YOU Run This!!!

  

“Hello, I need to cancel my appointment with you because you are no longer my doctor.” Yep, that is exactly what I told members of my medical team recently. Actually, I said those words and typed them. We have already discussed my Type A/neurotic tendencies, so it should come as no surprise that I wanted to be certain my point was made. It was very important to me that my doctors knew they were being fired. I mean really, if they didn’t what’s the point, right? So, the best way to do that, in my opinion, was to send the same message twice using two different forms of communication. I know what you’re thinking…genius! Yes it is friends, yes it is.

Now, before I continue, allow me to apologize for my 20+ day absence. As you know, I have been having a rough go with my Crohn’s these past few months. Also, I recently fractured my elbow. For you new readers, yes, that is totally a thing…it hurts worse than child birth. As you can imagine, trying to type with a fractured elbow has been VERY difficult. While I have a very high tolerance for pain…something about that elbow made me such a weenie! Shortly after my last post, my elbow became so swollen that you could no longer see that I had an elbow. My entire arm looked the same size from my shoulder to my wrist…QUITE FREAKY given my very slender frame. Apparently that was my body’s way of saying “HEY STUPID, YOU ARE USING THIS FRACTURED ARM TOO MUCH!” Well, I received the message loud and clear and took a quick break.  

So, once I heard my arm demanding to be rested, I stopped using it unless absolutely necessary. Friends, you have no idea how difficult that was. I challenge you to force yourself to not use one of your arms for an hour. While initially I celebrated that I did not injure my dominate hand, I am now convinced that I was born left handed but my parents forced me to use my right hand. Being unable to use my left arm has shown me that I LITERALLY use it for everything except writing. So, I have been lost friends. Seriously, I haven’t put my hair in a ponytail in over 15 days because I couldn’t lift my hand up into the air. But, thank you for your patience and emails to check in on me. I am alive…just figuring out this one arm blogging situation. So back to it. 

I don’t know about you, but to me, there is nothing worse than trying to end a relationship, of any kind, with a person unable to understand that is what’s happening. That seriously grinds my gears. While recently preparing to end my relationship with members of my medical team, I was reminded of when I broke up with a boyfriend at 14. Scared to hurt my then boyfriend’s feelings, I thought I would call him to break up rather than do it face to face. For some reason, a phone call seemed like the most delicate option…geesh. In my mind, I promised to let him down easy and choose my words very carefully. So, heart racing, I dialed his number and when he answered I softly said, “um, so listen, you are a nice guy and will make someone very happy one day. But, I am not happy so I think you should date someone else. Goodbye.” To me, it was pretty clear that I was ending the relationship. Now, before you get all Judgy McJudgerson, remember I was 14 people. But, even at 14, I knew exactly what I wanted and it definitely was not him. So, that relationship needed to end. 

Well friends, to my surprise, the boy showed up at my house hours later with flowers to “show me just how happy he could make me”. He simply did not get that the relationship was over. We were having a communication failure. While I thought I was being clear, the message was flying over his head. But, no worries, I moved to plan B…brutal honesty. If I recall vividly, the conversation went something like “so listen, I don’t like you, never really did and we are done. Take your flowers because they will just die with me. But, I am actually glad you brought them…they confirm exactly why I need to dump you. You clearly don’t get me…I hate all things nature. So, good luck in life man.” In case you are wondering, he got the hint after that. 

I can say without hesitation that the breakup at 14 taught me a valuable lesson. It taught me that some words, while very difficult to say, need to be said so everyone involved can move on. I like to think that my 35 year old self would not make the same mistake as my 14 year old self when communicating difficult messages…but honestly I’d be kidding myself. While I have learned tact, I still treat difficult messages like a band-aid…I just go for it. All because of that breakup at 14. That breakup conversation made me vow to always be painfully clear of my wants and needs, and to leave very little room for confusion. So, to everyone that has received swift and harsh words from me at any point, you have my boyfriend at 14 to thank for that. Because of his inability to understand what was being conveyed, you now get the unfiltered message to ensure there is no confusion about what I’m saying.  

So, when it came time to fire my doctors, I did it in two ways to ensure there was no confusion that I was ending the relationship. First I sent a one sentence email that read “Hello, I need to cancel my appointment with you because you are no longer my doctor”. I then called the office and said the exact same thing for added measure. Like everything I experience, I have a few lessons learned to share with you: 

  1.  Be aware that you as the patient can end the relationship with the doctor when you decide. I know this seems like information everyone should know, but not everyone does. See, somewhere along the way we are taught that we must trust these doctors and stay with them despite how bad we are treated or how bad we are ignored. Somewhere along the way we become convinced that we as the patient have no power. Well friends, I am here to tell you that is false. As the patient, you actually hold all the cards. If you do not like the level of service you are receiving, end the relationship! 
  2. Before you fire your doctor, get a refill on all necessary prescriptions. This is critical if you have not quite settled on a replacement doctor. But, even if you have, it could take time before you are able to see them or get refills on your meds so you want to ensure there is no gap in your medication; 
  3. Obtain copies of your medical records. This will be very helpful once you select a new doctor. After you have identified a potential new doctor, you can send them your records in advance of your first visit, which will make for a more meaningful visit. This is particularly true if your health record is very complicated like mine; 
  4. When you fire your doctor, make sure you have a replacement in place. It would be a great idea to have already met with your new doctor and have follow up appointments scheduled before you fire your current doctor. No one likes to be fired, so when you end the relationship make sure you are completely done…because there usually is no going back; 
  5. Keep the termination conversation simple. While it would feel good to tell the doctor off and belittle them, there really is no point. If asked, I believe it is important to tell them why you are ending the relationship. But, it is rare for a doctor to ask. So, simply end the relationship and move on. Taking the termination conversation as a opportunity to belittle the doctor, in my opinion, makes you no better than them. 

Never forget that you as the patient ultimately run the medical team. You choose the players, and when it is time for them leave. I will admit that somewhere along the way I myself forgot this…but it won’t happen again.


    38 thoughts on “YOU Run This!!!

    1. All very useful and valuable tips! I try to remind my patients a lot that they have the ultimate choice of who their doctors are and thankfully are not obligated to stay with the one that their insurance assigns to them. Many think and feel stuck so it is great for you to get this info out there!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Glad to see that you’re back and better than ever! (At least in terms of the post–I hope the elbow heals quickly.) I’ve been having a terrible time lately with my own condition–a flare that lead to an infection that lead to a drug interaction–so I hope you’re over the hump with your Crohn’s, too.

      As always, your advice is sage, sound, and sassy, just like we like it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much!!!! It definitely feels better since I listened to my body and let it rest. Later this week I see the orthopedic surgeon to find out if it is doing as good as I think it is. I am so sorry to hear about your flare…GOD flares suck! I have turned a corner with my Crohn’s or so I think. But I am sure you know that just when you think that…these conditions show up and yell “HAHA NO YOU HAVEN’T!” Sending positive thoughts and hugs your way friend!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much for reading and your comment. WOW…you DEFINITELY did the right thing. I had a doctor confuse with me another patient and insist she talked to me about a starting a medicine. She then proceeded to berate me for not taking it…only to find 20 mins into the conversation that she had the wrong patient. You think she apologized? NOPE. She has been fired too!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Agree. For some reason we are given the message that we can’t have our wants when dealing with these doctors. That is crazy to me. Just like they have expectations of me as the patient, I have expectations of them as my doctor. This relationship is supposed to be a two way street, rather than one in which the doctor tells me things to do that I blindly follow. I have to remind myself that I will NEVER be too sick to participate in my care…NEVER!

          Liked by 1 person

    3. Since I was in the military and have moved several times since then, I am familiar with replacing physicians. When it comes to simply leaving one that is no longer providing the level of service that I expect, I have never had the guilty feelings that you mentioned, although I appreciate them and your point of view. Because so many doctors I have seen throughout the years seem to treat patients like revenue streams, I have found my guilty pleasure in telling them that their services are no longer required.

      The last time I dropped a doctor was last year. I felt that I was not being given the consideration I deserved and I searched until I found a new doctor. When I notified the old office that I was leaving, in person and via email I filled out the forms that you mentioned. It took the old office over a month, with the threat of legal action to provide my records to my new doctor who was within walking distance of the old one.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. WOW! It just blows my mind that some doctors appear to have this sort of God complex and then feel like “how dare you leave because I am not treating you with respect…I treat you how I choose.” It hurts my heart to know that there are some people truly stuck with bad doctors without other options…something needs to be done about that. I definitely felt a little guilt ending the relationship, particularly after 20 plus years with that providing institution, but felt even more upset with myself that I allowed it to continue for so long. I can say it won’t happen again. Thank you so much for reading and your comment!

        Liked by 1 person

    4. We recently replace my husband entire team of MD’s he sees….and is he ever getting better medical treatment….MDs are paid for there advice and understanding…when they stop caring its time for the boot….we never called we just never went back and the new MD’s office obtained all the records for us….funny thing his old MD never called are said boo….what an ass…he had been my husbands MD for over ten years….I would of thought a phone call at least was in order….just another reason why we are glad we changed….sorry about you elbow…I bet it hurts…glad your back…but go slow…don’t irritate it and glad you moved on to better doctors….kat

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much! Yes it hurt unlike anything I have ever experienced. What is it though about the elbow that makes you laugh? I was seriously in the ER with tears running down my face screaming “THIS HURTS” while laughing…I am sure they thought I was nuts! I am so glad your husband has a better medical team in place…that is so important. I didn’t really have an appreciation for the real damage a bad team can do…but boy I sure do know now! I would’ve thought the office would’ve called to see why you were seeing another doctor, but it just shows that some truly don’t care. They see the patient as replaceable…and that is so unfortunate. We need doctors that remember why they so desperately wanted to enter the field to begin with…that somehow gets lost.

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        1. well said….I think my husband thought his old MD would care…I just laughed and said nope…they really don’t care…that was obvious with the care he was getting. Or not getting would be a better description……kat

          Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you SOOO VERY MUCH for sharing this! I think sometimes we all need a reminder that WE are in charge of our medical team. As odd as it sounds, it is easy to forget who really is in control.

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    5. Thank you for posting this! I think many people, especially in the U.S. are cowed into feeling grateful just to get an appointment that they don’t understand that the only way to take back our humanity from a system that treats us like ‘consumer’ items is to behave like ones and go away if you don’t like the way it treats you. You definitely want that medical record because it has power. Your doctor can write anything about you in that chart and it will follow you to the next doctor and it will affect the way he views your behavior and illness. And if you are dealing with a monolith like Kaiser, use the grievance procedure and if that doesn’t work then write to the head of the department. Thank you, again, for a valuable post. Glad ur back!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you so much!!! It feels so good to be back! YES! You are absolutely right That is the only way to take back. I will admit, that I too fell victim to feeling just happy to have an appointment. I forgot that I am in charge of my medical team. Oh, and what you said about the medical record is SOOO VERY TRUE! Every year I request my records from all my doctors just to see what is there. This year I received the shock of my life. I am currently in the process of contesting my record. Few people know that under HIPAA you can also request a correction to your record and the doctor has 30 days to grant or deny the request. If they deny it, you can provide a statement of correction that must be attached to your record.

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    6. I’ve fired several doctors! I fired my OB when I was pregnant with my middle child. He totally blew me off when I told him I was passing out sometimes. He claimed it was “normal for pregnant women to faint, after all, that’s how they used to show that a woman was pregnant in the old movies.” I moved 500 miles away 8mos pregnant to get back to the doctor who delivered my first baby!

      I fired another one after he tried telling me that having my knees popping and grinding was “just a normal part of getting older.” I was 25!

      I had another one that told me (at age 32) that I was too young to be on so many meds and took me off of EVERYTHING including my psych meds (antidepressant and mood stabilizer for PTSD). Within a week, I had a psychotic break. I never went back. I was finally able to find my current doctor who is absolutely wonderful.

      The worst one though, I didn’t get to fire. The hospital did after I reported her. I went in to the ER with a large blister (the size of a half-dollar) that had grown exponentially in just a matter of a few hours. I suspected a spider bite which is why I went in. This woman barely glanced at it and said that there was no way that it was a spider bite because she couldn’t see any puncture marks. She then declared that it was cellulitis because of “poor hygiene”! I hadn’t showered for a couple days but my hands are always clean. She tells me that I am to go see my doc 1st thing the next day because she supposedly doesn’t know what wouldn’t interact with my extensive med list. Problem with that is that she’d seen me before and given me antibiotics. All that I could forgive if not for this: As she’s typing up the discharge papers in the hall, I overhear her talking to a couple of the nurses, one of whom has known me since high school. She’s telling them how I am just there to get more drugs. There’s no reason somebody should be on that many meds. “She’s always trying to convince me that she has an autoimmune disorder,” she says this as she scoffed. The thing is that my autoimmune diagnosis is in my chart but she just thought that I was able to con my other doctors! And I know that if I could overhear this conversation, others could too. The nurses when they brought me the discharge instructions could tell I was upset and I told them I overheard what was said. They were so apologetic. I was in and out of the ER in 30min. That has to be a record! I do know that one of the nurses reported her too.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. GOD! It is so maddening to hear about others being treated this way. I am seriously exploring some sort of patient advocacy initiative. I thought my experiences were unique to me…but now see they are not. I also know about being labeled as a drug seeker. I actually discovered it in my medical record after I was treated horribly at a hospital. Everyone that truly knows me knows I don’t drink alcohol of any kind, don’t smoke anything, and am LITERALLY scared to death to take pain meds…so to see something like that in my record was horrifying and traumatizing. But, what was worse was that even a drug addict deserved to be treated better than I worse. It is scary to know that people are losing their lives and being ignored all because some idiot decides to pass judgment. It pisses me off beyond belief!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I was actually labeled a drug addict a few years before I ran into that particular ER doc. I also do not drink or smoke anything and have only been on painkillers for a little while now. But in March of 2007, just about a year before I was diagnosed with Behcets, I left my husband and ended up homeless for 4yrs. At one of the shelters I was at, one of the kids got a hold of his mom’s lighter (2yo) and he lit a mattress on fire. I ended up at the ER for smoke inhalation. I was treated fine, just like you want to be treated. I was treated and released after a couple hours. That night, I started having severe pain in my lower back and hips to the point that one leg was going numb. I was basically dragging it when I walked. I was in agony so I go to the ER. Just my luck, I get the same doctor I had seen the day before. He won’t do an xray or an MRI or ct scan because I had an MRI of my entire spine 5mos prior so “there’s no point. Nothing’s gonna change in that amount of time.” So I asked him why he thinks I’m in so much pain! That’s when he drops the bombshell. “Because you’re not. You just want me to give you drugs and I’m not doing it!” The nurses were floored. They could tell I wasn’t faking it or coming down. They finally managed to talk the doctor into giving me a single 5mg hydrocodone to try to at least take the edge off. I found out later that the doctor saw that I was homeless and automatically assumed I was a junkie. Nothing could be farther from the truth. When I went in to have my appendix out (via the ER for abdominal pain) they gave me dilaudid…half a dose, and I was goofy. That doctor even commented”I can tell you’re not a junkie. We give some people 4x this much and it doesn’t even phase them!”

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I had to walk away from this comment and come back because it LITERALLY had me in tears. It is so horrible to need help and be disregarded because someone decides you are a drug addict. But the sad part, EVEN IF THEY WERE RIGHT you deserved to be treated better. As a patient, you shouldn’t have to immediately prove you are not a drug seeker in order to be taken seriously. Because of my conditions this is a battle I am constantly fighting and it is so exhausting. Sadly, I see no end any time soon.

          Liked by 1 person

    7. So, I fired a doctor because he had compromised my son’s medical care during an emergency by bad-mouthing the school nurse and then refusing to authorize treatment at an ER. The ER doctor took over once I got there are forced him to give authorization. My son was hospitalized with a blown elbow and three breaks. It was awful! How ironic that you also have a broken elbow.

      Well, that doc called me to try to convince me to stay in the practice. I never used abusive language but I had to make it clear that he had failed to make an effort to ascertain my son’s condition, and that his actions had placed him at risk of further injury: the ambulance crew did not splint his arm and tried to make him WALK to the ambulance because the doc told them the school nurse was overreacting. What an idiot!

      So your advice is sound. Let me add that one needs to have a clear presentation of the reasons for the termination before the phone rings.

      Hope your elbow heals quickly. My son recovered slowly over about six months.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. WOOOOW!! First let me say that I am so glad to hear that your son healed. Next, WOOOW! Thank you so much for reading and your comment. Your point was absolutely true. It’s funny, recently I have talked to so many people that were completely unaware they had the ability to change doctors. I found myself going “how do people not know this”, but then I took a look at my situation and found out exactly how it happens. We must never forget that we run the medical team. Yes, doctors are the subject matter experts because they have training that we do not, BUT they are there ONLY to the extent that we want them there. When they become unhelpful, rude, or just outright draining, it is time to change team members. After taking a rest break, my elbow is healing pretty good. I see the surgeon again next week so I will next know steps then. At this time, it still looks like no surgery and this bionic looking brace will be on a for a few more weeks.

        Liked by 1 person

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