This question actually has multiple answers and is a more complicated process than selecting a primary care physician. The usual selection criteria apply of course: 1) Is the doctor in your network? 2) Are they local and easy to get to? 3) Does their availability(office hours) fit your availability? 4) Do they have good reviews? 5) Do you know anyone personally in your family or friend group that already sees them so that you can get firsthand feedback?
These are good to go by when attempting to select any physician, bearing in mind that reviews on google can be written by anyone anywhere, even if they have never been in the office in question. Having family feedback is good as well, provided that you know the whole story surrounding their comments. ( i.e Grandma Martha hates Dr. X, but also has multiple no show appointments and owes the office a lot of money that they are rightfully trying to collect) You see what I mean? Even the seemingly best source of information does not compare to your own personal experience.
Having clarified all that, I feel that selecting an obgyn adds yet an additional level in selection complexity. Finding the right obgyn means finding someone with a communication style and listening skills that make you feel comfortable enough to discuss some of your most personal and potentially embarrassing issues. I mean, you can’t go discussing your vagina and hormones with just anybody. Hopefully you are able to find somebody that listens and “gets you” at the same time.
This is the kind of thing I strive for the most….the listening part I mean. It is so so important. Many of the women that I see are frustrated because they have spent years dealing with unresolved issues because they either did not feel comfortable mentioning them to their previous physicians or they were dismissed. This should never happen. Every single patient deserves to be listened to and, in my opinion, if they have an issue that you are not prepared to deal with, they should be referred onward to someone that can. The patient should never have to suffer due to your lack of comfort or familiarity with their particular problem.
I received a compliment once from a patient that I did not understand at first, but now I consider it one of the best compliments I have ever gotten. She said that coming to my office was like coming to a girlfriend’s house. At first I thought, what the heck does she do at her girlfriend’s house? My face must have registered my confusion for a minute because she went on to explain what she meant. She meant that I was able to make her so comfortable at my office that she was able to disclose and discuss anything and everything that she wanted to. That is my job, my sacred mission, and what it’s all about. Have a great night everybody!
Traditionally, I would say this in reference to men…and to sell more Mr. Clean specials at the laser center! But now, I have joined the club. A healthy dose of cancer shedding, being tired of constantly sweating, a clever idea from my daughter Katy and voila! I have joined the club! Granted, it has only been an hour since we publicly shaved my head on video, jamming out to 80s tunes and then shared it. But, you know, I feel weirdly relieved and liberated. True, this could all be the result of rash, steroid and chemo-induced flight of ideas decision making. It’s possible, but I truly don’t think that’s it.( Tune in tommorow to see if I am crying over my pile of hair. I’ll own it if I do..lol)
Seriously, I feel kind of liberated. On top of that, when I ran outside to howl for a minute, the breeze felt FAN FRICKING TASTIC! YESSSSS! I kind of danced around the yard a minute and let the moon bounce off the top of my head with relish. I think it boils down to the fact that this was MY decision on My terms. This was a weirdly welcome alternative to the constant worrying about when the next clump of hair was going to come out in public somewhere. It really was. My poor husband, on the other hand, is a little bit stunned. I think, for him, this is a smack in your face, unavoidable reminder of what is going on. I have to give him a minute. I have to remind him that it will be ok……and that I’m…still…..me. Have a fantastic, freeing night!
I have been pummelled lately with the adage that when you have cancer, your whole family does to and everyone that cares about you. At first I was like NO WAY! and THAT’S RIDICULOUS! No one else has tumors all over their body! No one else is getting poison shoved into their veins. C’MON! And then, I took a minute and got over myself and realized that that is not what that statement means. It doesn’t mean that everybody else is going through all the physical aspects of the cancer. It means that they are on their own emotional journey because the cancer is affecting someone they care about and they feel kind of helpless about it. They are having their own whirlwind of thoughts and feelings all the time as well. They have sorrow and sadness and anger all at the same time too. They need counselling too. The anger to me is actually sadder than the plain old sadness. I notice with my own family that I get caught in the crossfire of all of those feeling more than I care to. It is strange though, because, even though I get a lot of anger directed toward me, it doesn’t mean that they are actually angry at me. The way they describe it is that they are angry about what is happening to me and they don’t know how to express it. Well, combine that type of misdirected miscommunication with a dose of my current oversensitivity( and me being off prozac to boot) and we have a real mess on our hands at times. Suffice it to say, we are keeping the therapy offices busy right now and it still doesn’t always work out the best. It is a work in progress to be sure. Having said that, now that I have a better understanding of what that statement means, I can make better attempts at not taking their emotions personally. So maybe, if they can try a little harder not to misdirect and I can try a little harder to understand that they are going through stuff too, we can do a little better together.
I had no idea just how much guilt comes with chronic disease. This may not be true for everyone, but it is definitely true for me. I just can’t seem to balance the whole “just concentrate on getting better” side of me with the side that is worried about everybody else, my business, other people’s schedules, my patients, and just generally letting people down with all of my limitations. Sometimes I think it takes me more time and energy to process all the guilt and worrying than it would just to be sick. I get it. That sounds ridiculous, but it is the truth for me. It is just a tough balance for me.
You know what I think would be a good idea? We should sit patient’s down, after they have had a chance to digest the news of their new diagnosis, and hook them up with a mentor or counsellor to sit them down and help them start to wade through and plan for all the other complications and stuff that comes with any chronic illness. It might make it less overwhelming than just having everything smack you in the face as it comes, while you are busy trying to “just concentrate on getting better.” I get that some cancer patients have patient navigators, but the main role of these individuals is to keep the patient on track in terms of appointments, tests, and treatments. This is useful to be sure, but the real trick is managing all the outside life stuff that is on top of the tests, etc. I say we start offering life navigators too because, in most cases, the damage that is done with all the life fails, failed relationships, missed work, and unpaid bills far exceeds whatever damage the cancer inflicted.