Building a Healthcare Team
Since deciding that our family of four was the maximum number of people to be in our family (read: no more babies), I’ve been working to transition as much of my healthcare team from Boston to Rhode Island. After almost 30 years at the Joslin Clinic, this has been a tough transition, because I’m so used to their style and routine.
As in, of course you sit in traffic for two hours before the appointment. Of course the endocrinologist is forced to schedule three patients, all for 1 pm appointments, making everyone late and frustrated. Of course lab work results get lost. Of course it’s all-day project for a disease I don’t like.
… of course I needed to make changes to improve convenience and access and reduce overall rage. Quit complaining and make changes to improve the mess, right? Right.
Over the last year, I’ve been testing out different doctors for primary care, OB/GYN, eyeball needs, and endocrinology.
- Primary care has been a bust as the clinician I initially chose wasn’t a good fit at all. (She wasn’t comfortable talking about anything related to diabetes, and I need to have a doctor who at least acknowledges that my pancreas is shit.) But I have another option scheduled for January so hopefully that doctor will be a better partner in my care. I’ve always wanted my PCP to be the center of my healthcare team, but so far, that’s been a no go.
- I have always had a local OB/GYN but needed care in Boston for both pregnancies, so my OB/GYN team here in Rhode Island has historically handled everything but my babies. Now that I’m firmly in the no more kids camp, I’m back to the team I’ve used since college. All the clinicians in their practice are a good fit, so that’s all set. They’re terrific.
- My dentist is awesome. I’ve written about dental crap a bunch of times here, mostly because I have very sensitive teeth and am a HUGE baby when it comes to dental visits, but the right team and their compassionate expertise has made my visits to their office comfortable. Dare I say FUN? (No. Not yet. Maybe if they design cool grills?)
- For eyeball needs, I’ve been going to the Beetham Eye Institute at Joslin. I trust their expertise without question (despite having the diagnosis of a complicated eyeball told to the computer screen instead of to my face, but I’m not as angry about that anymore). Oddly enough, though, my eye complications improved to “minimal” during my last pregnancy, taking me off the “every three months” list at Beetham and reducing me to yearly. That, coupled with some recent corneal abrasions, drove me to find local eyeball care. I am really grateful that I’ve secured a doctor who makes me feel comfortable that he’ll detect any issues and will refer me out to another specialist if he feels my complications are beyond his ability to manage. THAT is the mark of an incredible clinician – taking good care of patients while simultaneously acknowledging their own human limitations. This doc is a keeper.
- And my endo has always been the core of my healthcare team. At Joslin, I’ve worked my way through their slate of endos since my diagnosis back in 1986 – starting in peds, working my way into the adult clinic, moonlighting over at the pregnancy clinic a few times, and then returning to adult care. The need to move my care hyper-local brought me to an endo in Rhode Island who, aside from being a shorter drive, totally gets it. While we’re still in the weird “getting to know you” phase of patient/clinician interactions, I trust this endo because he has many years of expertise in type 1 diabetes and also because he views my opinions and goals as important as his own for me. This is the kind of teamwork I enjoyed at Joslin, only minus the insane commute. At my appointment yesterday, I had a good experience with the reception/labwork staff (more on why that matters later), my appointment started on schedule (11.30 am, not noon or noon-thirty), and my endo ran through my list of questions without dismissing them. After a few more visits with this endo, I’ll consider myself officially weaned from Joslin.
Switching clinicians is stressful, for me, and I don’t enjoy all of these mystery dates. But I’m getting close to a team that I feel can handle all the moving parts of my health AND they’re all within a 25 minute drive, and that feels pretty freaking good.