You’re On Your Own – Being Your Own Doctor

This post is part of the series about my experiences with today’s version of American healthcare, particularly associated with my wife’s fifty days and counting exposure to it after her fourth heart attack.

I’m sure I have interfaced with at least two dozen MDs in the last month and none of them, including my wife’s PCP, seem to look beyond one of her many present maladies. No one sees her as a person, only a condition found primarily from a blood test. Initially that was hard for me to accept, but as the time has gone by it has become abundantly clear.

The very concept of Primary Care Physician (PCP) is greatly tarnished now. I hope that what I have experienced is mostly limited to the one doctor, who just doesn’t seem to give a shit. He seems to be going through the motions and that is about it. He is older and only working mornings now, so don’t even try to see him past noon. He is anti-technology, so don’t try to get him to interface with the system database portal that is open to patients and doctors.

My Aspie traits just took over during our most recent visit to him. I struggled for three days to make an urgent appointment with him. I thought he would give us an overall plan for making my wife better. Instead, all he had to talk about was how critically low her potassium level was. It didn’t seem to bother him that she has lost 20 lbs in two weeks due to not being able to eat solid or almost any other food. When I asked him three direct questions about her current state, he just didn’t seem interested!

Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe there are people who really do care, but it seems their ability to do more is stifled by the near monopoly system in our State. I don’t know how typical my home State is, but one corporation has pretty much taken over all healthcare in the State. There are very few doctors now who have a “private” practice. They are all now grouped together in five or six person “teams” and no one seems to be in charge.

My wife has had the same cardiologist for about a dozen years now, but he is now part of a “team” of six or so others. I have interfaced with at least a half dozen cardiologists, but he was not one of them. The “team” has never told me if anyone is in charge, I doubt they even know.

One of my favorite medical TV shows is “The Good Doctor”. It is about a young doctor with Asperger’s syndrome who is a genius diagnostician. At least in my experience, that seems to be what is missing now, if it ever existed. Someone to take charge and look beyond their specialty. No one is in charge of the patient anymore, they only deal with their specialty. It is up to the patient and his family to try to make sense of it all.