I need to vent before total exhaustion sends me to my recliner for a nap. Are you as tired of going to the doctor as I am? In fact, I could get sick thinking about it.
I spend days out of each month and hours out of those days going to different doctors trying to manage the myriad of symptoms multiple sclerosis brings. I have a neurologist, a urologist, a gynecologist, an ophthalmologist, a chiropractor, a dentist, a psychotherapist, a physical therapist, an infusion specialist and, of course, the obligatory primary care physician.
One would assume that with 11 healthcare providers my medical care would be the least of my worries. Actually, it is one of my biggest sources of anxiety. And that’s because I don’t really know which of these providers is overseeing my care. OK, I’ll give my dentist a pass. But a few days ago I arrived at the lab to have blood drawn with two scripts in my hand—one from my primary care physician, and the other from my neurologist. The tech laughed out loud and explained she would have to draw at least 20 tubes, which was way over the limit for one patient for one day. The stricken look on my face must have touched her on some level. Tears welled in my eyes, and rather than dismissing me, the tech called me back to her office, identified all the duplicate tests and managed to reduce the number of tubes to a manageable amount. She assured me the results would be sent to both providers, then shook her head and said, “If only they would talk to each other.”
Communication is definitely an important concept when trying to manage your health care under normal circumstances, but for those of us with chronic problems it is vital. I have discovered that peripheral providers, like the lab techs or a pharmacist can be great facilitators of that elusive communication. My pharmacist is like a guard dog. He has picked up on possibly serious drug interactions that could happen by having so many doctors prescribing different drugs. Recently, the urologist prescribed a drug and my pharmacist would not fill it because of my allergy to sulfa. (A component of this particular medication was triggering allergic reactions in people sensitive to sulfa.) Well, I was so relieved my pharmacist was on the case!
I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted trying to keep it all straight. In the end, I’m the one who is really in charge of my medical treatment, I guess. In the meantime I’m headed to the recliner. I have an appointment in an hour.
Susan Skoney was diagnosed in 1999. She lives in western New York with her husband Michael and children Hannah and Alex. She worked many years in public relations and advertising, and has just started writing about her MS in the last few years.