Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Being the One in Charge

Vince sees many different specialists to take care of his diabetes health and its complications in addition to his primary family doctor. He sees an Endocrinologist (diabetes specialist), Podiatrist, Ophthalmologist (retina specialist), Pain Management, and a Neurologist. I have learned through the years when accompanying Vince to his doctor appointments, that we need to be the ones in charge of his treatment, not the doctors. When dealing with multiple specialists to treat all of the aspects of a disease you have, it is important to be sure the doctors communicate with each other about your treatment since one thing affects
One thing we have also found out the hard way, is to always get a second opinion. Vince sees his pain management doctor to treat his peripheral neuropathy. He has seen two pain management doctors and two neurologists, and they did not all know how to treat his diabetic nerve pain. The first neurologist actually took one look at him and said he couldn’t help him and that he needed to go to pain management. Not knowing any better, this is what we did. A few years into treatment with the second pain management doctor, we hit a brick wall and nothing was working for his pain. His doctor finally suggested we try another neurologist in hopes they will have an idea on how to treat him. As luck had it, I picked a name from the insurance list, and we found his current neurologist. He was very nice and understanding and admitted that very few doctors know how to treat PN but he does. I asked dozens of questions, even ones I knew the answer to, and wanted to be sure we found a good doctor this time. We have seen him twice now, and so far so good. He is even able to reach after hours and doesn’t make you feel like you are bothering him. The new medicine he prescribed, slow as it may be, seems to be starting to affect on his pain and we have seen slight improvement. There is a long ways to go, but we feel confident that this doctor along with the pain management doctor will finally get him some relief.
Another thing that is very convenient is that our family doctor takes care of all blood work that is needed for the specialists. Some family doctors do not do this and you are referred to a special testing facility. Any blood work that needs to be done, can be done right in their office, and the results are sent directly over to the specialist. This also helps to facilitate everything to be sure tests are done in time for each appointment. Knowing how often to see each specialist and being in charge of your own health care is a great help in getting the best out of your physicians.

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