When I think back to our first appointment, you asked me ‘Why Us?’ I knew I didn’t have time to tell you the full story, I only told you the short important parts. I had known for two weeks I had to find a new PCP. When I first found out I was devastated. Dr. D had been my doctor for the better part of 30 years. Yes there was a gap in there when I thought, like many 20-something year olds that I was healthy and didn’t need a doctor, so I didn’t see him. In that 10 years, he closed his small town private practice and went into a larger practice ran by Novant Health. So when I became ‘sick’ in late July/early August and found myself under his care again, I was essentially in their eyes, a new patient. To us, I was not. My older medical files, are locked in storage somewhere. I’m not exactly sure how to obtain those, that is a question I need to ask him at some point.
The day I learned I needed to change PCPs I was angry and scared. Having a rare condition can do that to a person. It’s hard to find doctors that understand or that are willing to take the time to learn about them, or that even want to. It took me two tries to find a Hematologist that understood Antiphospholipid Syndrome. My first Hematologist left me with an official diagnosis, a lot of questions, and a big ‘see you in 3 months.’ He would not answer any questions I had and did not see the seriousness in my condition because he was not familiar with it. Luckily Dr. D, had dealt with one other patient in the 30 years he had been a doctor that had APS so he was at least familiar with it. Dr. D was a new doctor when he became my doctor. I was 6 weeks old, he saved my life then, and in a way, he saved my life this past year too. He did a lot of hand-holding over the first few months of my journey. It was a scary time, I know not many doctors would have taken the time he did to assure me I was going to be okay, but he did.
When I started my search for a new PCP I had a few requirements I was looking for. First I needed someone close by. We had spent months driving 1.5 hours to see Dr. D for my monthly appointments. He was over seeing my INR but we had found an independent lab down here that was doing my draws and then faxing him the results each week. It worked, but it was not perfect. After I started narrowing down practices that were covered by my insurance I started researching various doctors. Your name came up fairly quickly, because you’re in the C’s. The more I read, the more intrigued I was. A newer doctor, intelligent, I stumbled across your residency biography and interests and you immediately sounded like you would be a good fit. I considered it a benefit that you were a new doctor because I felt that it gave me a better chance at finding a PCP with more up to date information on APS. There were a couple of others that were on the list so I took a couple of days to decide, but eventually I decided to make an appointment with you. I called HFP to make an appointment, and the lady that answered the phone, attempted to set my appointment up with another provider. I quickly explained to her I had already chosen which provider I wanted to see and asked if you were accepting patients still. She excitedly said yes and set up my first appointment.
So there, that’s the real answer, to that first question you asked me, ‘Why, Us?’ and why I answered with “Well, this practice because it is close by, and you specifically because you are a new doctor, because of your clinical interests, and I am hoping that combination will give me a better chance of having a doctor with up to date information on APS and that I will be of interest to you.”
Appointments, even though mine are longer than average, are never long enough for me to say thank you adequately enough. Thank you. Thank you for meeting my expectations at that first appointment and every appointment since then. Thank you for being there on the days when I’m flaring and need to make impromptu appointments, and I’m having some of my worst days. It helps to have a doctor that is as compassionate and caring as you. It also means a lot to have a doctor that can take one look at me and tell if I’m having a ‘bad flare’ or if I’m okay. I know part of that is because I see you so often right now.
Thank you for taking the time to see me as a person, not just an illness. A lot of times when a person is being treated by a bunch of specialists for a chronic illness, that is what they become to their doctors, or at least that is how it seems. Thank you for having the ability to laugh and having a pleasant personality. Those things are important especially to patients that have to see their doctors so often.
Thank you for helping me get to a full diagnosis, and seeing that Lupus isn’t a textbook condition that takes the same course in every patient. So many doctors get locked into believing it has to present in a specific fashion and forget to look beyond lab results and listen to their patient’s symptoms and family history.
Thank you for being an amazing doctor, and for being exactly what I need in a PCP. In a lot of ways, you remind me of Dr. D, and in a lot of ways, you are completely different. Both of those things, are the perfect balance. It was difficult transitioning from a doctor I had a life-long relationship with to a new doctor, but you made that transition easier in a lot of ways. Sometimes I forget you’ve only been my doctor since the end of January.
Thank you for going the extra mile, for remembering the little details, and making me feel safe.
Dorothy (Oh I’m sorry Nicole)