The Quality of My Rheumatologist Transforms My Life
When your body starts attacking itself, you need all the help you can get. A good doctor can change your life, even save it. A bad doctor can do so much worse.
It’s taken me years to build a quality team of healthcare professionals, with some rough trial and error along the way. It’s still not perfect. But my rheumatologist is at the center of my treatment circle, and having a good one has transformed my life.
My journey to finding a good doctor
I’ve seen an assortment of physicians since I had my first big lupus flare in 2015. At the time, I was living in Germany and I could not get the help I needed. The doctors I saw were brusque, rarely available, and they blamed my issues on weight and anxiety. They made me feel like it was my fault that I was sick. (This is not meant to be reflective of Germany’s healthcare as a whole – my experiences were limited to 3 doctors in a small German town).
After returning home to the USA, I met with a rheumatologist in early 2017 who diagnosed me with lupus at my second appointment. It turned out that he was better at diagnosing than treating, however, and I quickly realized I needed a new doctor. That’s easier said than done, of course.
It took me over a year to start seeing a new rheumatologist. She was more competent and had a lot of experience with lupus and pregnancy (I was 7 months pregnant when I first saw her), and I was happy with her care. Then, a year and a half after I started seeing her, I unexpectedly got a letter that my doctor was quitting.
I felt abandoned when I realized I was losing my rheumatologist. I tried seeing a different doctor at the practice and had a negative experience. So, for the next several months, I kept Googling my doctor’s name and, sure enough, she popped up at another practice. Even better – I found out that one of the top rheumatologists in my city had also left for that practice – and was accepting new patients for the first time in years! I was able to get in quickly with that doctor and the entire ordeal turned out to be a blessing.
Having an outstanding rheumatologist
My first appointment with my current rheumatologist was eye-opening. Instead of simply suggesting a treatment, she would give me details about studies and why the treatment was or wasn’t a good option for lupus patients. She has given me several treatment ideas that I’d never heard of before. She wasn’t afraid to suggest out of the box ideas. Her knowledge was impressive. Things that weren’t an option with my previous doctors became an option.
She explained things thoroughly, empathized with me, gave me honest answers (even if it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear), and took time to think through my unique issues. It’s been less than a year since I’ve started seeing her, but I’ve already learned a lot from her and seen a huge positive impact on my life. I am very thankful to be under her care.
My rheumatologist is one of the most important people in my life since she directly impacts so much of it. She could be the difference between constant pain or achieving remission. When you have lupus, your life can change quickly and dramatically. You never know what kind of flare or complications might be around the corner, so it's important to have a doctor who is vigilant and ready to treat whatever lupus throws your way.
What is one of the best experiences you’ve had with a rheumatologist?
Who do you turn to first for emotional support? (choose up to three)