If you have been reading my columns regularly in the Wingham Advance Times or my blog, you must be impressed by the attention that I get.
There is no real secret to getting the attention of all of these doctors. The key is your Personal Care Doctor (PCD). They are really interested in your health, but they do not have a lot of time for each patient. The system does need adjustment.
I am a difficult patient.
Way back when (in 2015) I met my PCD the first time, I explained that I really believe in self-care and preventative medicine. She explained to me that she was a country family doctor with limited experience and training in many specialties. Her specialty was as a family doctor – perfect for a rural setting. So we made a deal. I learned that the family doctor was the key to getting into the system that would give me the best care when needed. If I had a health issue that is beyond her experience and training, she would make a referral to a specialist for me. The catch, for me, was that I had to find the specialist doctor that I wanted and provide my PCD the specialist’s name and fax number. My PCD then made the referral appointment, if she agreed with me.
My PCD didn’t always agree, but in most cases we did. Thus, I have a neurologist for my dementia; an oncologist and surgeon for my cancers; and a rheumatologist for my autoimmune disease (dermatomyositis – DM). I see these specialists on a regular or as needed basis. I very seldom see my PCD. She keeps all my health records from all my appointments. All of the specialists are supposed to send my appointment records to her.
DM was the toughest speciality to find due to its rarity. Finding the correct diagnosis called for a month of testing in the hospital. I was very glad that I ended up in a “teaching” hospital. I had a parade of student doctors all wanting to talk with me about my health issues. And I learned from them.
My PCD was tough. If I had not done my homework, then I could easily lose the possibility of getting a particular specialist. This system failed when I wanted to see a psychologist or geneticist and my PCD did not agree with my request. Thus, I didn’t get this specialist appointment.
I am an advocate of precision medicine, often called personalized medicine. It offers, to its clients, premium medical care from head to toe. Services provided can be: dementia/Alzheimer’s, genomics, allergies, gynecology, general medicine, cardiology, psychiatry, rheumatology, physiotherapy, ophthalmology, osteology, dermatology, dental hygiene, ENT, pediatrics, dentistry, and more as needed.
Personalized care takes the “whole system” approach. It allows individuals to have control over their own mental and physical health. As a patient, I want to be involved in my medical treatments. The support and treatments that I received from the London Health Science Centre hospitals indicate to me that I was receiving a personalized medicine approach. Is this a first step to precision medicine? I think so. I hope so.
At no time am I aware that the three specialists and the PCD would get together and review my health status. I would prefer this but I have to deal with each speciality one at a time. I would prefer if a nurse, at least, with each speciality, would meet with me in one group in order to bring me up to date with my overall health, but that doesn’t happen. To me, this would be a positive case of personalized medicine, reviewing with me my health from head to toe. Maybe this could be done virtually. I would be pleased to finally find out what is going on with my seemingly convoluted medical treatments. This knowledge would be great for my peace of mind. And, I feel that my health would improve, through developing a positive attitude. I do ask for and get a lot of my records but that sometimes just brings up more questions. Written explanations are difficult for me.
I’m would hope that my PCD would fill this function one day, and soon.
Bob Murray is retired from the graphic communication industry, living in Seaforth, and was diagnosed with Dementia in 2013. Follow his blog – https://myvoyage553264702.wordpress.com.