Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Getting to Know Your Primary Care Provider

About two years ago, I was forced to find a new primary care provider (PCP) because my women's health provider no longer wanted to take on this responsibility.  To be honest, I didn't blame her, but I simply did not like the PCP that I had chosen when I first moved to Texas.  I just hated the idea that it was going to take forever to find one who would really listen to me rather than ignore me.  You can say, she pushed me out of the bird's nest, and I'm glad she did.

The biggest reason why I stopped seeing my PCP is because when I met him for the first time, my current allergy medication was not an over-the-counter drug.  I explained to him that while in Michigan, I went to see an allergist, and these were the three prescriptions the allergist gave me, even though I really only needed the allergy pill and eye drops, and not the nasal spray.  Instead of listening to me, he wrote me a script for an allergy medication that was in the highest tiered co-pay (I think it was $70 at the time).  This turned me off so much, that I never went back, with the exception of the time that I needed a vaccine.  Thankfully, my allergy medication of choice soon became an OTC after this episode, so I just paid out-of-pocket for it.  This was about $20 per month, rather than $70 per month!  The other issue at hand was that my labs were showing that my thyroid was not functioning correctly, and that I might have hypothyroidism.  This actually became a battle between my women's health provider and my PCP at the time, should I or should I not be medicated?  This is when my women's health provider became like a PCP to me for a period of time, before she asked me to find a new one.

After chatting with some friends, I was referred to a fantastic physician in a father/son practice who specialized in integrative medicine.  He thinks like I do - prevention over treatment.  The number of resources on their website is incredible, and the fact that he incorporates holistic medicine into his practice means he's open minded.  I feel like a team member rather than a patient.  I actually never thought I'd have this feeling with an MD, which is why I always looked for a DO.  (My original PCP in Texas an MD as well.)  I do not fear talking with my new PCP.  I'm grateful that I found a provider that complements me.

The reason why I am writing this blog is because I want you to be an advocate for your health.  If you choose to supplement like I have, insist on being heard so that your PCP has all the information that he or she needs to keep you safe (especially as it relates to possible medication/supplement interactions).  In 2002, 18.9% of adults in the U.S. used natural herbs or supplements in the past year, but only one-third told their provider about it (Kennedy, Wang, & Wu, 2008).  We should not fear our PCPs.  In the end, we have the final say on whether or not we take their advice.  They are the experts in their field in which we should seek their advice, not expect them to to fix our health problems.  We need to be a part of the solution.  I consistently use the word "provider" rather than physician because your primary care provider does not have to be a physician (truly depends on your insurance company).  I encourage you to have an open dialogue about your health with the provider that you choose.

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