Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Here We Go Again

When I tried to schedule a routine office visit with my rheumatologist, Dr. S. today, I was shocked to hear the receptionist tell me that she will be out of the office indefinitely.

I felt as though the floor had suddenly disappeared beneath my feet. Dr. S. has been providing excellent compassionate care for me ever since I was diagnosed seven years ago. Over the years, I have come to rely on her as my pillar of strength, my staunchest ally, the solid floor beneath me, supporting me through my autoimmune experience with empathy and a great sense of humor.

And today I hear via a very impersonal voice that she's just.....gone. I knew better than to ask for the specifics of her reason for leaving. Of course that information wouldn't be something that just anyone could ask for.

I felt as though I had lost not only my doctor, but a friend. I hope that she's well and happy. I would love to think that she's maybe with her husband on a tropical island somewhere taking a much-deserved rest.


This means that I am back to square one in finding a new rheumatologist and beginning that delicate but vital process of getting to know and trust each other. Rats.

Although, I am not the same wild-eyed, uninformed and frightened person that presented herself to Dr. S. all those years ago. Maybe we're not truly starting from scratch. I need far less hand-holding and autoimmune 101 tutorials than I did back then. I have some confidence in myself as an active participant in my care. I can call on past experiences with medications and diagnostics and procedures to assist me and my new physician in making future choices.

I need to remind myself that only one person, granted a very important person, but still only one person in my health care team needs to be replaced. I still have several trusted team members - my family doctor, my neurologist, my opthamologist, and my dentist, among others.

Ok. I can do this. Breathe, Julia, just breathe.

I wonder if Dr. J. knows what she's in for when I walk into her office next month.

pillar image courtesy of http://etc.usf.edu/clipart


annie said...

I hope your Dr. S. is not going through a serious illness, that could account for her indeterminate leave. I'm fortunate to have the same rheumatologist for the last 13 years, and while my other doctors are very helpful, my rheumatologist seems to have the burden of being primary caregiver. Wish you luck in finding another good doctor.

stephanie said...

Poor Julia... I feel your pain. It's okay to cry about it. :-)

Jenny P said...

I'm sorry that happened! I don't get why doctors, especially those who know we rely on them, don't keep us more in the loop with things like this. If they said 'indefinite', does that maybe mean she's expected to return? I hate finding new doctors sooo much, but actually find it harder to get a PCP I can work with than a Rheumie. Best of luck, I have a feeling any doctor you see is going to be in for the ride of their life...

Anonymous said...

I wish your doctor as won to the lotery and is on an island with a coktail ^_^
But I understand how you feel, finding someone you have trust in is hard. Good luck !

Vickie said...

Sorry to hear about your 'missing' doctor. I just hope you have better luck than myself. We moved from Reno to Las Vegas in November and it's not fun trying to find new physicians. The rheumy that I was referred to by two doctors was a dud. In 5 minutes and a glance at my labs, he told me I had 'getting old' problems and not sjogrens nor mixed connective tissue disorder. So my docs I had for almost 2 years are wrong??? Yes, I'm perturbed, so instead of shopping for a new doc I'm going to go to Mayo in Scottsdale. Hopefully, we can get some definitive answers. Good luck and keep writing Julia. I love your sense of humor and your knowledge! Vickie