Having the Right Doctor

Getting the right doctor is one of the most important things you could do for your health. Everyone suggests you get a second opinion, and while it is a pain in the neck to do so, it is so worth your time. We did not do this and we have always regretted it. We had the worst doctor ever. I guess I shouldn’t say that exactly. Here's what happened...

Balancing a doctor we like with convenience

Crystal, my adult daughter, went to Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City and saw a doctor we liked. We didn’t want to keep going to the city though, so there was another doctor who worked under our first doctor at a closer facility to us. We decided to do that, especially after we saw how she reacted to her first treatment. Since we had to use the bus system to get in and out of the city, we decided that staying in Westchester was a better fit.

Noticing red flags

Our first meeting should have put up a red flag. We met with the doctor's nurse practitioner, who was wonderful, thank God, and ran circles around the doctor himself. He asked her opinion when answering questions for us or emailed the first doctor we saw in the city. We did not trust this doctor, but we kind of felt as though we had to see him if we wanted to stay local in Westchester. We could have had a choice, but we didn’t realize it at the time. We also thought we would mostly see the nurse practitioner and we were comfortable with her. Truthfully, we mostly only saw the nurses and they were totally awesome!

Looking back, we would definitely have done things differently. Luckily, we no longer see that doctor and we now go into the city for Crystal’s follow up appointments. We decided to stay with the first doctor we saw because we liked him, but most importantly, trusted him.

A lesson learned

The moral of this story is that you have to be your own best advocate. I learned a lot from this experience and hope that in the future, in any situation, I speak up and demand the best. This is especially true when dealing with a health issue. I should have asked a lot of questions and found out if we could switch doctors. Crystal was in no shape to do this, and she was trusting her care to me. It turned out well in the end, but it could have been a little bit of a better experience had I looked into the idea of getting a new doctor. I guess I felt as though our service wouldn’t be as good if we made a fuss and I wanted Crystal to get better. Of course, that’s ridiculous, but at the time, I just wasn’t sure what to do to handle the situation. I’m not usually an outspoken person, which was definitely a flaw in this situation.

My advice: Second opinions and advocating for yourself

For something as serious as cancer, if you are uncomfortable in any way, seek a second opinion. Or at least ask lots of questions. I did ask the nurses about the doctor and was told he was well-liked by both patients and staff. He was not a fit for us though. The one question I didn’t ask was if we could have switched to someone else. If you come across the same type of experience, just know, you do have the power to fix it.

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