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Starting from scratch – finding a new GP/PCP

Sarah Tee

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I am feeling a bit teary today. I found out that the GP who I was starting to build up a decent relationship with has gone on leave for at least a year, possibly not to return to the practice at all.

Prior to him, I had an older female GP who was pretty good, but she retired (well earned of course!). Then there were staff changes and not much help for a year until I got onto the chap who has just left ... 

So yesterday I had an appointment with a new doctor, and although it started well, she didn't know anything about my history, which is reasonably complicated, and by the time we got through the relevant bits, I got the feeling that she just wanted me out the door. I don't blame her; doctors are in a difficult situation under normal circumstances, let alone recently.

But here I am, facing starting from scratch again with a new doctor, whoever it is, trying to get them up to speed on my history, establish my "patient credentials" as someone who really needs help, educating them about dysautonomia (probably), educating them about my failed bowel surgery (it's an uncommon procedure and of course I have a rare complication), etc. etc.

I wish I could conduct interviews to choose someone new!

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I am asking around to various people for their recommendations, so hopefully that will help.

(Also, I didn't mention that there was some kind of meltdown in the admin staff at the practice late last year, which I was inadvertantly caught up in, and had two staff being very unpleasant to me. The other day I got a reminder call from the practice on another phone line, which I answered without knowing where it was coming from. It was not from a different staff member, but after the call ended I found myself shaking. Ashamed that they got to me, but the fact is they did.)

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@Sarah Tee - I am sorry you lost your GP, I know how devastating that can be b/c we are so dependent on our docs! --- With all of the problems you had with that practice, and now that your doc is no longer there, I personally would just switch practice all together. Having a bad relationship with staff at a practice can interfere with the way you communicate with them, and that can be bad for you. I fired several docs because they were either rude and ignorant or did not know about POTS ( or they thought they knew EVERYTHING about it ! ) You have to see a new doc anyway - so why put up with that office? 

Often we have to kiss several frogs before we find our prince. Good idea to ask around what exeriences others have with their GP. In general - if a physician is described as kind, compassionate and knowledgeable they make a good fit for POTS patients, whether they know about POTS or not. A understanding GP will listen, and take you serious - that means he/she will be willing to learn in order to help you with your symptoms. Best of Luck - don't settle!

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1 hour ago, Pistol said:

A understanding GP will listen, and take you serious - that means he/she will be willing to learn in order to help you with your symptoms. Best of Luck - don't settle!

I agree!  It is such a slog to find someone good and then if you do, you have to pray that you keep them.  I moved across the country recently and have had to start from scratch too.  The first doctor I met with --highly recommended to me--was so visibly annoyed with me and all my problems by the end of the initial meeting that I just moved on.  It was clear that I was too complicated for her, and feeling unequal to it, she took it out on me.  Not a good start.  

I don't know what your situation is @Sarah Teein terms of options/insurance, etc, but I usually (and I did not do this with the aforementioned disaster) just ask and tell--I have a complex situation and history, I don't expect you to know everything, but I am looking for someone who will work with me to try out various possibilities and who is comfortable making referrals to specialists when indicated--how do you feel about that?  I can usually tell--there is either a bit of reluctance which means when the rubber hits the road I am going to find myself alone, or there is a pretty clear willingness to 'work with me.'  In other words, a mini-interview.  Pass/fail!

With the admin staff adverse, I would think seriously about @Pistol's advice to just find another practice if that is possible.  We are not easy patients to have, but we can be delightful, interesting and a pleasure to know.  If they aren't seeing that, then you are probably just too much in their eyes.  No reason to stay for that.

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Thanks @Pistol and @Jyoti – I am going to quit that practice. It is about 20 mins away, but there is a larger town 40 mins away with plenty of practices. In Australia, we can go to any general practice that has vacancies, so I will be able to "shop around" to some extent. I used to visit the larger town once a fortnight or so for shopping and social activities, so I don't mind going there.

I like the idea of gauging the doctor's receptiveness. I would love to have someone that would work with me. One doctor I tried out for a while was completely passive, and I was telling her what to do, with no input or plan on her side. Then you get the opposite, where they say "no" to everything and won't listen to you.

I found out there is a plan that can be drawn up for patients that have chronic conditions or who have to see various specialists. Your doctor gets a little extra time funded to coordinate your care and there are regular follow-up dates set. I am going to try to get that done, because once you have it, it can be referred to if your usual doctor is away. I am not sure if it is transferable to another practice if I have to change again – will have to find out.

My blood pressure, which is usually in the normal range, went up to 170 tonight. I was lying in bed for an hour, but I found myself feeling as though I'd just been exercising. Had a cup of tea and read your nice messages, and it is going down. A small taste for me of the unpleasantness that the rest of you feel with raised BP every day.

Next week we are getting some minor work done on the house. American-inspired storm sashes on the front windows, new solid-wood doors, and the kitchen partitioned off (with a door that can be opened wide). Should improve the cooling in our hot summer and cut a bit of street noise. So I'm trying to think of that to look forward to.

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