I have an appointment with an internal medicine primary care physician on Thursday. It’ll be my first doctor’s appointment since I moved. It’s a first step in finding my new PCP, someone to take over my complicated medical case.
I’m anxious about the appointment.
How do I introduce a new doctor to me?
This morning I was woken up with my left leg kicking and twitching. It’s happened before; it’s one of those mystery neurological symptoms that happens sporadically- leg twitches, sometimes shoulder and arm twitches and jerks. I’m pretty sure they’re myoclonic jerks, but I’ve never had a doctor tell me that. I’ve never had one show up while at a doctor’s appointment for me to be able to prove it happens.
This morning they were particularly persistent and strong. The build-up, the sting, the flail. Jerk, jerk, jerk; kick, kick, kick. Toes flexing at odd angles. Nothing I can do about it. They kept me awake, and annoyed. I think the whole thing lasted for less than 10 minutes, and afterwards I was exhausted, depleted, but definitely awake.
And I laid in bed thinking about my upcoming doctor’s appointment. How do I handle this? What do I tell this doctor?
In my experience, you can’t walk into a doctor’s office knowing too much. You have to be ignorant and let the doctor discover things on their own, to tell you.
If I walked into a doctor’s office and declared I was having myoclonic jerks, I would be suspect of spending too much time on the internet. Of researching too much. Of being a hypochondriac. After all, who am I to know medical terms, to know what is going on with my own body?
I saw this with my endometriosis. It took me years to get diagnosed, despite insisting I had the condition when I first started seeing a gynecologist (in fact, being the whole reason I was seeing a gyn in the first place).
Again when I reacted to the medication they gave me to abort migraines, and I temporarily lost my vision, the medical professionals at the ER refused to listen to my insistence that the medication was to be blamed. Hell, they heard migraines, did a simple vision test, and refused to do anything else.
Over the years, I saw the eye rolls, heard the sighs, noted the impatient and patronizing platitudes every time I made a suggestion or requested a specific test.
When I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, I was aware of this phenomenon. It took months of visiting doctors suggesting something was wrong, not accepting the simple answer that didn’t quite fit, seeing multiple doctors before I was diagnosed. I was concerned about gastroparesis but never mentioned the condition by name, never suggested we do a gastric emptying scan. Terrified that if I did I would get dismissed and set any diagnosis back, potentially for years.
And here I am again. This time with a new doctor, one I don’t know at all.
Maybe I’ll get lucky and I won’t need to. Maybe I’ll get a doctor who listens to me, who accepts that I have the capabilities to research my health. Maybe I won’t. How do I know?
Come Thursday, do I bring my big binder of medical records? Do I fill them in on my history? Or do I move forward, vaguely detailing the symptoms I’m currently having and let them take the reins from there, ignorant of what has come before?