When Choosing My Medical Team, It’s All About Attitude

When Choosing My Medical Team, It’s All About Attitude

In my last column, I promised to share my experience with a new cardiologist, as well as his ideas about the likely cause of my heart issues.

I had been trying to find out why my heart goes into tachycardia, particularly when I attempt to do anything physical like making the bed or emptying the dishwasher. My general practitioner suggested I seek a second opinion.

The probable answer is a form of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. I will explain more about this as the diagnosis becomes clearer and the specifics unfold. I’ve been struggling with this issue for a number of years, and the jury is still out as to the particular variety. It is likely associated with pooling of blood in my lower limbs, possibly caused by damage to my autonomic nervous system from my scleroderma.

It is complicated, and I need to see more specialists to get a better picture. However, I have discovered that although I thought it was a clear diagnosis I was desperately seeking, I was really looking for something else when I agreed to seek a second opinion.  

I was searching for someone who would take my symptoms seriously, without implying that anxiety was the cause. It wasn’t as important to me in terms of what he found, but rather that he was invested enough in me as a patient to search for an answer. At the end of the day, a diagnosis cannot be made if a doctor doesn’t believe in me enough to bother investigating.

I have thought back to my gut feeling when I met my cardiologist for the first time. I immediately felt he was meeting me with an open mind and a genuine concern and curiosity about my symptoms. Instead of acting like an expert, he appeared open to a collaborative approach that put me at ease.

This particular doctor is just beginning his practice and is not well known in medical circles. Sometimes, I have stuck with a specialist based on reputation rather my own gut feeling during a consultation. I don’t think I will make that mistake again.

While it is good to hear about others’ experiences with a specialist and to consider training and reputation, I believe a doctor’s attitude is essential. 

From now on, an invitation to join my medical team ultimately will be decided by my instinct and a doctor’s attitude. This scleroderma warrior is learning to trust herself a little better, and to ensure she gets the proper care she needs!

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Note: Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to scleroderma.

I’m 49 and live in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was diagnosed with Limited Systemic Scleroderma in 2013, and the disease has slowly progressed over the past three years. Prior to my diagnosis, I worked as a Counsellor/Therapist in private practice, however I was forced to close my practice in 2014 because the fatigue associated with the disease had become profound. Well before I studied, trained and worked as a Counsellor many years ago (at least 20) I was employed as a Dental Assistant. It is my belief that whilst working in this capacity I handled a number of chemicals that are now considered dangerous and this exposure may have been the trigger for my disease, together with an already existing genetic component. These days, my full time job is to work hard at my self-care and manage my symptoms as best I can. Part of this management is to reflect on and write about my experiences about living with Scleroderma in ordinary day to day life. This helps me a great deal, and I hope it helps my readers, both those who also suffer with Scleroderma, and to help raise awareness in those who do not. I enjoy adding a little humour to my writing, because honestly, I feel it’s important we all have a wee laugh from time to time. However, my writing usually includes a serious reflection of some sort. On a personal note, I am the wife of one, and the Mother of three boys. My husband Max is my main caregiver, and I am very fortunate to have such a loving and giving spouse. My children are aged 21, 19 and 13, and our two oldest boys live in different parts of New Zealand to study and work. Our youngest will be starting High School in 2017. We live with a menagerie of animals, including two dogs and four cats.
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I’m 49 and live in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was diagnosed with Limited Systemic Scleroderma in 2013, and the disease has slowly progressed over the past three years. Prior to my diagnosis, I worked as a Counsellor/Therapist in private practice, however I was forced to close my practice in 2014 because the fatigue associated with the disease had become profound. Well before I studied, trained and worked as a Counsellor many years ago (at least 20) I was employed as a Dental Assistant. It is my belief that whilst working in this capacity I handled a number of chemicals that are now considered dangerous and this exposure may have been the trigger for my disease, together with an already existing genetic component. These days, my full time job is to work hard at my self-care and manage my symptoms as best I can. Part of this management is to reflect on and write about my experiences about living with Scleroderma in ordinary day to day life. This helps me a great deal, and I hope it helps my readers, both those who also suffer with Scleroderma, and to help raise awareness in those who do not. I enjoy adding a little humour to my writing, because honestly, I feel it’s important we all have a wee laugh from time to time. However, my writing usually includes a serious reflection of some sort. On a personal note, I am the wife of one, and the Mother of three boys. My husband Max is my main caregiver, and I am very fortunate to have such a loving and giving spouse. My children are aged 21, 19 and 13, and our two oldest boys live in different parts of New Zealand to study and work. Our youngest will be starting High School in 2017. We live with a menagerie of animals, including two dogs and four cats.

5 comments

    • Kim Tocker says:

      Such an encouraging lovely comment Vickie, thank you so much. It is so nice to know that my ramblings are actually giving enjoyment, and helps me to be disciplined to keep writing, even if I’m having a bad day – thank you also for taking the time to comment :).

  1. Kiwi says:

    I have just discovered your writing, I may have just read them all from start to current.
    Thank you, as Vickie has said, for taking the time to write, it is very informative. I too live in Chch and just discovering the world of Systemic Scleroderma, limited.

    • Kim Tocker says:

      Thankyou so much for your comments, it’s just so nice to receive encouraging feedback. There is a support group that runs in Christchurch every month whereby a group of ladies meet together for coffee and a chat, and there is also a small scleroderma conference with some speakers lined up for November this year to be held at Burwood hospital – I’m often too unwell to attend the group however intend to get to the conference. Dianne is the president of Scleroderma New Zealand and if you contact her she will be very helpful in terms of support and contacts. [email protected].
      Thanks again Jessica x

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