Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bush Wacking -- a medical sidetrack

Two weeks ago I went to my GP suspecting I had a UTI. Historically, I have not presented standard symptoms sometimes to the point that I have ended up in the hospital with a kidney infection. Odor is the only thing that has helped me guess with near 100% accuracy that I have an infection. 

One would think that after 5 + years of experience and numerous dealings with me in this regard that my primary care physician, would get a clue when I tell her that..."I think I have an infection".  

Over the last 5 years she takes an in office sample runs a ph test often with negtive results, or conflicting results with the hospital's more extensive culture, or trace positive, to which she has sometimes not given me medication and other times a quick course of Cipro, which has sometimes worked and other times not.

The latest is two weeks ago I called stating I think I have a UTI. Her office assistant said she will need you to come in so that she could run a test. As usual the test was inconclusive -- trace positive -- so she wanted it to be cultured. In the meantime, due to my history she gave me a short course of CIPRO. I took the CIPRO. I received a call from the office person who said that the culture was contaminated and that I should be ok with taking the CIPRO. One week later I was still alarmed and had worsening symptoms.  I called her office to find out she was away. I was given a backup physician's phone number that I called. The nurse took my information and said the doctor would get back to me.  The next day I received a call from the 2nd doctor's office stating that since they did not know me they needed me to go to the hospital and provide a sample. I dutifully went to the hospital, provided a sample, and waited to find out......

The next day I received a call, saying that there were findings, the test was not conclusive that it was sensitive to CIPRO so they were getting a further culture and that my doctor (doctor #1) would be getting the results on Monday and she would get back to me. So, after two + weeks, two + test, and a short course of antibotics I am still waiting to here what is happening to me. I certainly hope I do not get a kidney infection.

The whole thing strikes me as absurd. This is modern day medicine after all. How hard can it be to figure out what bacteria I have and how to treat it. 
  • How can a doctor that I have seen (much to my chagrin) for over 5 years not get a handle, a clue, an awareness of my unique symptoms and find a relatively straightforward solution? 
  • Why do I have to continually jump through hoops that seem to be so rote that they serve essentially no value in my case? 
  • How can doctor's after years of experience with a patient not modify diagnostic/treatment routines to reflect a particular patient's symptoms especially for something seemingly so simple. For Christ's sake this is only a f%$#@ng UTI. And, my doctor is supposed to be quite diagnostician. 
It raises my concern, my hackles, and my rage. I think this is a very small microcosm of the medical institution and how many new doctors operate. There is a disavowal of the patient's own self experience. One would think (at least I do) that after years of dealing with a situation, and with a high rate of accuracy rate of calling out a symptom correctly, that a doctor would learn to have some relative trust in me, the patient. (Over the years when my doct would say I don't think you have anything based on my in office test, I would say, I really think that something is going on, she would concede and get a culture that would show something). 

It is not the case I want to be right, show her, or any other doctor up. I just want to be listened to and not treated like a bumbling idiot, with the attitude of you are not a doctor so how could you know your own body. After years of dealing with medical problems I think I have learned to pickup on my symptoms. So, today I sit and wait, shake my head, and jump through doctor's hoops. The end result is the process is 
  1. More expensive than it needs to be (which I end up paying for) 
  2. Takes an awful long time to resolve, and
  3. Smacks of futility. And, it really doesn't need to be that way. 
The lessons for me are to find a new GP that will listen and continue to fight for my interests as a  patient, and not give up. Sometimes I do  throw in the towel and accept mediocrity. But that has to stop. As a patient, one cannot do that because the consequences can be significant. 

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