Dreading the search for a doc
March 20, 2017
by Ivan Raconteur

My life changed in a subtle, but unpleasant way recently when I called to make an annual appointment to see my doc.

The clinic informed me he has moved on to accept a job in hospital administration.

Naturally, I wish the man well, but I’m not sure he realized how his career choice would affect me. It would have been preferable, from my point of view, if he had waited for me to cash in my chips before he changed jobs.

He had been my doc for about 15 years, and I liked him. He was practical, and not prone to over-reaction, which I appreciated.

The last doc I saw before finding this one was a highly excitable bird who acted as if everything were a dire emergency.

My doc also made it seem like addressing my health concerns was the point of the visit (that sounds obvious, but I haven’t always felt that way with other physicians).

I especially liked the fact that even though he, like most in his profession, was a busy person, when he showed up in the exam room he would always take a moment to sit down, look me in the eye, and ask how things were going. That simple gesture, during which he never appeared rushed or distracted, made all the difference.

I don’t find it easy to talk to medical people in the first place, and some doctors seem like they are running a marathon. By the time they rush in and glance at the chart, they are already looking at their watch and edging toward the door.

I never felt that with this doc. For that brief moment, he made it clear he was prepared to listen. It is that kind of attitude that puts the care in health care.

He did not waste my time telling me every time he saw me that I should lose weight. I don’t need to pay someone good money to hear that. People have been telling me for years I am too fat, and they do so gleefully and absolutely without charge.

I am well aware of the fact I should lose weight. I can’t pass a mirror, walk up stairs, or shop for clothes without being reminded of this.

My doc didn’t feel compelled to tell me every five minutes I should be more active. I know that, and he knew I knew it. If I asked for advice, he gave it, but he did not insist on pointing out the obvious.

He was my doc for years. He knew my history, which made things more comfortable when I had to see him.

Now, I have to find a new guy.

I don’t like going to the doc in the best of times, and starting with someone new is not the best of times.

It isn’t a matter of doctors not being professional. It is just that the nature of our interaction puts us on a very intimate, if one-sided level. I don’t think seeing a doctor bothered me as much when I was younger, but as I have gotten older, frankly there is more to be self-conscious about.

My reserved Finnish/English background doesn’t help. When I was growing up, our family never talked about personal matters. I guess I never developed the skill.

When I have to fill out those forms about family medical history, I am at a loss because I have no idea what diseases or ailments my relatives had. These things were never discussed in our house, or, if they were, our parents never shared those discussions with me or my siblings.

I’d rather be dead in a ditch than to have to talk with a complete stranger about highly personal items, but it looks like that is what I’m going to have to do, since my physician has abandoned me.

My former doc was a young guy, and I was sure he would be practicing long after I have any need of a physician. The news of his moving on changed my outlook in one morning.

I suppose I will eventually find a new guy who will be able to do the job, but it seems rather hit-and-miss. It is odd to think of shopping for a new doc the way one would shop for a car or a refrigerator.

Before I found my last guy, I mostly relied on the luck of the draw. If I wasn’t comfortable with someone, I would try someone else the next time around. Unfortunately, doing that forced me to see someone new every time, which I hated.

I’m not aware of any kind of matching service to help connect prospective patients to new physicians, although it wouldn’t shock me if such a thing existed. Even if such a service were available, I think I’d find it too weird to use anyway.

One thing about which I am certain is that I’m not looking forward to the process of starting over.

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