The Good Doctor

The colder weather is creeping in, and the vines that have clung to the outside of my building and my window in particular have changed to a bright red, signaling shorter daylight hours. The school of thought used to be that the cold stopped the leaves from keeping their green; instead, now we know that it’s the actual length of daylight hours that makes the leaves change from green to gold and red and burgundy.
2016-10-18-14-14-03Now that we are staying inside more, bacteria are just rolling around and proliferating like little Tasmanian devils. The little jerks caught up with me. First I caught the flu, and after five days of that it turned into a double ear infection (the nurse practitioner said both ears were severely affected but neither had perforated, luckily). Three days later I developed bronchitis…because why not?

In the middle of that mess while I was running a fever, I kept my appointment with my GI doctor because he’s very much booked ahead of time and it would take me months to get another appointment. I desperately need my medication for acid reflux because missing it for even a few hours is agony, plus I needed to discuss my new MCAS diagnosis with him so he would understand the importance of keeping me on the medications. He mentioned at my last appointment in February that he wanted to wean me off of the medications because he didn’t want me to develop long-term usage side effects like osteoporosis. Now it looks like I’m just going to have to live with it and be the old lady hunched over the shopping cart.

I had forgotten between February and now how much I like Dr. Chaudhary. I’m even going to use his real name because that’s how much I like him – no need to hide him behind behind a stage name. He is one of the few doctors who has not sent me away and he is not intimidated by the complexity of my body.

Dr. Chaudhary knows my primary care doctor, and so we chatted about her for a moment. Then we talked about my new diagnosis, and I thought ahead of time to bring the paper copy of Dr. Afrin’s notes. I knew Dr. Chaudhary would have access to Dr. Afrin’s notes in the system even though they belong to two different practices, but because Dr. Afrin’s notes are INSANE – and they are – I thought it would be better to bring the paper so he could flip instead of scroll.

Dr. Chaudhary paused and looked at me and said, “Can I be honest with you? I want to be honest with you.” I told him yes, that would be fine. He said, “I don’t think that Dr. Afrin can help you with the problem with the CSF, sweetie.” I immediately started to get teary-eyed, but told him that that was what I was thinking too, it’s just a very emotional conclusion for me, and he said he understood. (Even as I’m writing this, I am crying.) Dr. Chaudhary said that Dr. Afrin will probably get a lot of the other stuff under control if we can get the right combination of medicine going. I obviously know the drill.

Dr. Chaudhary then asked me who my neurosurgeon was. I had to explain to him how I had tried to go through every healthcare system in Minneapolis/St. Paul, as well as the Mayo, as well as petition to be sent to Johns Hopkins and to the Cleveland Clinic, but was turned down every time (the doctor handed me a tissue). I also told him about the three doctors at the U of M who misdiagnosed me and how it affected my request with the NIH Undiagnosed Diseases Network turning me down, and how my primary care doctor didn’t advocate for me. He seemed especially troubled by the last bit because she was his former student and co-worker but he didn’t ask any further questions on that matter. I asked Dr. Chaudhary if he had any connections, but he said that the one person he would send me to went back to India about five years ago, so that was no longer an option.

This whole exchange about my ongoing neurological mystery took about 7 minutes. What makes him a good doctor – hell, a GREAT doctor – is that neurology is NOT his area. Dr. Chaudhary still talked to me as if I knew what I was talking about, and he certainly didn’t offer up lame diagnoses like myasthenia gravis which has nothing to do with me (ahem, University of Minnesota Neurosurgery and Neurologists!). A friend asked what made him a good doctor. To me, a good doctor isn’t one that is just empathetic or sympathetic, because quite frankly, I get that all day long. Dr. Chaudhary is invested. All I can say to that is you know it when you see it.

I got my scripts refilled. As he was leaving, Dr. Chaudhary said, “I will always remember you. You are my patient who is the opposite of the doll – you stand up and your eyes close, and you lay down and your eyes open! Take care, my dear. Do not give up. I know it is hard, but do not give up.

I wish all of my doctors could be like him.

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10 thoughts on “The Good Doctor

  1. Hi Chelsea, I feel for you girl! Those bugs are nasty and I too ended up with a bad bout of bronchitis and asthma and had my surgery cancelled for the 2nd time!
    We can’t get a simple cold…no, that would be too easy!!!! I know what it’s like and hope your feeling better!!! I cried when I read about Dr. Chaudhary. He is one of the few doctor’s that are invested and you are so right, you know it when you see it! His honesty, care and comments about how he will always remember you because you are the opposite of a doll and to never give up had me blubbering. I am so glad you have him. I too have experienced several doctor’s that don’t have the insight to look past their fucking textbook’s!! Not even close to what you have had to endure, but I get it and when you find a doctor that is invested, how sweet it is!!
    Hang in there sister! I know it’s easier said than done on a lot of days. I can feel your incredible strength, but you are only human and need a huge fucking break!
    One day at a time or one hour at a time. Whatever it takes!!! Great post!!!! Sending Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Cathy! I’m so sorry your surgery was put off again. This is the time of year when we mask up and scrub like surgeons and no one looks at us sideways for it, right? But those little buggers find us anyway. I hope things go a little more smoothly for you at this point, and of course I’m wishing you all good things too, sister. I hope you have a conscientious and caring team looking out for you. ❀

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    • For sure! I was supposed to get a flu shot Monday (egg free) but the doctor’s office messed up and they didn’t have it ready for me, so I have to try again this coming Monday. It’s hard to explain to people sometimes why I’m hesitant to go out in public, because – say it with me – I “look fine!”

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      • Oh my gosh yes!
        This last time I got sick I hadn’t been anywhere for about a week, people couldn’t understand how I got sick. No one at home was sick. You know those bugs come home with them even if they don’t get sick.
        It’s much worse for you. Your new diagnosis you will catch everything.
        I hope the new diagnosis brings some validation to your disability claim at least.

        If you ever want to share your story on another blog you are invited to guest blog on mine. I think you are an amazing woman.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! Everyone thinks I’m a weirdo for washing my hands when I first walk in the door from the outside, or insist on washing the dishes a certain way, but those are the things that count! And I’m hopeful that the diagnosis will positively impact my disability claim too. It sure would be nice.
        I appreciate the offer to guest blog! I’ve never done anything like that. What would you like to see on a guest blog? “To All The Men I’ve Loved Before,” like Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson?? πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh I love that!!
        You can post about anything. Just share your story. I just put out a post asking people to submit their story to my blog, but I personally asked you. I know you want to give voice to your trials with the CSF troubles. Now with the MCAS that may be a good thing to post about. Your trials with getting a diagnosis and how you deal with that. Looking for love through all of this. or just a humorous piece about looking for love when you have no hair and can’t sit up for long. Of course many men might like the fact that you have to lie down a lot. πŸ˜‰
        You have a lot you can write about.

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