How to Find A Doctor You Can Trust

Doctors appointments...the inevitable part of living with chronic illness. Us chronic illness warriors rely heavily on doctors and their wisdom, words, suggestions, and prescriptions. Without doctors, we would not be able to function, let alone survive. Some doctors do a better job at diagnosing and helping than others. Some doctors are a better fit and are better equipped to meet our needs than other doctors. That's just the way it works. After all, doctors are human too. They do not always have all of the answers and we do not always like what they have to say and how they go about saying it. That is why it is important to find a doctor that you not only like, but one that you trust.

Trust...that's a hard thing to do for a lot of people, myself included! There are a vast number of reasons as to why we have a hard time trusting others. For me, I believe it really stems from my OCD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder plagues my mind filling it with constant doubt and questioning, of myself and of others. It is hard for me to trust others when, 99% of the time I feel like I cannot trust my own brain. I am still working on trusting the professionals who are helping me in various aspects of my life. Every day. For me, it is an ongoing battle. And it is not that I do not want to trust them. I do! In fact, I think deep down I do trust the people who I am working with who are trying to help me. But when OCD creeps in, this trust gets clouded over with doubt, skepticism, and fear. My doctors get the brunt of this doubting, questioning, and reassurance seeking, including the doctor who diagnosed me with my rare metabolic disease. This post, however, is not about me, my OCD, and my trust issues. Rather, it is about how to find the right doctor for you. And the reason why I am babbling on about trust, is because trust is KEY in finding a good doctor who can meet your needs.

So - how do you find a doctor that is a good fit for you and your condition? How do you find one that you can, in fact, put your trust in? First, you are going to have to doctor hop. You are going to have to go through the doctors who make ignorant comments saying "everything is fine" and minimize the pain that you are experiencing. You are going to have to go through doctors who laugh at you, blame your symptoms on anxiety, or do not give you the time of day. You are going to have to go through doctors who, well, just do not believe you and dismiss you, or maybe even worse, misdiagnose you (and I say this could be worse because it can cause us patients physical and psychological/emotional harm - even if not done on purpose). Most people with chronic illness go through and experience this phenomenon. But who knows, maybe you are or will be the lucky person that finds the perfect doctor right off the bat - but let me tell you - that is pretty rare. So please please please do not get so discouraged from a bad doctor's appointment to where you give up. You can take something from every appointment, even if it is just knowing what you DON'T want in your doctor or knowing that you will never come back. At least now you know and you are one step closer to finding a good doctor for you. If your gut is telling you that something is off after an appointment, and you leave feeling dismayed and belittled, then by all means go with that gut feeling and find another doctor...which brings me to my next point.

Do your research. It is important to research your symptoms and conditions, as well as researching good doctors in your area. Get on the computer and spend some time looking up your already existing condition. If you are undiagnosed, research your symptoms. Look for the possibilities and familiarize yourself with what could be going on. This information and knowledge can help you to choose the right doctors for you to make appointments with. For example, if I am struggling with tachycardia and feeling dizzy or lightheaded all of the time, I may schedule an appointment with a cardiologist or a neurologist before an endocrinologist. Or if I experience muscle aches and pains, that may lead me to schedule an appointment with a rheumatologist over another specialist. If you are undiagnosed, really spend some time getting to know your body and symptoms. Read, research, and look at possibilities on your own before your doctor appointment. When you are looking for a doctor, do the same thing. Research and read about the doctors in your area and talk to other people! If there are no doctors in the area that you believe can help you, research doctors in other locations. Again, talk to other spoonies and chronic illness sufferers. Find out where others with the same issues have gone. Also, find out insurance information. Does insurance cover that doctor? How much will the co-pay be if there is a co-pay? Make sure that this is a doctor that you can see, and if this is a doctor that might be worth seeing. When you are very sick and no one can figure out what is wrong, if you have the slightest inkling that a doctor can help, fight to get in and to get that appointment. You never know unless you try.

Lastly, hear what the doctor has to say. When I started seeing my doctor a little over a year ago, I was convinced that he couldn't help me. I was 99% sure that all of the testing he planned on doing would come back negative. I put off the procedures out of fear that he would be wrong. I did not really want to hear what he was saying, because I had already made up my mind that it wouldn't be worth it. I almost gave up. If I hadn't eventually listened to my doctor and really heard him and gave him a chance, I would never know about this condition that I have and thus, would not be treating it. Listen to the doctor, hear 'em out. Give the doctor a chance before moving on. Unless they are rude or dismiss you and your situation, try it. You never know, they could be the doctor to discover what all of the other doctors have failed to find.

Trusting your doctor is important. You need to be able to have confidence in your doctor and your diagnosis in order to get better. The process of trying to find that right doctor may be beyond frustrating, but in the end once you have that doctor who is willing to really help and will not give up, it is definitely worth it.


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