Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tough Love

Okay okay! You guys have a point. Thanks everyone, especially Jameil the firestarter, for that tsunami of tough love. You're right. I should be demanding more of my doctor, and I will. I promise you all that on Monday I will make another appointment and prepare a list of questions. What's the plan to treat my anemia? What's the plan to find out what's causing it? Whatever happened to that referral to a hematologist that my doctor mentioned last year and never followed up on?

I never took it that seriously because it didn't affect me all that much before. Also, previously I only saw my blood iron levels creeping slowly but steadily up as I took my iron supplement. They've never dropped back down again like this. It's definitely something to be looked into. I appreciate the push from all y'all because it's too easy, especially when one is feeling like crap, to not deal with it and to avoid the prospect of uncomfortable medical tests. But that's a foolish and shortsighted approach.

For the record, my doctor is actually pretty good for a Canadian general practitioner. If I go in with a list of questions prepared, he will take the time to answer them. He does listen to what I say, which is more than can be said for the average g.p. here. Keep in mind that the Canadian health care system only pays doctors $30.00 per patient for a consultation. Out of that fee, the doctor has to pay his or her own office expenses (rent, receptionist salary, office supplies, medical supplies like syringes and gauze, etc.), and income tax (which in Ontario is around 35% to 50% of one's gross income for the upper middle class tax brackets), before he or she can even begin to consider take-home pay. No wonder doctors cram in as many patients per hour as possible, especially the younger ones who often have tens of thousands of dollars of debt for medical school tuition to pay off. It's not right, but that's the system. So you really have to speak out and stand up for yourself to get a g.p. to give you more time. My doctor is good because he'll give me more time if I ask for it. That's more than can be said for many doctors, who mostly just want to push a prescription at you within the first three minutes and that's all you'll get.

Specialists get paid more, so a referral to a specialist is always the best thing if you want some real quality time and attention.

The fault is partly mine because I haven't pushed hard for more tests. I seem to get the kind of medical problems that don't respond to traditional Western medicine. For example, until I was in my early 20's I suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It had a huge impact on my life. But the doctors just shrugged and said "you'll have to live with it". In the end I got help from a naturopath and health food store books and supplements. I learned what I can eat and what I can't, and cured my own IBS. It hasn't been a problem in years.

Then there are these vague episodes of fever and weakness, sometimes combined with joint pain. I've been suffering from them on and off for ten years; have already had every relevant test on the blood test form; even saw a rheumatologist; and no one can find a thing wrong with me. Basically it's a reaction to over-stress, and the cure is rest. That's as much as any doctor can tell me. This time no diagnosis, but the advice is the same: live with it. So I carry on seeing my naturopath and trying to practice the best possible self-care given the variety of life's many demands on my energy.

Who knows? Maybe this time I'll follow the anemia thread and it will provide some answers. It's worth a shot. But as for the other stuff? I live with it. It costs me a few weeks out of every year, but it could be worse.


Karen said...

I am just catching up. Sorry you are feeling crappy. You might know that I have anemia. It took a long while to figure out what was causing the problems (absorption issues in my stomach) I get iron infusions every 2 weeks to keep my levels high enough and a full blood transfusion every 6 weeks or so. Oral meds didn't work for me because of my absorption issues.

For me, the key was finding a great hematologist. Things were hit and miss for while, but finding the right doc put me on the right path.

Good luck. Ask me if you have any questions. This is an area in which I have lots of knowledge.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Glad you're going back.If I've learned nothing in my life it's "The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease". If you don't make noise people will only give you a minimum of attention. Hope you get some answers so you can be all healthy soon!!

G said...

You know, it's stuff like this (not what you're going through personally, but the medical system you have), that makes me wonder why some of our politicians are so gung-ho on your style of medicine?

DarcsFalcon said...

Good for you!

We all just want to see you well and happy, with no more sick episodes knocking you flat. :)

Jenski said...

Hmmm, Karen's experience sounds relevant if you've had digestive issues in the past. Hope your GP and a specialist can straighten it out for you!

Sparkling Red said...

Karen: Thank you for the offer! It feels good to know that I have an experienced friend if I need to ask questions. Right now I'm not even sure what questions to ask, but hopefully I'll get past that stage soon.

Ron: You're absolutely right. The patient always needs to advocate for him or herself. I'm going to have to speak out and be courteously demanding.

G: The Canadian medical system is far from perfect, but I still prefer it over the American one. Everyone has equal access to care, even if that care is sometimes inadequate.

Darcsfalcon: Yeah, you know I only whine because I crave your loving sympathy. ;-) The attention of loved ones is the best medicine.

Jenski: I hope I'll find out soon!

Jameil said...

YAY!!! I'm so happy to hear that!

DarcsFalcon said...

Attention?! And here all this time I thought chicken soup was the best medicine! *facepalm*


Feel better soon hon. :)