Recently, I had an eye infection that had lasted a week and had to go see my ophthalmologist. My regular doctor was on vacation so I saw his partner. That was my first mistake. I’m in my 60’s and am running into things I didn’t expect until I reached my 80’s or 90’s. Whenever I go to any doctor, anything he doesn’t think deserves any worry he just says that it’s due to age. Oh, really, it’s okay that my left eye doesn’t focus? It must be second opinion time. What this eye guy doesn’t know is that I have seen firsthand how doctors don’t pay any attention to an older population.
My husband’s grandmother lived with us a while she was in her 90s. After we moved away from her home area, I took her to an excellent doctor who told me, in an aside, that one of her medications was an addictive drug and we had to decide whether or not to take her off it. After some discussion, we figured out that at this point in her life maybe we should just leave things alone. Her previous doctors had obviously found it easy to drug her and move on to the next patient.
I am trying to avoid that type of medical care. Doctors used to know you and your whole family and care about your health; now, seeing a doctor is like being on one of those airport walkways. You get on and it moves you along with a predetermined time allotment to see the nurse, the doctor, the checkout desk. What’s really bad is that I’m not in an HMO now.
Our family did that once with Kaiser. I hated it even before I started using it. My husband had to use treachery to get me to go there. The doctors studied your folder on the way from seeing the last patient and gave you your alloted 15 minutes to take care of all your ills. That included the time needed to write the prescription. I have never felt so much like one of the herd as I did then. While you had to admire the efficiency of the system, it was totally impersonal and uncaring. Thank goodness we didn’t have any serious illnesses while we were with that HMO.
I have had good doctors. My children’s first pediatrician was really good as was my second OBGYN. When my husband and I had cancer, we had first class oncologists. So, I know what a good doctor is. What’s tricky is finding the good ones. Often, it is a matter of luck. Right now, my internist is part of a group that runs itself as if it were an HMO. If we weren’t moving when the house sells, I would find another doctor.
So, my question is this. If, at this age, I can’t trust the doctors to give me good care, how bad is it going to get in the future? Like most things in life, it is far better to take care of yourself than to depend on others to provide that care. Maintaining your independence is your most valuable asset.