Three months is a long time to wait to see a doctor. But taking advantage of the wait can ultimately get you what you need.
Alyse got a bug bite out in the woods and got worried. What if it was a tick? So she tried to see a rheumatologist that she’d heard was very good, but the wait was three months! Alyse tells us about how she went about taking advantage of the wait.
by alyse poteshman
During the spring through fall months, I go to a cabin we have in the woods. One day my husband and I were kayaking when I got bit twice on my back. Since my husband was right there, he saw it happen and said they were black flies. The pain was worse than a bee sting for a few days. Four days later, I woke up and my hands were so swollen I could not move them. I knew I immediately needed a rheumatologist.
I quickly called the doctor that I thought had the best reputation only to hear that it was three months to see her. Next, I called another popular doctor that gave me an appointment in two months. As I went further down the list, I was getting into each doctor sooner and sooner. Finally, I spoke to a receptionist that said the doctor had an opening that day. I went and I am pretty sure he had just gotten out of medical school the week prior, but I needed blood work and I needed a doctor to order it. He took many vials of blood from me and gave me steroids and a pain killer. He did his job.
I kept all of the appointments I had made while I’d been searching for a rheumatologist, and one by one I went to each of them. Each time I went, I had more blood test results, x-rays of my hands, and more information to give to the doctor, all lined up in order. By the time 3 months went by and I got to the doctor of my choice, I had done testing, tried medications and had a portfolio of my illness all ready for her. She was impressed and said how much easier it was for her with test results in front of her.
I got to my doctor of choice eventually, but I did not wait at home, scared and in pain until the appointment finally came. Being proactive led me to have a better healthcare experience.
In the end, I got both the quick care and the deeper care I needed. There was nothing convenient about keeping multiple appointments, but by taking advantage of the wait, I ended up with a better healthcare experience.
Alyse Poteshman is a multiple endocrine neoplasia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia survivor. She’s been through a lot but it hasn’t stopped her from getting two Master’s degrees (one in learning disabilities and one in educational administration) and having a robust career in education. Alyse is in her late 50s now, has three daughters, one grandson, and after all she’s been through, tells people she is learning how to live with “Alyse 2.0”. She is living proof that you have to fight to get what you need in healthcare.
A very common barrier to getting access to the care you need when you need it is the length of time it takes to see a specialist. They’re not all 3-months away like in Alyse’s case here, but some are. Some are longer! Using the time in between to be ready for that appointment is wise. But how do you do it?
Like Alyse pointed out, you need a doctor to write you prescriptions and order tests, so why not ask your primary care doctor. They are usually someone you can see pretty quickly. They can reach out to a specialist and tell you what tests you are going to need. Bringing your complex case to a specialist pleases your primary. Saving time will please the specialist. Happy doctors make happy patients.
Next time you have a distant appointment, see what your primary can do to make good use of the time. They may even be able to get it moved up for you. This way, when you sit down with the specialist you can have a better healthcare experience. It’s better than having to go for tests and wait another 3 months to review with the doctor.