My downward health spiral started just over six years ago. In that time, I’ve seen many doctors; some in the hospital during admissions/ER visits, and mostly, when trying to find the right doctor to help me. For example, my kick ass endo was not my first. I estimate a good five prior to getting into his practice.
The team I have now is amazing. They have really all made a huge difference in my healthcare, and have gone above and beyond for me in many ways. My main doctors (primary, nutrition, gastroenterologist, endocrinologist, diabetic endocrinologist, neurologist, etc) have all helped me at different times of my life. For instance, at my absolute sickest, my endocrinologist was the connection that got me to my nutritionist/MD who started me on TPN. I credit the both of them for saving my life. If that hadn’t happened, I don’t know where I’d be right now. Honestly, I may not even be here. Super morbid, yes, but I was spending literally every day going to the hospital getting treatment that was barely holding me together. I don’t think that would have kept me together much longer.
Fast forward to last winter. I was in a rough place physically. I was in a downward spiral and my health was getting worse. I was emotionally drained from the constant vomiting, everything hurt, and I was slowly but surely becoming malnourished again. I got into a new GI. Oddly enough, the doctor I was referred to see was out on maternity leave. I heard she was one of the best so I wasn’t happy when she wasn’t who I was going to see.
Since the moment he walked into the exam room, my doctor put me first. He listened, he HEARD me, he cared, and above all, he brought me back to life. He’s seen me cry many times, and somehow always had an answer how to make it better. He answered calls on the weekend, and got me the best care possible. He performed two of the most important (and successful) surgeries I’ve had. He guided me through the process carefully, always answered my questions, and never pressured me into making a decision. Both of those surgeries I might add, were two of the best decisions I ever made for my health. He also went out of his way and helped me find the doctor who performed my recent hip surgery.
He supported my dream to run again; he encouraged me, and never failed me. I’ve told many people about this unicorn of a doctor. I’d seen a handful of GI’s before him, and none went to the measures he did. You can tell he truly cares about helping his patients thrive, not just survive. His reputation around the hospital was the same. Checking in for any procedure, when you mention he’s the doctor I’d always hear Oh he’s the best! You’re in great hands! As a patient, it’s important to feel safe with your doctor.
Recently I had to deal with the upsetting news that due to unforeseen circumstances, he left the practice. To say I didn’t take it well was an understatement. I broke down and sobbed. Not only because I would no longer see the doctor who helped me so much, but because my healthcare was no longer in the hands of someone I trusted. Gastroparesis has had the most impact on my life, and the disease that took the most from me. With his help, I was able to take some of my power back and live my life in spite of this bastard of an illness.
The news of his departure was a straight punch in the gut. Not going to lie, I’m not okay. It’s been a few days since I found out, and I’m still not okay. I know eventually things will work themselves out, and because he got me this far, I know I can handle a lot on my own. I’m just hoping he won’t go far, and I’ll still be able to be a patient.
I’ve wondered how it would be to lose any one of my main doctors. They’re not retiring soon, but they’re not spring chickens anymore. I know it’ll happen eventually, but this one hurts. It’s scary for me, but it’s also sad. I wrote about it before, but he was one of the first people I talked to (besides my family) when I completed my 5K last fall. I was so excited to tell him I finally did it! In ten months time, he helped me go from malnourished and hopeless, to running and capable. He couldn’t cure me, but he sure as hell did everything he could.
If you have a doc like him in your life, make sure they know how much they’ve helped you. It’s important for them to know they’ve made an impact on your life, and what they’re doing worked. Many doctors just go through the motions. Some don’t do much for us. Some truly save our lives. Some go above and beyond. Some become like family. They see you at your worst, and offer a helping hand. They fight for you when you need help. Sometimes they are part therapist too.
I’ll never forget how defeated I was that first appointment with him. I’d been on the chronic illness roller coaster for so long, I was at the point of giving up. I was tired of the ups and downs. I was truly exhausted. I was tired of trying. I was tired of illness taking everything away from me. But he saw the small spark of my fire still burning, and he helped me remember who the f*ck I was….and I came out burning brighter than ever. Thank you for believing in me.