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!
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.