primary care doctor

“A Guy Walks into the Doctor’s Office and ….”

Sounds like the beginning of joke, doesn’t it? It’s supposed to = because that is exactly how I felt when I got my diagnosis, like someone was pulling my leg, or at least confused or wrong. But let me back up a little and share how I got “the news” and a little back-story for context.

I met my family doctor, I’ll call her Dr L, about 15 years or so ago; she was my mother in law’s doctor and I took her to some of her appointments. I was impressed with her: she was kind, gentle, knowledgeable, and had a good sense of humor. Up until I was almost 40 I used my neurosurgeon as my primary care doctor. When my wife’s insurance company made a change that required me to get a physical and some blood work I realized I needed a primary care physician – a family doctor. Who better, I thought, than Dr. L? She was great, I’ll start off by saying, from day one. I found out that I had high cholesterol and triglycerides (but everything else was good) so taking my limited ability to exercise and family history of heart attack into account she got right on getting those things under control; in six months, with slight diet modifications and medication, all of my blood work was good. And it stayed that way for years, and her care for me was always top-notch in other ares that I needed a doctor, referral, medical advice, etc. for until about 18 or so months ago.

Dr. L and her husband were going through a nasty divorce, which started about two years ago. I don’t know all the details, and I don’t care to, but I know it ended badly with custody fights and eventually her selling her private practice and going in with a “group”; I now know her home was also foreclosed on, a sad thing for anyone to go through, with or without a divorce.

During my last three visits to her I noticed a difference: she wasn’t as bubbly as normal, was a bit cold, and somewhat distant. I figured she was having some depression issues with all she was dealing with; changes of large magnitude are hard on all of us. I hoped she would soon “snap out of it” and prayed for her.

A few weeks ago I got a call from Dr. L’s office to confirm an upcoming appointment – except they didn’t say it was Dr. L’s office calling but another name, one I didn’t know. The receptionist, who I’ve known for five or six years, told me Dr. L had left that office and was transferred to an urgent care facility that the “group” also owned. I was saddened to hear this but figured it was probably a change she needed to make to move on with her life; I confirmed I’d come in to see the new lady (my new “family doctor” is actually a Family Nurse Practitioner).

A couple of days later I found myself sitting in a familiar exam room with an unfamiliar face, thinking “How much does she know already about my medical history and what am I going to have to go over again with this new lady?” when she asked me who was taking care of my diabetes; I’m going to have to go over everything with her was what I was now thinking. I chuckled a little and replied “No, one; I don’t have diabetes.” Her right eyebrow raised inquisitively as her eyes darted down to my chart and back up at me; I knew then something was very wrong.

She went on to ask if I had been given the results of my recent blood work, the most recent were about 16 and 10 months old, respectively. I told her no, I’d heard nothing; both of my last few labs were ordered and performed after my regular visits and Dr. L always called if any concerns came up and I’d gotten no calls. As she started to explain that my sugar and A1C were both abnormal my head began to spin. First, I didn’t even know what an A1C was, and second this all had to me a false reading/mistake I began to tell her. She gently replied that we could do a quick test to see, if that was okay with me; I was all for that! I wanted to get this put to bed and now.

The minutes went by very slowly waiting to get that test back; the less than-10 minute test seemed to take hours. But Jamie, the new “doc”, and I spoke about other things, medically related to me, while we waited, though I could barely focus on them. The nurse, whom I dearly love, came in and gave Jamie the results, which she read and compared to my previous tests. After a minute or so she told me (sincerely) she was sorry no one had followed up on my labs and then began to explain to me what my results showed: my first test, 16-18 months ago, was 6+, a definite danger/concern number, my last test was 7+ (I can’t recall either decimal on these readings), a diabetic reading, and today was 14.3, literally off the chart she later showed me. Angry, dumbfounded, confused, helpless, and scared are a few of the things I felt at that moment; I was also still in denial. New fasting blood work was ordered for the next day and a follow-up appointment was set for the next week. She gave me very little info, not wanting me to be overwhelmed (too stinking late for that!) and told me that she would go over everything at my follow-up, which she did as I’ll write more about later. She tried her level best to set me at ease, saying there would likely be some changes I’d need to make but nothing too drastic. And that she was almost certain that I’d not need shots, though I would have to do blood glucose (BG) testing.

As we parted ways that day she made some very tasteful, and very helpful and comforting, jokes, revealing her sense of humor and personality a bit to me; I needed that more than I can say, and I think she knew it. And so I left the office with a million and one thoughts, concerns and questions but one that loomed larger than an other: This has to be a mistake, and the new labs will prove that. Later I’ll write more but let us close with this: The new labs confirmed a lot, but nothing that my delusion of denial had me hoping for.