Rheumatoid Arthritis Doctors’ Interviews

If kissing turns frogs into princes, what about heaters and RA doctors?

Frog on glassA friend of mine held a job interview yesterday. She did not hire him. It didn’t sound like he really wanted to be her doctor anyway.

It reminded me of this frog picture from last summer. If princesses have to kiss frogs until they find a prince, what do patients have to do to find a quality RA doctor?

There are all kinds of Rheumatoid Arthritis doctors…

Perhaps you’ve met the RA doctor who never looks you in the eye, Doctor Laptop. Maybe you know Dr. Dolittle, the RA doctor who seems to care very little and do even less to treat you as a person.

There was this Nurse Secret Agent. She slipped into the room quickly as soon as Dr. Dolittle was out of sight. She whispered to us not to tell the doctor her secret. She pulled a bent-up laminated sheet out of her shirt.

“Don’t tell him I’m doing this. His patients don’t get help with those medicines. This is a natural cure for the condition. Don’t let him see this.”

Rheumatoid Arthritis doctors and dressing for success


What a surprise last year when I met Doc Space Heater, a rheumatologist.

It was a whole day event. My son loaded my medical records and films into the ‘Burban.  My hair got the blow out I can manage a couple of times a month. I put on a suit and made the long ride to interview Doc Heater.

That morning, Doc Space Heater’s nurse had a run-in with the microwave that led to a little fire in the break room. To clear the smoke from the office, the manager turned the air conditioning on full blast. By the time we arrived, it was about 50 degrees in the office.

After an hour, a nurse placed us in an exam room which was even colder. She explained about the fire, asked me to undress, and handed over a large paper napkin to use to cover myself. Of course I had planned to conduct the interview in my suit. Aren’t you supposed to dress for success?

Twenty minutes later, the nurse brought in a small heater to warm up the tiny room. We thanked her warmly – considering we were shivering.

Forty-five minutes after I took off my suit, Doc Space opened the door. Doc picked up the space heater off the floor and threw it across the room into a wall. The interview went downhill from there. Definitely akin to kissing a frog.

Moral to the story: Sometimes, you have to laugh to keep from crying. Other times, it takes distance of time before things can be funny. The sooner you can laugh the better. Think of it as a harmless revenge.

Postblog: Of course I know there are good doctors, too. I often mention the “good GP”  and my great new rheumy doc. This is a true story about looking for a new doctor.

More typical posts than this:

Kelly Young

Kelly Young is an advocate providing ways for patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. Through her writing, speaking, and use of social media, she is building a more accurate awareness of Rheumatoid disease aka Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creating ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and bringing recognition and visibility to the Rheumatoid patient journey. In 2009, Kelly created Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior, a comprehensive website about RA of about 950 pages and writes periodically for other newsletters and websites. Kelly served on the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media Advisory Board. There are over 42,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook Fan page. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is the mother of five, a home-schooler, Bible teacher, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. You can also connect with Kelly by on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She has lived over nine years with unrelenting Rheumatoid disease. See also http://www.rawarrior.com/kelly-young-press/

17 thoughts on “Rheumatoid Arthritis Doctors’ Interviews

  • March 18, 2010 at 9:04 am
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    This made me laugh, Kelly … and I guess I should be happy that I can! I want you to know that distant relatives of Dr. Laptop are still alive and thriving. I met one just yesterday!

    I finally had my first appointment with the Rheumatologist I was referred to by my PCP. In preparation, I had neatly typed up a list of my symptoms, questions, limitations, etc. so that I would be thoroughly prepared for the visit.

    The nurse was very nice. She took down my allergies, vitals, and got me all checked in. Then when she noticed the sheet of paper I had brought along, she reached for it and asked, “is that your list of medications?” I said – “No, I’m not really on any medication for this yet.” At that point she became disinterested in what it was and left the room so I could wait with my Mom for the doctor to come in.

    When the doctor arrived, she introduced herself and shook my hand. That was the first, last and only time she made eye contact with me during the entire visit. The rest of the visit consisted of her typing the answers (and her opinions) to a pre-assembled list of questions she obviously used with every patient into a laptop computer on the opposite side of the room. If my answers were more lengthy than the usual ‘yes’ or ‘no’ she was looking for, I was quickly shut down by her speaking over the top of me to ask the next question.

    She did examine me … and every symptom was treated like a separate issue. Have you had your eyes checked or used eye drops for this? Have you ever tried arch supports or shoes with a higher heel for this? Do you exercise? I don’t SEE any inflamation here.

    In the end, she did order a multitude of tests … again… SIGH … MORE bloodwork, and a contrasting bone scan, since she could not ‘observe’ visible evidence that I feel the way I say I do. She did prescribe Mobic for daily use and I am supposed to see her the week after I get the tests run.

    All I could think as we were driving home was “Gee, I can’t wait to see HER again. This is certainly not someone I would want to have on my team, managing my health care on an ongoing basis. She had about as much compassion as a flea.” 🙁 I guess I was expecting someone who had a personality and cared what I was feeling. It was very disappointing to me.

    Reply
    • March 18, 2010 at 9:39 am
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      I’m sorry. That first appt with Dr. Laptop can be hard. I know you are looking for answers, KimbraLee. I’m sorry you could not get them yet. What will you do next?

      Reply
  • March 18, 2010 at 10:47 am
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    rheumatologists hv seen so many such patients so they hv become emotionless….
    imagine urself at their place…. i think we wud hve been doing so only…….
    😐

    Reply
    • March 18, 2010 at 4:31 pm
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      Racheal, it’s true that rheumatologists work hard in many cases and are paid less than other specialists. I now have a great doctor & I appreciate it all the more since I’ve seen some really bad ones.

      Reply
  • March 18, 2010 at 12:10 pm
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    Nearest Rheumy is 2 hrs away in bigger city. It is a group of 3-4, although I haven’t seen any of the others. Dr. is younger than me, as is nurse. It has taken me a couple years to warm up to them. It isn’t that I am undertreated. But when I go in, I am usually tried and in pain. Sitting in the chairs makes it worse. I don’t really like Dr.’s, so my stress is high.
    So, it has been a struggle for both of us. I recognised after a couple visits and lots of reading online, that Dr. was spending lots of time examining and noting and counting which joints were affected this time. Dr. works quietly doing this, and it hurts (I say so, and Dr. asks). Torture, but from reading, now I know why.
    Once Dr. palpated my swollen knee and off-handedly said, “I could inject that and it would feel better”. I burst into tears and Dr. was surprised. And literally backed off, commenting that s/he wouldn’t do anything that I didn’t want done. It took awhile for me to regain control, and Dr. gave me some less-invasive alternatives. I think Dr. was surprised by my reaction, but recovered and was able to work with me.
    In a later visit, I had to bring up that I couldn’t afford my medicines/all the treatments anymore. We have been able to work with that—can’t have the optimal, but telling me what is probably ok to postpone and understanding why I’m not doing everything (like PT).
    I still don’t like going to Drs, but I feel like this one is trying to work with me even though personality wise I think Dr. would like to be more business like and deal less with the emotional mess of chronic illness.

    BTW, I don’t like the term chronic illness. Usually when I hear the term in news reports it is associated with things they blame the patient for: obesity, smoking, not exercising. And RA doesn’t seem like “illness” or I’d rather it didn’t maybe. To me it is more like a state of being, a part of me like the part that likes chocolate and has freckles. It just is. ? But I am not “sick”!

    Reply
  • March 18, 2010 at 12:17 pm
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    Hi Kelly, spare a kind thought for us in Nairobi who have only one (1) rheumatologist for the whole city and country. Fortunately he’s is kind and salt of the earth (albeit overworked salt) sort of person.

    One has no choice but to put up with him.

    Wishing for more rheumys,
    Mumbi.

    Reply
    • March 18, 2010 at 4:29 pm
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      Mumbi, we do have a shortage. And they say within 3 years it will be much worse. But you do have it much harder. I hope the guy has a good attitude since he is the only game in town! Of course I send you my best thoughts so far away. Very glad to hear from you.

      Reply
  • March 18, 2010 at 3:32 pm
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    I’m not sure what it is about rheumys–I haven’t been able to figure it out. The only good one that I saw was years ago (even though he misdiagnosed me with lupus) but if you went to see him, you would literally be there the entire day.

    The current rheumy I have is strange mixture of good and bad. Good in the sense that she actually suspected some type of autoimmune problem and persisted in doing tests at intervals to find out what was wrong. Bad in the sense that waiting time averages 2 to 3 hours–she packs patients in tight! She is too rushed to be empathetic, explain what’s going on, medicines, and so on. She’s a “take this and I’ll see you in 2 months.” It also takes about a month–yes, a month–for her to return a call. I’m supposed to start methotrexate but I really don’t want to start a drug like that with the lack of communication and iffy call-backs to her office. It’s quite bad.

    One more thing that really burned me up about her–when I first went to her, she ran the usual autoimmune profile. She was convinced that I had lupus. When I returned for the follow-up, she comes in and I ask her did she have good news for me. She enthusiastically replied that she did indeed–my ANA, anti-DNA, and other tests were negative! Then she adds on a side note, “the only test that was positive was your anti-ccp.” And that is supposed to be good news?! All sorts of colorful metaphors strained to get out of my mouth (I wouldn’t do that but I was just that upset)–how is this supposed to be good news? You just basically told me that I have RA like it’s some sort of anecdote. I was supposed to be happy, I think–it was JUST RA, so fortune favored me.

    Sure. Right.

    I’m going to be going to another doctor in June.

    Reply
    • March 18, 2010 at 4:36 pm
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      Drae, I’ll be interested in hearing how that goes. There are not enough rheumatologists. No, a positive anti-CCP is not good news…

      The Doc Space Heater? I had to wait SIX months waiting list – to have the heater thrown. I was never examined. I was trembling and tearful when I realized I’d waited 6 months & put so much hope in this to be told “IF you ever did have RA, then it must be going into remission because your sed rate is normal.”

      Hopefully, I’d have more confidence if that ever happened again due to conversations like this one and realizing that others go through similar situations.

      Reply
  • March 18, 2010 at 9:30 pm
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    I wonder if the docs realize that the first or second appt. with them is akin to being told if you’re pregnant or not(of course, pregnancy news was always GOOD NEWS when I was told). My point is you’re so on edge, and what you could be told will change your life forever. It’s especially hard if you’ve been struggling to get some kind of diagnosis and are beginning to doubt yourself with your self-esteem tanking fast. I’m blessed to have “Dr. Knowledgable Big Brother” as my rheumy for quite awhile. He came after “Dr. Condescending ,Recommending a Psychiatrist”.

    Reply
  • March 18, 2010 at 10:39 pm
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    I have been seeing Dr. Waffling for the last few years. She alternates between you have RA or maybe you don’t, yes you do, maybe you don’t. It has been very frustrating. I went to a new Rheumy one week ago. She promised to call me this Monday with the results of my blood work and xray’s. I am still waiting on her to call me back.

    Reply
  • March 21, 2010 at 3:36 pm
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    That is terrible! I have had so many uncaring, terrible doctors in the past. I finally found one that is amazing! It turns out she is a pediatric rheumatologist (I’m 21, so not really a peds patient), but since I was treated so terribly by the other docs in her department, she took my case. She talks to me like I’m an actual human being and never suggests that it is “all in my head”. She will stay with me and answer my questions for as long as I need her to and she even personally returns calls and emails.
    I hope you can find a better doc soon!

    Reply
    • March 21, 2010 at 4:00 pm
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      Hi Heather,
      I wasn’t sure whether you were replying to me or Jamie. As for me, I have a good rheum. dr. now – see the note & link in the Postblog under the post. It was such a relief after experiences like the one in this post.

      You say you’ve met many terrible doctors too. Why do you think there are so many? I have 5 children – the oldest is your age – so I’ve had opportunity to meet many, many docs. My kids have been misdiagnosed many times because the docs would not listen even with hearing aids for the 2 who are deaf. Read here.

      Reply
  • May 15, 2010 at 8:08 pm
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    Kelly, I’m laughing about Doc Space Heater so hard it hurts!
    Thank you, I needed that!

    Reply
    • May 15, 2010 at 8:41 pm
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      THANK YOU, CONNIE!! Me too. It is sweeter revenge than hating him/her.

      Reply
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  • April 25, 2017 at 2:25 pm
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    I thought I would tell my unbelievable Dr story even though it’s not a Rhumy story, but I went to a psychiatrist today for my depression.
    I told him about my RA and he proceeded to tell me that because I became ill in my early 40’s that it was probably due to low estrogen and not RA at all.
    Hahaha, I have to laugh or I’ll scream. ??

    Reply

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