Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Good Doctor

One of the stresses of life, at least for me, is finding a new physician.  It's always a crap shoot as to what I'm going to find.  Whether I am moving to a new city or even if I develop a new ailment that requires a specialist, I am always concerned with finding the perfect doctor.  Because for me, it's more than finding a doctor who knows what he's doing; I also have to actually like the person.  My goal is for us to build a professional relationship, a partnership where we can both be my health advocate.  I need someone who is straight with me, honest with me, and not afraid to get in my face and hold me accountable.

I will say that I have been pretty fortunate in the doctor department.  There have been 5 physicians in my life who have helped get me through some difficult times:
  • Dr. Joel Taubin was my GP for the 10 years I lived in DC.
  • Dr. Mark Nelson was the cardiothoracic surgeon during my quadruple bypass in 2005.
  • Dr. Mark Stolar was my GP for the 8 years I lived in Chicago.
  • Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones remains my cardiologist since 2005.
  • Dr. John Hefferon was the orthopaedist during my shoulder arthroscopic surgery in 2011.
Whether it was something as trivial as a sore toe or as convoluted as a sternum infection, these physicians proved to me (whether quickly or not so) that they actually cared about ME, that we were partners in my good health, and that the responsibility of my continued good health was in my hands.

Don't get me wrong - this is a very short list from the unfortunately large group of doctors I have seen in my adult years.  For example, both of the cardiologists I had while living in DC sucked: one removed me from all medications once my health "seemed" to be improving (which then only caused more problems), while the other one completely misdiagnosed me with cardiomyopathy (which I've never had), telling me to prepare for a transplant (which I didn't need), and instructed me to never take an aspirin (which I do every day).

Why bring this up  now?  Because it is doctor time again in my life.  With my recent diagnoses of shingles, I needed to find a new GP in a new city with no one to ask for a reference and no real starting point.  It's tricky.  I am at the mercy of my insurance carrier's website and my own research.  It's the virtual version of opening up a phone book and just dropping my finger on a name.  

But I did find one here in Miami and had my first appointment with him this week.  In short, I like him.  He's originally from DC and is a relative newcomer to Miami, just like me.  This has already created a bond.  And he loves to communicate by email, which is something I have almost had to force some of my doctors into over the years.  The jury is certainly still out and time will tell, but it feels like we are off to a good start.