Got a second…Get an opinion

January 30th, 2011

Do you often leave the doctor’s office wishing there was more they could do for you? More tests they could run? More attention they could pay to you and any potential health issues that you may be experiencing?

I am in no way shape or form bashing doctors but bottom line is that there are many cases of medical misdiagnoses. As patients, we find ourselves at the mercy of what our doctors tell us and we accept it because they have the degrees and expertise. We rarely question the diagnosis when we feel it could be more than what they tell us…but why not?

For months I did not feel up to par health wise. I would go to see a doctor and explain my symptoms, but at times I felt that they were rushing to get me out so they could move on to the next patient. That they were not paying attention to my concerns. I decided to go back and schedule another appointment with a different doctor but I still felt the same way after leaving the appointment. Although discouraged, I could not deny that I was not feeling my normal self and that my body was screaming to tell me that something was not right. I did not know what it was. I needed a doctor to help me find that out.

The third time around I was seen by a doctor I found myself in a familiar situation (this was 3-4 months after the first 2 visits with doctors that quickly brushed me off and told me that I had muscle pain and did not order any x-rays for me even upon my request). The doctor asked some questions, I told them my symptoms but this time was different. I was finally prescribed medication; the doctor said I had acid reflux. I remember leaving that day somewhat relieved because this was the first time in months that a doctor told me that there was something going on with me and prescribed me medicine. Unfortunately, in my case it was the wrong medication and a misdiagnosis.

For 1 month straight I continued the medicine that should be used to treat someone that has acid reflux. The doctor told me to take the medicine for 30 days and make a follow up appointment after that if it didn’t help my situation. I did not feel any better, if anything my condition got worse. It would hurt when I breathed, I had constant back and shoulder pain, lost close to 20 pounds in 2 months, had a loss of appetite and constant fatigue. I would come home from work at 5:30pm, be in bed by 9pm and still wake up tired the next morning. I wanted nothing more but for someone to tell me what was wrong with me but felt discouraged to go back to the doctors again because they did not take me seriously and I thought it would be a waste of time.

Then one night I woke up in a deep sweat. It was not summer time, the temperature in the house was fine and I did not have a heavy blanket over me so I could not justify this. I let one day pass and the next night the same thing happened. It was as if I jumped in a pool and then lay in bed soaking wet. I kept my condition private and rarely discussed it with my family because I did not want to worry them but it was around this time that they knew of these night sweats. My soon to be sister-in-law arranged for an appointment for me to see a doctor at the Montreal General Hospital (her place of employment), but she needed a reference note from a family doctor.

The tide felt like it was finally turning and I was on the road to finding out what was wrong with me because the fourth time around at the clinic, for once my doctor payed attention to me and after listening to all my symptoms, the doctor did not refuse my chest x-ray request and reference note needed to go to Montreal General Hospital for further examination. Once there, my brother (also working at the General Hospital), arranged the next set of tests for me and made sure that I was seen by the best doctors he knew of. Finally, after close to 6 months and being seen by 5 different doctors, I was properly diagnosed. I was relieved. Now that I knew what I had, I could properly set out to face it. The problem is with the not knowing.

I don’t feel discouraged to see my doctor anymore because I have a new frame of mind. I research my symptoms and discuss them with my doctors. If I am not happy with what my doctor tells me and my instincts tell me there is something more happening; I will continue to go see different doctors until I feel an improvement in my health.

I encourage you all to do the same. Don’t feel unsatisfied with what your doctor tells you about your health–perhaps, just maybe they have overlooked something that could potentially turn into a bigger health problem. Get a second, third, fourth of fifth opinion if you need to. A doctor and the appropriate tests ordered will shed light on your symptoms, but ultimately your health lies in your hands.

9 Responses to “Got a second…Get an opinion”

  1. RS says:

    So true. It seems the only time we will argue with someone with a specific expertise is when it actually comes down denominated in monetary terms…I too never really objected to my doctor’s diagnosis..from such things as an ear or throat infection, or anything minor..but when it came time for something serious (i.e. a surgery as a result of too much of a time delay in treatment), I finally stepped up…now I question on whether if I had stopped to question at an earlier point in time, I would not have to bear the risks of surgery etc..etc……bottom line is health should always come first and if you feel something is not right, raise it until you feel right, or else it could very easiliy turn into being too late, as unfortunate as that sounds…we seem to care the least about the thing that allows us to live for everything else…our health…

  2. Mitea says:

    I’m glad to read your post. Good job, thanks

  3. Logan says:

    Well. Impressive work. Thanks a lot for this, i can relate to what u say. Lookin’ forward to c your next post.

  4. chanda says:

    Its so true.Considering the fact that we are living here we should be getting exceptional service from docs…but no. They have a long wait time even after having made an appointment….so many forms to fill only for a simple thing like a blood test ! and yes i don’t trust the docs here…the only doc i trust is my family doc in India.

  5. Kulwant Dhanjal says:

    So true Hanspal.Follow your instinct and don’t give up unless you get some answers. If not satisfied then consider seeing another Doctor.
    In your case thank God for early diagnosis and treatment.
    wish you all the best in the world.

  6. Bhagwant says:

    The matter of the fact is that in this materialistic world, everybody pays more importance to money than the life of a human being in jeopardy.
    Doctors are not God, they are only human beings and goes by the book. One should go with his inner instincts. The body does tell humans if there is something wrong. Most of the times human neglects to go to see doctor or have a second opinion on her/his situation. Be attentive and persuasive till you are satisfied with the answers. Now a days prepare yourself through internet before visiting a doctor and prepare yourself for question during your visit. A stitch in time saves nine. Good article Hans.

  7. CoOlIe says:

    It’s a very frightening thought that you have been through all this to get a straight answer! But this goes to say only we know our bodies the best! No doctor in this world can know it better than us since we had it our whole lives! So until you are comfortable with an answer keep searching you only have one life to live so make sure it is well taken care of! On a lighter note I sure hope you make it to Vegas soon!!! You a very lucky that you have a hard-headed sister-in-law who forcefully got you where you needed to be to land on the road to recovery! Take great care of yourself and from what I can read you already do! :)

  8. Paully says:

    Thank you everyone for your comments.

    I would just like to add that I am in no way implying that doctors are “bad” and that you should avoid seeing them. Its just the opposite, I encourage you all to go see a doctor for a regular health check up and when you are not feeling well. To further assist your doctor write down all your symptoms, see what they tell you and do your own research based on what you are feeling. Get involved with your health, pay attention to it just as the doctor should; if you feel that they are not, then go see another doctor that will. Doctors are not God and thus they make mistakes, so we need to be proactive with our health and work together with doctors so the proper diagnosis is made.

    If we go out to eat at a restaurant and the service is not great, we tend to shy away from that particular restaurant the next time around. It’s not like we discontinue to go out and eat at all restaurants. It just means that we demand a better quality for ourselves. Furthermore, receiving “bad service” at one restaurant does not mean that all restaurants have bad service. We simply try out another restaurant until we are satisfied by how we are treated, quality and service rendered. We need to use this same logic when seeing a doctor. We need to look to get the best service and if we feel unsatisfied, then we need to go see another doctor until we feel right.

  9. SS says:

    Hanspaul, the best advice you can give to anybody on this blog is to be self-aware. You are absolutely correct. In the 15 minute encounter you have with a physician, he/she can only work with the information that you provide, synthesize it and give you a statistics based answer that fits with your collection of complaints. If your physician is unaware of your issues or is unable to give you a suitable answer, there are really only 3 possibilities:
    1 – You, as the patient, have not conveyed your message or have left out details.
    2 – The Physician, is unaware,uniformed or unsympathetic about your condition.
    3 – Your condition is rare, odd or doesn’t fit into the “usual” collection of signs for diagnosis.

    All 3 of those points highlight the need for impeccable communication. If there is a breakdown only 2 people are at fault. You or the Doctor. After leaving a Dr’s office unsatisfied with an answer you must ask yourself, did I tell him/her everything I wanted to tell them about whats been bothering me?
    If no, heed the advice to ensure that you bring a list of questions to every encounter.
    If the answer is yes, tell the doctor you are not happy with their explanation. You might be surprised to learn how helpful that is for your own benefit and for the benefit of all patients moving forward. If given a second chance to analyze your situation a responsible physician will(should) recognize their limitations and refer you for a second opinion on their own. If not, by all means search for an answer until you are satisfied.
    Ultimately, the Doctor-Patient relationship is a partnership not an opposition. The goal is to ensure your health and you must help each other accomplish that extremely important task.

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