I just went to my quarterly Rheumatoid Arthritis check-up and left my doctor’s office thinking, “Did she even listen to me?” My first RA doctor was wonderful. She listened and tailored my treatment around me. She moved to a different location and, at the same time, I moved and had to change doctors. I have had three RA doctors since that time and not one has left me feeling that they cared or listened to me.
I am trying a new RA medicine because my last one stopped working. My doctor had added a different medication to my new medication but it caused me to be depressed, scary depressed. I told her I was stopping it. This was in an e-mail. When I went in to see her, she asked that I confirm that I was still taking both medications. When I told her that I had stopped the one because of depression, she argued with me that there has not been any reports of the medication causing depression. I told her that when I started the medication, the depression started and when I stopped the medication, the depression stopped. Cause and effect, right? Anyway, she proceeded to restate her belief that it was not the medication that caused the depression. Really? She seemed upset that I had stopped it even though I sent her an e-mail telling her that I was stopping it. I also sent her a follow-up e-mail telling her that I felt better since stopping it. I could tell that she did not believe me when I told her that the medication was the cause of my depression.
My doctor is convinced that because my lab reports are within “acceptable ranges” that the RA medication is working. I am convinced that it is not. I have constant joint pain. I have dry eyes and I have dry mouth. All of these are factors that indicate to me that my RA is not under control. My doctor looks at my labs and says that things are fine. Once again, really?
Speaking of dry mouth, my dentist told me that I needed to get my RA under control because the dry mouth was severely affecting my dental hygiene. My gums are receding at an alarming rate. My teeth hurt all the time. I see the dentist four times a year for a cleaning. Can you guess my RA doctor’s response? She told me to address my dental issues with my dentist. The same thing is true for my dry eyes. She told me to go back and see my eye doctor. When I was first starting my RA journey, the RA medication I was on addressed all these concerns and was doing a good job managing all my symptoms. This new one does not seem like it is doing much. My doctor did prescribe a new medication for the dry mouth but, of course, when I went to pick it up at the pharmacy, it was out of stock. My doctor also wants to add another medication for the treatment of the RA but she cannot do this until we know if the dry mouth medication is going to have side effects, etc. My issue with all of this is that all she does is add more medication on top of medication.
Biotene Gentle Mint Moisturizing Mouth Spray, Sugar-Free, for Dry Mouth and Fresh Breath, 1.5 ounce (Pack of 2)
You know what really bugs me is that my health plan is all about pushing medication. How about exploring diets and their impact with me or exercise options or home remedies. I see my RA doctor for 15 minutes and she normally changes or adds a medication. This does not feel like “managed health care.” It feels like pill pushing. I am a statistic not a patient.
Have I vented enough? The bottom line is that I have requested that I be reassigned to another RA doctor because I do not feel that my current one is listening to me.
I had stopped keeping a journal of my issues because I was having difficulties maintaining it. I have started again. I am going to make my next RA doctor listen to me and the things that I have experienced.
Doctors, please listen to us.
When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests