Over the last decade I’ve really struggled to build a medical team I can trust and I think I have finally almost managed it… just in time to barely need most of them.
My greatest struggle has been finding a good general practitioner. For about two years I didn’t have one at all and strictly when to Urgent Care when needed.
This was largely due to the insurance I had at the time not being widely accepted in my area. However, with some doctor’s, I felt I was better off going to Urgent Care because the doctor’s hours were so terrible that it was impossible to get an appointment when I needed it.
I’ve left other doctor’s just because it felt that their level of care had waned. There are many good reasons to change doctors.
These days I have what I feel is a solid team of doctors who listen to me. Doctors who care about me and who will do their best to find answers for new issues as they arise.
I have a full team of doctors. It seems I have almost every type of specialist. It’s important that your doctor’s listen to you. And, also that they communicate with each other. However, probably most important is that they look at you as a whole person instead of just looking at their one particular area of focus.
All of the issues we deal with overlap. If a doctor is only looking at one piece, they are missing the much bigger picture.
General Practitioner (Laura Lee Taylor) – I finally have a good one that I really like.
She has a great team of Physician’s Assistants and Nurse Practitioners, which means that there’s someone available when I need to see someone. And, so far every one I’ve met has been great, took the time I needed, and listened to what I had to say.
My mom referred me to this particular doctor. She’d spoken highly of her many times, but it wasn’t until I took my mom to the doctor once and actually saw how the doctor and her staff interacted with my mom that I made the effort to become her patient.
It took a while (thanks to crappy insurance) but once I had insurance they would accept I was in (largely due to my mom being a patient there) and I’ve been quite happy with the care.
One big difference with her that I’ve found is that she’s the first GP I’ve had that actually tries to oversee my care. She forwards tests to my other doctors and stays in the loops. She doesn’t just refer and forget, choosing to only look at the simple issues.
Gynocologist (Sharon Callison) – Every woman needs a good gynecologist.
Whether you prefer a male or female is totally up to you. Early on I felt uncomfortable at the idea of a male gynecologist. However, after seeing a female one who made me feel like I was on a factory line, I’ll say that there are good ones and bad ones of both genders.
I’ve been with my current gynecologist for about 15 years and I really like her. However, it’s important to understand your doctor’s limitations. I opted to have her do my first laparoscopy for endometriosis.
She’d already provided me with a recommendation to see a specialist, but I didn’t want to wait that long. To be fair, I don’t think either of us really thought she’d find much. However, she was overwhelmed with the level of what she found and was unable to remove it all.
Endometriosis is not her fortay (pap smears and delivering babies is her thing). As a result I still had to see a specialist to have yet another surgery. I only wish I’d seen him first.
Pelvic Pain Specialist (Alex Childs)- If you have pelvic pain (or endometriosis) see a doctor who specializes in just that. It could save you a lot of pain and suffering.
My pelvic pain doctor is amazing. He’s now done two surgeries on me, each with less pain than the one before. (That first laparoscopy that my local gynecologist did was extremely painful).
Last week, he “graduated” me. After six years of his care and so many struggles, we’ve now had almost two years without pain. And, my endometriosis symptoms (beyond pain) are finally under control.
He’s still there if I find I need him later, but hopefully I won’t.
Neurologist (Scott Hitchcock) – I was first referred to my neurologist TMJ activated chronic migraines. Of course, we didn’t know it was TMJ at the time.
It was my neurologist that ran the million and one blood tests when I began experiencing eye pain and tingling in my arms. And, it was my neurologist who eventually referred me to a rheumatologist.
Since then I’ve had several bouts of chronic migraine and other symptoms and he’s been there to listen and follow-up each and every time.
Thankfully, the last year and a half I’ve had far fewer migraines and we’ve not needed to see each other nearly as often.
Rheumatologist – This last year I decided to move away from my rheumatologist.
I felt that our appointments were becoming pointless for occurring so often (simply so I could get medication refills). The co-pay for a specialist visit is much higher than my general practitioner and my GP was happy to make sure my prescriptions stayed filled (as long as I continue doing well).
That said, I may have to go back. My annual bloodwork showed some autoimmune markers that I will most likely need to have looked at.
TMJ Specialist (H. Clifton Simmons) – I don’t know where I’d be without this guy. He’s so worth the two hour drive.
After months of struggling with a chronic migraine that nothing relieved. It was my chiropractor who suggested it might be TMJ. I began researching and my research led me to Dr. Simmons. He was two hours away, but after emailing with him a bit I knew it was worth the drive.
He confirmed it was TMJ and explained why having braces put on would have activated it. Treatment is long-term – I’ll be wearing a retainer at night forever. The first two years were more intense, but I graduated from treatment earlier than expected.
I continue to use his office for all my dental needs because they understand my needs.
Edit (April 18, 2019): Sadly, I learned that Dr. Simmons passed away on January 1. He will be greatly missed.
Chiropractor (Donald Ross Jr) – Not all chiropractors are created equal (just like not all doctors of any type are created equal).
Never see a chiropractor that doesn’t do x-rays at your first visit. If they don’t do x-rays they have no idea what problems you may have that they may be making worse.
Dr. Ross has always been professional and really listens. He was there for me when no other doctor has been (many times over). He’s been the one to order MRIs and has referred me to other doctors when necessary.
When I was struggling with chronic migraines he suggested acupuncture (another service he provides) might help. It was the only thing that really did help at all. He was also the doctor who suggested that he thought I might have TMJ. He was right.
Gastro-Intestinal Doctor (Julian Billings) -I’ve gone through several GI docs in the last decade as I struggled to find the answer to many issues. Dr. Billings is amazing.
I recall some bad experiences with the doctor’s I had prior to him. The most glaring issue was when I asked my then doctor if food could be causing in any of my gastric symptoms (and if changing my diet would help). He said no outright.
A month later I completely changed my diet and saw marked improvement on so many levels. I believe if a GI doc doesn’t look at what you put in your gut (including meds) as a potential cause for your GI symptoms, there’s an issue.
I share this both to help those local to me know that these doctors are great. But, also so that everyone can see that there are great doctors out there and it is possible to build a solid team. But, it doesn’t happen overnight.
It’s taken me over a decade to build this team and I’ve been lucky. But, it’s not just been luck. I’d say that it largely comes from my unwillingness to accept anything less than solid healthcare. And, you shouldn’t either.
Do you have a team of doctors you trust? If not, it might be time to find new doctors.
- Talking With Your Doctor About Pain
- Are Doctor’s Biased Against Patients?
- 3 Steps to Choosing the Right Doctor
- 4 Good Reasons to Change Doctors