Friday, March 12, 2010

Our new doctor

We met with a new doctor yesterday after many months of being in limbo without a clear idea who our PCP (primary care physician) was, after our previous doctor left and the health center reorganized with a focus on integrative medicine and a reluctance to take on our care after bariatric surgery. (This was probably just an excuse to shed a few patients since they're overwhelmed; they have fewer doctors now and they can't keep the same number of patients.)

We went into the appointment on the assumption that we were interviewing her to decide if we wanted to switch over to her -- even though things are tight, we still don't intend to just jump on the first doctor who has an opening -- while she was interviewing us to see if she thought she could give us the care we need. But before we were there too long it seemed clear to me that it was a good match.

She has an attitude towards "alternative medicine" which I think is spot on: suspicion but not complete refutation. What I would say about it is, everything used to be alternative medicine once, but over time, the stuff that worked got gradually understood and became just "medicine." We probably haven't finished that process: there are no doubt still discoveries to be made. But at the same time, everything that hasn't made the move from folk remedy and superstition to scientific medicine has had a lot of chances to do so over the last few thousand years, so while some of it has something to it we haven't identified yet, more of it is bunkum. The proper attitude is to be neither credulous nor closed-minded but simply skeptical.

She showed a clear interest in the value of scientific study, along with a healthy does of skepticism about those very studies -- an amount which almost bordered on worrisome, since she clearly has an axe to grind about the pharmaceutical companies and how they control (by funding it) so much of medical research. There's even a sign saying that pharma reps are not welcome due to the distortion of medical research by the pharm companies outside her door. But it seems plain she has good reason for these doubts, and she doesn't throw the baby out with the bathwater: she's not opposed to medicinal treatment, just suspicious of when it's being overused, and that's perfectly reasonable.

She also is familiar with bariatric medicine, though not with the particulars of the MGB, but enough to seem entirely comfortable with doing the follow-ups that our doctor in North Carolina demands. In fact, it hardly even seemed like a question.

We're scheduled for a complete annual physical in May, and Cigna already switched us over to the new doctor, so I guess now we just have to tell our old doctors to send over the files. That was a lot more painless than I expected.

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