Get a Second Opinion

Last updated: October 2022

I could go on and on about my first kidney doctor. But I am trying to my blood pressure down, so I’ll keep it short. When first diagnosed, my kidneys were near failure based on the numbers, but they seemed to be working and I had no symptoms of failing kidneys. Nonetheless, the doctor wanted me to start dialysis and in fact, strong armed me into getting an AV fistula in my left wrist to use for dialysis. At the time, we were just trying to stay alive and didn’t have the wherewithal to question the doctor. I did know enough to decline dialysis. I found a new kidney doctor and have managed to baby my kidneys along. I haven’t done dialysis yet. Knock on wood. And the fistula doesn’t even work anymore.

Thank goodness for the new doctor

I was reminded of this recently as I have tried to figure out how to improve my problematic back. I’ve got degenerative discs at multiple levels. I also have small fractures on small parts of the bones. It’s a perfect storm of age, genetics and 11 years of high dose steroids. Currently I’m doing physical therapy and refining my activities to strengthen my core. It feels a million times better than it did a few months ago, when I could barely get into a car or even stand up straight. Fortunately, I found a back doctor that understands myeloma, myeloma treatment and how best to treat my back.

Some too quick to do surgery

However, the first back doctor I saw looked at my MRI and immediately wanted to do surgery, without even considering that my bones are weak and I’m suffering from osteopenia, again as a result of steroids. Surgery would only make things worse. Thank goodness I didn’t stick with this doctor.

My myeloma doctors

I have two different doctors for my myeloma. My hematologist, who diagnosed me and who I love and trust completely. He sent me to a specialist when he initially had challenges finding a treatment regimen that would work. So, I also have my myeloma specialist. He actually comes up with my drug protocol.

When I am considering any changes, I consult with both doctors and then make a decision. Of late, we’ve lowered my steroids because I absolutely cannot stand them anymore, even though I know they are vital. I spoke with both doctors and made a decision to lower them. My point is that both doctors know that I use them both and both are fine with it.

Don'r worry about the doctor's feelings

My mom recently was considering getting a second opinion on heart issues she is having. But she is concerned that the first doctor will have their feelings hurt or might be mad. We tell her to get that second opinion or even a third. If a doctor is bothered by this, then perhaps they are not the doctor for you.

I’m fortunate that I have my wife as my caregiver. She’ll question anyone that doesn’t have my best interests in mind. And she is a meticulous note taker, which is great when we’re trying to remember when I switched drugs and when I had a procedure done. My nature has always been to not make waves, but when it comes to my health I've learned to speak up when it’s needed.  So please, whatever you do in your health journey, never be afraid to get second opinions.

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