I am not a hypochondriac. But I think that my doctor thinks I’m a hypochondriac.
When I moved to this area, I needed to find a new general practice for my medical needs. My insurance required approved providers, and I found one very close by. I had spent 5 years previously at a general practice where I actually felt valued and listened to, and had what I considered to be an excellent relationship with my attendant. I went in to my first appointment already a bit cynical about how any other practice could measure up.
My first appointment was with Catherine. She was pleasant and friendly, and I quickly explained that I was looking for a practice where I was listened to and taken seriously. I left that appointment feeling like I’d gotten lucky twice. My second appointment, 3 months later, was with the actual MD of the facility. I was surprised to find that she was a woman close to my age, but she was attentive and handled the appointment as expected. The third appointment had me scheduled with Keith, a PA-C, as was Catherine.
All of my appointments have been, since that time, with Keith. Keith is a nice man (that’s my list of pros). I have multiple issues with Keith, however. First, he has never been less than 25 minutes later than my scheduled appointment time to enter the exam room. At first, I thought perhaps other patients had needed his attention longer than they had been scheduled for and that’s why he was running late. But on one visit, after my allotted 30 minutes were up, however, he rushed me out, even though I told him I had some questions. After a couple of times, I managed to score the very first appointment of the day. I thought this might be the solution. Sadly, he was 30 minutes late to enter the exam room. So this has been an ongoing issue for me, and the staff in the front office all know this is his usual routine, but for some reason it’s okay.
But that’s only part of my struggle. As with most medical offices, patient notes are all on the cloud, and new notes are typed into the laptop at each session. Keith is a 2-fingered typist. If I ask a question while he’s typing, he’s asked me to wait a moment until he finishes entering the data on what we’ve just spoken about. Needless to say, my appointments consist mostly of reviewing blood tests (which I get every three months) and checking to see what medications I need new prescriptions for because I’m out of refills.
And beyond all that, I’m noticing changes in my body, and without a “Growing Old for Dummies” handbook, I don’t know if they are a part of growing old or a sign of something that might be concerning. When I ask, he often ignores my question or brushes it aside. I had a significant depressive episode in January of 2019, which lasted at least 50 days, and I mentioned it at my next appointment. I said that I hadn’t had an episode like that in a long time, and I do take Celexa (a mild-antidepressant) for my Seasonal Affective Disorder depression. He didn’t give me any indication that we should have a conversation about it, so I asked him to at least put it in my patient notes as a reference, should it happen again.
I also suffer from hyperhidrosis on my face and neck. My previous practice sent me to a kidney specialist as excessive sweating is a symptom of kidney issues. My kidneys are fine. This spring/summer has already been difficult in terms of sweating – when I’m sitting in my home in a room with air conditioning and the temperature is 74F, and I suddenly, for no reason and without any movement, break out into a sweat on my face, neck and back, there is something going on. This is something I tell him about at every visit, and he tends to bypass any conversation about it.
I’ve wanted out of the practice for a while now, but I’m not someone who likes to make ripples in the water, so I’ve vented to my bestie about it and suffered. When it came time to get on Medicare, I actually got quite happy because now I could use a change of insurance and accepted providers as an ‘excuse’ for why I’m leaving the practice without feeling guilty. Even if that practice is on the new insurance’s accepted provider plan, it’s an easy way to cut the cord and find someone else.
No, I don’t think I’m a hypochondriac. But, there are all those books out there on “expecting a baby” and “training a toddler” and other parenting types for first time parents. Why isn’t there a book for those of us who are experiencing old age for the first time??? I wish I could know which pains, aches and twinges are to be expected and which are just a normal part of aging!