Saturday, November 13, 2010

Entry #28 - Addison's Puzzle Pieces

For anyone who is found to have a rare and serious disease, the diagnosis is accompanied by many changes that impact every aspect of your life. I've discovered that many people are given an Addison's diagnosis only after their health has been on a steady, sharp decline. The opportunity for an earlier diagnosis was often present many times over, yet it might have been missed many times over. My own day of diagnosis came after multiple emergency room trips and hospitalizations with many tests, many of them dangerous and unwarranted. Early on, if numerous doctors would have truly listened to all of my symptoms and paid attention to certain extremely "chronic" low blood pressure, ongoing sodium problems, severe lethargy, extreme weakness, etc., they would have had a rather fast and correct conclusion leading to an adrenal issue and proper testing sooner instead of later.

There are specific diagnostic tools and tests for patients with this condition: unfortunately, these tests are often used as a last resort. On a deeper unfortunate level, many physicians have never ordered these types of tests and probably never will. In my observation, after initially being misdiagnosed by too many doctors, I have personally found that it is rare to find a physician who is progressive enough to quickly put the puzzle pieces together. Even worse, since my diagnosis, I've informed doctors of my condition and they remain dangerously ignorant. If you have any kind of adrenal insufficiency, you must be very discerning when selecting a doctor and you must develop a heightened level of good sense. Perhaps we are living in an age with such severe information overload at the touch of a finger that we have fostered an excuse to embrace less critical thinking. I tend to think of it as a "nurtured lazy mindset." Sometimes, the answer to our problem requires creative thought processes. Today, doctors seem to have become more reliant upon routine testing and simple textbook answers instead of their own thinking processes.

One of my last trips to an emergency room in Houston's fabulous Medical Center found me sitting in a little room with a doctor holding a computerized questionnaire that provided a script for him to follow and for me to answer so he could "cover all the bases."

What????? Is this for real??????

My question is: Why do we need doctors with all of their medical training if we only need to sit before a computerized system and answer the questions presented to us on the screen? To be honest, the doctor stood before me with this little machine and he asked the questions with a monotone voice, and he appeared to be deflated, degraded and without any personality. How sad!

If you have seen the series "House," then you realize that this entire concept of finding a "thinking" doctor is striking the heart of most fans because the show's premise is becoming a foreign concept. Is your doctor truly competent enough to be thought of as being "...trained in the healing arts?" or is your doctor enjoying the white coat and stethoscope fashion show? Is your doctor focusing on your symptoms and your health or is he daydreaming of his next sportscar as you try to discuss your symptoms? Considering these obstacles, it's a good thing to find a doctor who is very good at making a difficult diagnosis and to find ANOTHER doctor who is wonderful at treating the condition you are diagnosed with having. Know the difference and you will save valuable time, money and effort. If your doctor is not listening or is trying to affix a quick label on your head that you feel is wrong, be ready to challenge his reasoning. Your life may depend on it.

And, once you find a doctor who shows outward signs of actually putting the mind to work, then you might want to stick with him. Good doctors are not necessarily affiliated with a Gucci facility or hospital name, that incredible doctor with awesome cognitive abilities might be tucked inside your own hometown inside his little family practice.