Friday, April 20, 2018

Hidden progress

We all go to the doctor at some point. How and when may vary depending on our circumstances, but they usually break down to a few common reasons: Because we’re sick, because it’s time for a routine check-up, or maybe some combination. Sometimes it might seem like nothing has really changed, but even then it may turn out to be more than it seems.

Today I went to the doctor, the first time since the unfortunate trial of a beta blocker called Bisoprolol. When I dumped that drug and switched back to Atenolol, they wanted me to come in to have my blood pressure and heart rate checked, and I needed an influenza vaccination, too, so it all came together today. It turned out to be a good visit.

The doctor is referring me to a private cardiologist who specialises in heartrate because he may have special insight into the way forward. I asked my GP if the pill is permanent; it is, and because without it my heart may become enlarged, which is bad. I also asked how it affects occasional need for higher heart rate, and she said it doesn’t stop that, it just keeps my ordinary heartrate at no more than 70bpm. I didn’t ask any of my other questions, because I decided I may as well ask them of the specialist.

What I hope will happen is that given that he’s a specialist, he can head off some of the trouble, that is, given the two drugs I’ve reacted so badly to, he can rule out drugs likely to have a similar effect on me. Related, he may have special insight into a drug that may be better for me. Or, at the very least, being a specialist he’s likely to have a particular view on the way forward that a non-specialist wouldn’t have. I think this is a very good idea.

So, while it may seem that nothing much happened today—I’m still on the same drug, after all—the referral to a specialist is a way of moving forward, and probably with a little less trial and error. This is a good thing and could turn out to change everything.

And there’s one more thing that was a welcome surprise: The flu jab. The doctor gave me the flu jab first thing, then carried on with the consultation. My previous doctor used to have the nurse do the flu jab after the consult, and I had to wait a further 15 minutes before I could leave (to make sure there was no reaction). The way the new doctors do it meant I could leave right away. That was awesome!

I actually told the doctor how good this way of doing this is, and she said, “I think time is valuable.” I laughed and said, “We do, too.” And, we do. But this is the first time in my decades in New Zealand that a doctor has taken a concrete step to respect MY time as much as theirs. That’s pretty remarkable, really.

So, yeah, it may sound like nothing much happened today, but things DID happen. I got a referral to a specialist who may be able to hurry this process along, and I found a small thing that made me like this new practice even more. Those are both very good developments.

Sometimes it might seem like nothing has really changed, but even then it may turn out to be more than it seems.

Important note: This post is about my own personal health journey. My experiences are my own, and shouldn’t be taken as indicative for anyone else. Similarly, other people may have completely different reactions to the same medications I take—better or worse. I share my experiences because others may have the same or similar experiences, and I want them to know that they’re not alone. But, as always, discuss your situation and how you’re feeling openly, honestly, and clearly with your own doctor, and always feel free to seek a second opinion from another doctor.

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