT’s a good doctor. To me, anyway!
Of course I had been a patient at the office for years, but nevertheless, he addressed my problem with no hassle or waiting. But, even if I wasn’t leaving on a trip the next day, the office has worked with me on this issue before. With past UTI’s, the office helps me on the same day that I call. I know how to take a “clean-catch” urine sample at home, take it to the office for a “squeezed-in” appointment that lasts no longer than five or ten minutes, and once verified that there is a bacteria, I get a script.
Having excellent physicians when living with a chronic illness is essential. It’s a lifetime relationship that requires frequent and unexpected visits, not a once-a-year annual checkup. I have doctors that I know rank in the top 10%. And I have doctors that treat many other MS patients and understand MS.
Now when it comes finding a physician, it is an individual and personal decision. By that I mean that one has to decide what he/she wants from their doctor and what the relationship needs to be. Find doctors and professionals that treat others with MS and fit your personality.
I’ll use myself as an example. I don’t want a hand holder; I want someone I can consult with. I am not a whiner and when I call, that means I need help ASAP. I want called back that day, action within a day. I don’t want to be dragged into the office when I’m too sick to get out of bed. When I go into the office, I don’t want to wait an hour. I’ve got a fatigue problem. I want to talk to my doctor, not the receptionist. I want my doctor to be connected with the latest studies and research.
Are you happy with your physician(s)? If not, it’s time to move on and find another one. You are in charge, not the doctor. You hired the doctor, and if you are not getting satisfaction, fire him/her and get another one.
Ask yourself what you want/need from the doctor and the office, such as good bedside manners; prompt responses; office visits; follow ups; experience; reviews. Interview the office/doctor before you make the first appointment.
So how do you find a good doctor? Get referrals from: a doctor you currently have that you do like, your local MS Society Chapter, family, people you know in the health field, and other MSers. Check their background and credentials on the internet. Two websites I use are www.vitals.com and www.healthgrades.com, but there are others; you can do a Google search using a phrase like “doctor reviews and credentials” to get other websites.
Finally, a couple of other tips:
• Go to the office or call on the phone prepared. Have your questions written down, have your problems written down with specifics. You will only have fifteen minutes with your doctor, if that. Don’t expect to be educated by the doctor. Expect answers to your questions. If you have a lot to talk about, schedule a longer appointment.
• If you have MS: Realistically, the most your doctor will do for you is to prescribe medications for symptoms, encourage disease modifying agents and make recommendations to other professionals (urologists, therapists…). Don’t allow yourself to feel pressured into anything you don’t want to take or do.
• You need to feel that you trust your doctor.