One of my requirements for managing MCTD is regular doctor appointments with my Rheumy and they can be anywhere from 4 months to 6 months depending on what he sees, how my blood work looks and if we are making any changes. It has been 6 months since my last appointment but in that time I have reduced 2 medications, started biking and have gone over 320 days without a flare so this appointment went very well and we are not making any changes as we speak.
The routine of my appointment is get called in by the nurse, weight, blood pressure, prescription refills, issues and then when the doctor is ready he stands outside the door looking at my chart trying to get a sense of who is behind that closed door and what kinds of things need to be addressed. In this case the nurse for warned me that he had a resident with him on the day of my appointment and would I mind if he came in to listen. I certainly never mind as I think the more exposure our young doctors get is just better for all of us in the long run.
As he stood outside the closed door with the resident he opened my chart and I heard him say “oh this patient is unlike any other you have met today. She takes her health very seriously and mostly is so active that fitness is part of her management process.” Of course I am smiling from ear to ear inside my little room and wondering how the 3 of us are going to fit in here and what is this resident going to think of me. Before every appointment I must wait in the waiting room like everyone else and when you are sitting there you cannot help but notice the extremely frail, sick, and in pain people all dealing with their own medical issues. Rheumatologists deal with many different diseases so I have no idea who has what but you can tell the newly diagnosed ones, the ones that have been coming to this place forever, the ones that age is taking its toll and the ones that are really sick and coming to the appointment is probably all they will accomplish that day. We all have our own levels of disease, what I do is not what others can do but I didn’t start out where I am. I had to work from the bottom to get where I am today and my chart indicates everything I have ever done. I do not make changes, decisions, or try anything new without first running it by my Rheumy, he is truly the one doctor in my life that looks at all aspects not just my MCTD but everything and even though I have other doctor’s they have not figured out that I’m one person and what they suggest could have repercussions for other areas but my Rheumy is thinking of me as one person with many aspects.
He has never said no to my crazy of ideas of alternative therapies, he has never said no to diet change requests, he has never said no ever except to coming off of prednisone and I’m still working to change that no to a maybe or even a yes.
The resident had lots of questions but I think he was supposed to sit and listen. I’m ok answering questions and at this point nothing is private so I gave him the green light to ask. He wanted to know how I started exercise and with pain how does that work and how the medications I’m currently taking make me feel. This young man could very well replace my doctor one day and I want him to be educated in every aspect and not just by book. We are all different, we do different things and we recover differently. I have co-worker that goes to the same doctor for her RA we are not anything alike and I don’t judge her but I do realize that when we walk in there we are walking in at very different places in our lives. The doctor’s we come in contact with have to understand that as well and meet us where we are. This young doctor is well on his way to a successful career helping many people with autoimmune diseases, arthritis and other medical issues.