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When My General Practitioner Left and It Was Time to Find a New Doctor

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My general practitioner (GP) recently left his practice to work at a tech firm. No one saw it coming, least of all me. Funny, as you get older, all the docs you actually like and trust finally leave their practices to go to another job, retire or just plain die. In his “later gator” letter, he indicated that his new suite mate would be taking over his patients. Ugh! How do you explain 55 years of medical history, including mast cell activation disorder, chronic pain and everything else aging has in store for you, in an hour? You just don’t.

So, half-halfheartedly, I set up an appointment with the new guy, a concierge doctor. We have six months to decide if we are a good match. On my way over to the office, I realized that while I was interviewing him, he too was interviewing me! This decision was not one-sided! At that point, my heart started to race and I got all sweaty. What if this newbie thinks I’m too high maintenance, too much this or too much that? I’ve been here before and it’s a most uncomfortable situation.

As I sat waiting in his office, my daydreams were full of rejection. “Hello, Elizabeth,” the new guy would say, “I’ve looked over all your charts and medical history, which are stacked from floor to ceiling – and you are just too complicated.”

The creaking door woke me from my reverie.

“Hi Elizabeth, Nice to meet you,” the tall, slim doctor said cheerily.

“Well, that’s a good sign,” I thought.

We ended up chatting for about an hour, but the first 15 minutes were the worst. When I get nervous, I get cotton mouth, and the dryness makes my upper lip stick to my upper gum. Try talking like that for a second. It looks weird and sounds even weirder.

Vigilantly eyeing him for scowls, eyebrow furrowing, head shaking, he maintained his composure and nodded, as if to say, “Yes, you are still making sense. I’m with you…”  Then he started yawning and stretching like a newborn baby. Was I boring him? Maybe he needed a cup of coffee, or some fresh air or a walk around the block! Before I could manufacture another thought, and without the slightest bit of forewarning, he jumped up, grabbed a tissue and walked to the wall behind me where he had spotted a teeny tiny bug crawling around. He squashed and killed it without flinching. I never squash bugs (except for ticks). I feel like they have a right to live as much as I do, so I usually coax them onto a paper towel and usher them outsid. But this flicker of rage bothered me – the new guy has a tendency to harm small, innocent creatures. The odds were definitely not stacked in his favor.

Next, he asked me about my water consumption. So, I answered honestly, without reservation, “I drink a lot of water, but always feel dried out…like a crispy, shrunken potato.” He looked up at me confused, repeating word for word, “A crispy, shrunken potato? I’ve never heard of anyone comparing themselves to a potato.” Trying to save face, I fibbed, “Well, I feel more like a crisp potato chip.” It looked like he kinda got the analogy…I think.

I should invest in several rolls of duck tape. Before a meeting, I’d have to tear it off my face before responding, allowing the pain to serve as a reminder to think before speaking. I just don’t have a filter. I am a visual person with a brain that creates wonderful and not so wonderful images of people, places, and situations. My impulse is to share my thoughts, unabashedly. And that’s exactly what happens – I share everything. There are few, if any, off limit topics.

As our discussion came to a close, he promised to follow-up with me, look at past findings and come up with a plan of action. He did not seem too overwhelmed, but definitely communicated that we had our work cut out for us! Extending my hand to say goodbye, he reciprocated with the worst handshake ever. I gently shook his lifeless, semi-rigid hand, which neither gripped nor shook. It just kind of hung in mid-air, letting me call the shots. It left me wondering if he had a backbone, strength, warmth, or character. Time will tell.

It’s hard to start anew. Mass interviewing for the job of my physician is not fun for either party – it’s really the pits, and nerve-racking, too. I can hear my former therapist (who also retired) say, “What other people think of you does not matter.” My brain accepts that logic, but my heart is not convinced. Yet, I know if the new guy is a fail, someone else will step up. There is someone for everyone, right?

Getty Image by Rawpixe

Originally published: July 18, 2018
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