I confess....I've talked about doctors before. Between my chronic health problems and the fact that I've moved a good bit as an adult, I've seen a LOT of doctors. So I consider myself something of an expert.
I'd booked an appointment for a sleep specialist a while back. I have never slept well. I honestly didn't know that it was abnormal to need at least an hour from pillow-time to sleep-time until I got to college and had roommates. I'd had escalating trouble in the past few months though, often getting up and reading in the living room around 3AM b/c it was frustrating to lie awake. I often got only an hour or so of sleep for several nights in a row. This would sometimes persist even if I took a prescription sleep aid. In the past couple weeks, I gave in and took Ambien nightly...previously I only allowed myself to take it twice a week but sleep has been the only "break" from my high pain level and I've needed it. I also added an additional medicine to my routine that helps patients cope with pain. The new medicine, the Ambien, and two Tylenol PMs have been working really well but I kept the appointment because I wasn't sure it was a great longterm approach.
Anyway, that's the history that brought my to Dr. A.R.K. It was probably the best experience I EVER had with a doctor. She spent a good 45 minutes with me. She actively listened and asked questions, both her standard ones and questions that followed up on what I said. She expressed concern for my level of pain, noting she'd like to meet me when I didn't look like every muscle in my body was tense. She suggested raising a minor change with my GP that might help take more of the edge off the pain. She praised me for managing to wean off pain meds, noting it was always hard but clearly worse when the pain was still there. She took my overall health into account when making the recommendation that I go ahead and use the "cocktail" that's been working and suggested another change in timing that might help me skip the Tylenol PMs (it did work last night). I was concerned that it wasn't good to take every night but she said it was fine and noted she couldn't fathom not having me do what works so that I at least get the break from the pain when I sleep. She said that she would be happy to work with me over email (she's with Geisinger and they have a good online health mgmt system) to talk about trying to sleep without the medicine but that I shouldn't worry about it until after the pain was under control.
She offered to talk standing when she noticed I was propping my weight on my arms/hands to keep the pressure off my low back.
This is rambly. Blame the fact that I'm still in pain.
But I really appreciated the level of true patient care....especially when I feel a bit left to suffer by the neuro (he IS referring me to pain management folks but hasn't offered much help during the wait until I can get in). I remarked to the doctor that I think she spent more time with me in one appointment than I've spent with my surgeon in a year. She noted she'd been a general practitioner previously and that one hires a surgeon for their hands, not their manner. I sent a note to the health system praising the doctor. It was tough to go to the appt since it clearly meant getting out of bed and moving, neither of which has been easy recently, but she made it such a good experience. I want to clone her (and get her to take just one patient as a GP...mine is thorough but not nearly as kind).
Thank you, Dr. A.R.K. You made me feel listened to and cared for and the world would be better if there were more doctors like you.