Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Parkinson's Patient Changes Doctors

I have switched to a new health plan as of the first of the year and I'm in the process of getting new doctors. I'd been hoping that I could find doctors from University Hospital which my Kaiser plan didn't allow but the Aetna plan does.

Ten days ago I had my first appointment with a University Hospital internist. As a Parkinson's patient it can be difficult to change doctors. Is he/she going to be traditional (sinemet) or alternative (CoQ10). This is my life and I want my doctor to see me and not a disease. I need to be proactive the the medical decisions made about my life.

On the phone, I had let the receptionist know that we were looking for a doctor with an open mind to possibilities. She advised me that while the doctor was not a Parkinson's specialist, he sounded like the person I needed.

As she suggested, I requested my medical records immediately so that I could carry them with me to the appointment although I should probably have dropped them off a day early.

She also advised me that Kaiser could take a while getting the records ready. The form actually had spaces for "pickup" and my phone number except the RUSH, added by a kindly intake woman at Kaiser. Days went by and no one called as we were told, instead Kaiser sent a letter telling me what I owed for the records. I received that letter on the day we drove over to pay for and pickup the package.

When I went to the appointment I was hoping not to hear any of the wrong words but I was prepared to keep on shopping if I needed too. We had made a list.

He began the appointment by greeting me and saying, "I understand meeting a new doctor can be stressful". That put me at ease as he looked through my medical records and asked me questions about what he saw.

My biggest concern was that I would not be able to find a doctor who would okay my prescription for DyaCirc which I am taking off label for my Parkinson's. That turned out to be no problem as he understood it could be used for PD.

He gave me the name of a movement disorder specialist (MDS) at the medical school with whom to make additional appointments, since I had never seen one under my Kaiser health plan. While I had seen a neurologist, she was not a movement disorder specialist. He also sent me to a dermatologist for head lesions that I've had for several years and so far always biopsy as benign.

He also encouraged me to see if switching from DynaCirc to its generic, Isradipine, would work for me. If isradipine helps me and I can tolerate it, the savings will be close to $1,800 a year.

One other good sign: I had printed out the information I had about Dynacirc CR and when I presented it, he asked if he could keep those copies for review with his students.

My impression of him: warm and friendly, easy to talk to. And willing to learn new things. He's going to be my doctor!

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