Star:
1. any heavenly body.
2. a person's destiny, temperament, etc.
www.dictionary.com

Whether you’re reading this because you’re gluten intolerant, suffer from PVFS or CFS, are starting to grow your own veggies, embracing natural and/or alternative remedies, or just want to enjoy the journey with us, please remember I’m not a medical expert, nor am I here to debate global warming. Being diagnosed with a life-changing illness, looking for answers or changing the way one lives can all be overwhelming events, so I hope that by sharing the triumphs and tragedies, you too will benefit in some way from our journey.

I hope you enjoy the journey and if you leave this blog having learnt only one new recipe or started to think about finding your star, then this blog’s purpose has been served.

My two favourite sayings:
Pondering the choices we make at the crossroads is like revision in the school of life. Regretting the mistakes or taking for granted the successes means we have learnt nought.
An attentive student will gain wisdom from the mistakes and joy from the successes. Cartillyer – 2008

'Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.' Mohandas Gandhi

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Time To Change Doctors


When our doctor slammed the door shut on our three-week plan to help us live with my post-viral fatigue, I started thinking about our doctor’s abilities.


I had always blindly assumed that doctors could be relied on without question.
  • They have the answers when we’re unwell. 
  • They’re smart people, who have spent years studying medicine. 
  • They’re working in a field dedicated to helping others. 


Why should we doubt them? Why does one doctor suit one patient better than another? Because they are human beings! They have different personalities and can make mistakes, just like we do. 

The first hint that our doctor wasn’t right for us happened in the previous year. I had taken four-month-old Miss Flora to her and said that I thought she had reflux. Our doctor dismissed it and said that Miss Flora’s clinginess was early separation anxiety. I restrained the gut instinct to question her diagnosis, despite Miss Flora being my fifth child, and having had prior experience with a reflux baby when The Apprentice was an infant.

By the time Miss Flora was seven months old her reflux was much worse. She was waking every hour through the night, and was a very clingy and miserable baby. When I took her to the health nurse for her weigh-in, the nurse agreed that things weren’t right, and said that the symptoms strongly suggested food intolerances. She told me to ask the doctor for a referral to the children’s hospital.

I took Miss Flora back to the doctor and asked for the referral, without mentioning it was the health nurse’s idea. The doctor said that she wasn’t suffering from food intolerances. She said that Miss Flora had reflux (My suggestion three months earlier!) and that I didn’t need a referral. I realised that our doctor disregarded everything that I suggested without even considering it. I demanded the referral and she reluctantly gave it to me. 

Despite my realisation, I gave our doctor the benefit of the doubt and continued to see her. Seven months later when our doctor refused to give me a medical certificate, so Mr T could take three weeks off work to put our plan into action, she gave me a few good reasons why I should never see her again. 

Instead of aiding us with our three-week plan that would help us live with my post-viral fatigue, she suggested I do the following:

1. Stop breastfeeding 14-month-old Miss Flora, despite the fact we were still trying to sort out her food intolerances. (Distress an already clingy child, whose only calcium supply was through my breast milk – how restful would that be?!)

2. Put Boywonder and Tomboy in two different kindergartens, so that instead of running back and forth to the one kindergarten four times a day, I could race around to two different kindergartens at the same time. (Distress either Boywonder or Tomboy by moving one of them to a new kindergarten full of strangers, and still have to race about just as much, but even faster.)

3. And the best one: Let four-year-old Boywonder look after 14-month-old Miss Flora while I rested. (Who does that?!!)

After hearing her suggestions, I could see why she dismissed our simple and effective three-week plan – she was nuts!

I considered her attributes as a doctor:
  • Worked through everything methodically.
  • If interrupted would return to where she left off.
  • Disregarded all patient suggestions.
  • Became flustered if symptoms didn’t fit textbook scenarios.


I realised that she lacked confidence in herself. Unfortunately, so did I, so I considered the other doctors at our medical centre. 

There was the ‘ego’ doctor. 
  • He always spoke to me in a condescending manner.
  • If I attempted to say anything other than my symptoms, he spoke to me like I was an idiot. 
  • Became irritable if I mentioned my own research.
  • Despite not being the head of the centre, he strutted around like he was.


I saw him once after the ‘self-doubting’ doctor and knew he wasn’t right for me. When I told him our other doctor said that my post-viral fatigue would be called chronic fatigue syndrome if it continued past the six-month mark without improving, he snorted in disgust and told me that she was wrong. At least we agreed on one thing – the other doctor was useless. 

I considered the ‘old-school’ doctor. He was:
  • Semi-retired.
  • Still performed unnecessary checks, like taking my temperature for a sprained ankle.
  • Was visibly uncomfortable when making notes on the computer.


Not that he wasn’t a good doctor; he correctly diagnosed me with Graves Disease in 2001, which the ‘ego’ doctor had wrongly diagnosed as stress. 

The ‘old-school’ doctor was a lovely old guy, who cared for me through my pregnancy with Boywonder, but I needed a doctor that kept up to date with the ever-changing world of medicine.

I’d seen the other female doctor a couple of times when my doctor was on leave and I found her to be a 'congenial’ doctor. She:
  • Listened to me.
  • Explained things to me.
  • Checked Google in front of me.
  • Was open to alternative therapies.
  • Didn’t talk down to me.
  • Admitted to her mistakes!


She suited me perfectly. She recognised my ability to research and use my common sense, while remembering that I’m not medically trained. (I don’t run to her every week with mystery illnesses I’ve researched on Google, despite Dr Google telling me that I should’ve been put on kidney dialysis years ago. Common sense goes a long way.) 

We share a common goal – improving my health for the long term. 

Have you ever stopped to think about what your doctor is really like? Is he/she the ‘old-school’ doctor that still takes your temperature, even if you’re there for an ingrown toenail? 

Maybe he’s the ‘ego’ doctor that believes he is of a much higher status than the rest of us peasants. This may suit you perfectly, if you’re one of those busy people who like to tell their symptoms, get a prescription and leave. 

Or maybe you’d like to see the ‘self-doubting’ doctor, even if it’s only to outwit her.

Personally, I prefer a doctor that I can share a mutual respect with as we work together to improve my health. 

I'm sure there are a few more types of doctors out there, but I haven't been fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to meet them. Regardless of which doctor suits you best, there are a few things that everyone should remember. 

Firstly, Dr Google is NOT a substitute for seeing a doctor. It’s a great tool for learning more about your diagnosis and finding fellow sufferers to share information with, but there is nothing better or safer than seeing a real doctor.

Secondly, if you’re not comfortable with your doctor, see another doctor and keep seeing different doctors until you find the one that works well with you. If you’re not comfortable with your doctor, you might delay a visit, which could lead to further health problems.

Thirdly, if you’re not happy with a diagnosis, get a second opinion. If it’s particularly serious and you’re still not sure, get a third opinion. Peace of mind is also important for good health.

Lastly, once you find the doctor that suits you, don’t hesitate to see another doctor if your doctor is unavailable when you’re unwell. Any doctor is better than no doctor when you need medical attention.

Next week: Why I love specialist doctors.

2 comments:

  1. So true with shopping around for a doctor. They ared all so different, depending on their attitudes towards alternative therapies if they can't hit it on the head in one go. They are people and some of them have that ego problem just like the rest of us. I've had the same experience, luckily my present doctor is open minded and will reconsider things if I question his diagnosis. Use your gut and your commonsense if you're not happy with the treatment. In all fairness, they only have about ten minutes with you, whereas you have far more time and vested interest in doing the research. Great blog, so true.

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