I believe there is a common misconception among the able-bodied that if you have a chronic illness, you probably have very good doctors whom you love. While that can be true in some cases, there also are some doctors we are just stuck with; they treat our conditions and our insurance pays them, but we have no choice. Sometimes they can be cold and uncaring; sometimes they are warm and caring. But something that often is not discussed is that, if you are like me and have had a chronic illness since childhood, at some point you age out of pediatric care and have to switch to adult doctors.
The interesting thing about cerebral palsy is that the majority of research for treatment options is conducted on pediatric CP patients. That means that as an adult patient, I am entrusted to doctors who have not yet seen patients like me. For me, it also has meant that I have chosen quality doctors over staying with whoever my specialists’ recommend. I have decided to go this route because I prefer having a choice and the ability to find someone who will listen to me and care for me, instead of trying to pass me down the line of treatments that have worked for other people.
Recently I had to switch my primary care doctor. This came at a time when I was withdrawing from school because of my health and the letter that would be written by my primary care doctor was really important in the process. I dreaded switching my primary care doctor more than any other, especially at a time when I have been struggling immensely with my physical and mental health. It’s easier to switch a specialist. One specialist hands your charts over to another. It’s a lot harder to establish a relationship with a doctor you trust to help you when you are sick or hurting.
The hardest part about finding a primary care doctor is that there is a sea of people from which you can choose. I asked my previous doctor for a recommendation and, with shaking fingers and a nervous stomach, booked an appointment with the new doctor . I am beyond surprised with the results. I have been recommended to the most caring doctor I’ve ever known. I’m sad that I didn’t go to him sooner. He listens to me, really hears me and tries his hardest to help.
My new doctor and I are working together to get me physically well, but getting mentally well was the thing I was most stressed about. It is because of him I am able to write this column for you right now because he’s helped me get a handle on my anxiety. It can be difficult to find someone who will listen to your concerns, and understands the struggles that can come with anxiety. I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot.
It’s so important to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. You need to find a doctor who is willing to talk about all of your needs, open and honestly, and without judgment. It’s important to remember that a doctor is not a one-size-fits-all, even if it’s a recommendation. If you feel in your gut that you don’t click with someone, be your own advocate. Do your own research and find yourself another doctor, call your insurance and ask for providers, call the ones that look promising and talk to them. See them and find out if they are you.
Keep going until you find someone. They are out there, I promise. And it is worth it to find them.
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.