Who would think that a relationship with one’s medical doctor could be as important in certain ways as the ones we have with our family and friends. I didn’t. So I was surprised today to learn that my doctor of six years is moving on to another position and won’t be managing my medical care any longer. Actually, I was more than surprised. I was shocked. The news rocked my underpinnings.
In general, I only see him yearly for my physical. But these aren’t 15-minute visits. They always last at least an hour, and over those 60 minutes we exchange a lot of information. Some of it is medical. He loves to teach and is wonderful at putting certain problems within a context. For example, my cholesterol numbers had risen, but he broke down the different elements: HDL (the good cholesterol), LDL (the bad stuff), and the total (which combines good and bad) and how high HDL counters the problematic fat). He also explains that often death certificates read “died of a heart attack” because the examiner doesn’t have an accurate diagnosis. That then skewers the statistics and makes it sound as if more people die of heart problems than is actually the case.
The non-medical? We chat about the current political situation and exchange info on travels we’ve taken. I know that his Oakland Hills house was destroyed in a fire just as mine was in San Rafael in 1992. He also is a musician, and his weekend gigs thoroughly refresh him, the music giving him a foundation from which he can better practice medicine.
For someone like myself who tends to be high anxiety, these visits have helped reduce my stress about doctor’s appointments and have created an unexpected intimacy. So when I said my farewells today, it wasn’t a surprise that I teared up. As I mentioned in my last post, “Creating a Village,” communities and familiarity are important. My doctor has been part of my world for six years, and it’s difficult to see it change. Though I wish him well in his new venture, I just wish it included me as a patient!