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Why It's Important to Get a Second Opinion

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I was diagnosed with severe asthma in April of 2015. It has turned my life upside down. The drugs I have needed to keep breathing are steroids. I have needed these in large doses and very often.

The unwanted consequences have been serious, too: Type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease. But, I am still breathing.

While away on holiday, I became very ill, and after a stint in the hospital, I decided to find a local lung specialist as we plan to spend several months in this location during each summer. This would be a second opinion.

The very first specialist I saw three years ago was extremely dismissive and really hard to communicate with. He was not very happy to have to deal with all of the questions that I had. Perhaps this was arrogance, perhaps he just didn’t feel it was his job. I didn’t want to see him again!

I have a lung specialist where I live for most of the year and see him for about five minutes once a year. He sends me for lung function tests and doesn’t ask me anything much at all, he just tells me to keep doing what I am doing and that I am OK.

I visited this new specialist in February. He asked me lots of questions. I explained that I felt like the bottom of my lungs didn’t work and that the upper tubes felt like sandpaper had rubbed them raw. I couldn’t understand why I kept having attacks, nor why, during a flare-up, it hurt to breathe.

This specialist sent me for a barrage of tests that I had never had before! He discovered the cause of many of my problems. I have a hiatus hernia that is compressing my right lung, it’s bottom lobes don’t work. The reflux acid is actually getting into my lungs. This is why I have the raw feeling. This is why it actually hurts to inhale and exhale! This is why I keep having attacks without being able to identify a trigger! My lungs are constantly being inflamed.

After three years a specialist actually asked enough questions and listened to me. I will still have asthma, but maybe it will be able to be controlled now. I just have to take a fairly strong reflux medication.

I am so glad that I sought a second opinion. I am so grateful to the nurses who were prepared to discuss this with me. I had believed the two other lung specialists and just accepted that this was the way it was for me.

It is terribly important to seek out other opinions. This new lung specialist was young! He was an excellent communicator. He didn’t just make assumptions. I was listened to!

What I have learnt from this is that I must seek answers and get second opinions. No one specialist doctor is infallible, their diagnosis isn’t always correct.

Getty Image by dusanpetkovic

Originally published: April 27, 2018
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