Feeling Frustrated by Doctors Appointments?

Does anyone else find rheumatology appointments where nothing fruitful or informative happens as frustrating as I do? I had an appointment today and, apparently, my doctor is pleased with my current state. We had a short, generic discussion and I got a once-over and a new appointment in three months. Okay then. Bye, I guess.

The added pain of seeing a doctor

Going into the appointment this morning, I got out of my car and collected my cane. I brought along a stack of office notes and MRI results from my pain management doctor. I put on my mask and slowly made my way inside the office. After I checked in with the receptionist, I found sitting in the waiting room chair agonizing.

Being in one position for too long is so hard for me. Finally, the nurse came to get me and we slowly made our way back to the little office where I would be seen.

What do you mean you're pleased?

Throughout this visit, I was in and out of my chair, since sitting in those uncomfortable chairs is so hard for my back and legs. When I got up, I would stand next to the wall until that was too uncomfortable, when I would try sitting again.

My pain management practitioner added gabapentin to my nighttime routine so I could get some sleep. I’m working on getting approval for a spinal cord stimulator. I have a new pain in my left index finger that is concerning. My feet hurt so much that I can no longer walk with bare feet.

On top of all of that, I’m going to get a shot in my butt because the pain is so intense. So, when my doctor says that she is pleased with my current status, I’m a little confused.

The experience of living in my body

Since I have had psoriatic arthritis for thirty years and the first ten years, I was essentially untreated, I know that there was a lot of time for permanent joint damage to occur. My rheumatologist also pointed out to me that this could just be osteoarthritis that is unrelated to PsA, though I find this difficult to believe.

I have gone through these experiences personally. The onset of my back pain happened at the same time as the onset of my sausage fingers and my psoriasis plaques. I grant that my doctor has valuable medical expertise, but I have the experience of living in my body.

Overall, I like my doctor

While we have different opinions about how I’m doing, I like my rheumatologist very much. She supports my requests, as long as I’m able to provide a solid reason. For example, when I requested a handicap tag for my car, she wasn’t immediately convinced there was a need.

I explained that I am limited by not having one, that I’m not able to do things that I want to do because I don’t know if I will be able to walk the distance back to my car. She was then satisfied that I truly needed it.

The importance of a second opinion

Though my doctor is satisfied with my PsA, I am not. I worry that my finger and foot pain means that my psoriatic arthritis is progressing. Because of that, I asked for a second opinion. It was hard for me to ask someone I’ve had a trusting relationship with for years for a second opinion, but having that second set of eyes give me a look will give me the reassurance I need.

A relationship with our doctor that allows us to ask for a second opinion is so important. It is also important that we recognize that we are the experts on our bodies. After all, we are the ones who live in them every day. It is nice when my doctors are satisfied, but ultimately, it is my satisfaction that is the goal of my healthcare.

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