Things Don't Always Work Out The First Time

One of the biggest hurdles in "regular" life for me is finding doctors, dentists, etc. I won't see male doctors if there is anything I can do about it. The exception for that is my orthodontist. But I digress, his hands only touch my mouth so there is no fear with him. As for everyone else who has a hand in treating me that has to touch me anywhere else, they are all female. But even with that statement, there is much more to the decision process for me than just being female. I go through a painstaking process of reviewing the state medical board information to find only people of certain races and ages. (I have an irrational fear of Indian doctors which I think stems from some less than stellar run ins as a child involving their bedside manner) I then search online to see if I can find their medical website and a picture. I have rarely walked into an office blind, and the couple times I did, were disastrous. There is so much (irrational) fear associated with that that if I can't find a picture, I don't even consider them. I have spent most of my post-abused life learning to read people for dangerous signs, personality traits, actions, etc. A picture for me is a way to offer myself that opportunity to read that doctor.

From there I take the next step to check insurance, maybe see if I can find someone who uses the same doctor and can give me a good/bad report and take the plunge. This process has worked wonders for me in building trust with my doctors. That being said, the process puts me at a disadvantage. I have been lucky with my family doctor and my surgeon. Those fields are highly saturated with men which leaves me with a small percentage that will fully meet my criteria. Thankfully, it worked out in my favor.

Recently I have been grappling with this process, as my next step that God has put in front of me is to start seeing a psychiatrist. Something I tried once (and went in blind, having seen no picture, found no info) with a horrible outcome. I left feeling more minimized and vulnerable than when I had come in. I never went back and swore off the idea of ever going to anyone again.

But as I wrote in my previous post, my answer to a prayer to God came to me one morning. My psychiatrist that I saw when I was a teenager, I think 13-16ish. I had completely forgotten about her. I really liked her and was very comfortable talking with her. She actually listened to me. I looked her up and was ecstatic to see she was still in practice, although very far away. At that point, I'd drive however long to go to someone who already knew my history and was someone I could trust. Not only that, I checked with my insurance company and she was in network! Hallelujah! I called the number and left a message with her manager. I felt really good about this. Like I had heard God and done what he called upon me to do.

I was crushed when I got a call back and started trying to set up an appointment. There was a mistake with the insurance company and they had left her name on the list accidentally. She had terminated her contract with them when she downsized her practice and moved. She still saw patients, but on a much smaller basis as she was also currently the medical director for an in-patient/out-patient treatment center. I could see her, but it was going to cost me $300 for the first consultation and $225 each time after that. That was just too much for me to get on board with.

All of this happened Friday morning and I sat in my office so confused. Why would God give me this answer then put this roadblock up almost immediately? My first instinct was to quit, forget it. It's too hard. But something in me felt as though this really was what I needed. I accessed my insurance information and got a list of providers. I was willing to drive just about anywhere in the area if I could find someone who fit my parameters. 166 is the number I started with. 130 were male. 20 of the 36 females were Indian. 7 of the 16 females were over the age of 60. That left me with 9 prospects.

I did my homework and for various reasons (only pediatric or geriatric psychiatry, working only in hospital wards, etc) I was down to 2 people. It wasn't looking good. I typed in the first name, got almost no extra information, no website or a picture. The drive was a good hour, hour and 20 minutes (without traffic) from my city, too. Feeling as though my search was futile and a waste of time, I typed in the last name left.

I was definitely surprised when I found that she had a website (apparently it's not a common practice among psychiatrists). I browsed it, reading about her background, her practice, what she treats, etc. No picture there, but some very thorough Google searching and I was able to find a page on the children's hospital site that had her picture and matched her credentials listed on her website. The smiling face met mine with instant approval. You can just tell with some people. They're kind. They're compassionate. She met my standards 100%.

I put a call into her office (which is still a good 45 minute/hour drive from me) and left a message, hoping beyond all hopes that the secretary would call me back before the end of the work day. By then it was already 1:30 PM and with it being Friday I did not want to have to wait all weekend for more information.

Imagine my surprise when I got a call from her office, picked up the phone and it was actually her, not office staff. I almost didn't know what to say. I've never had a doctor actually call me on the phone. We talked for almost 10 minutes, me giving her the basic reason why I am coming in, her explaining her methods of treatment, fees, etc. Her cheery voice definitely put to rest any fears that I still had about the process. I hung up the phone and gave a little chuckle. Quite the test of strength and will God has put in front of me. I really do believe that this is going to be a good thing. That this is going to help me continue down the road I want to be on. That it is going to help me to heal. And not only that, I think I'm actually going to be strong enough this time to do what I wasn't able to do before.


Grace said...
July 18, 2010 at 1:07 AM

Good for you, Lily, for not giving up and for doing the research you needed to do to make youreslf feel comfortable. I understand the doctor fear, believe me. Drs in general...but male doctors, in particular. I agree that w/a lot of the MHPs there's not a lot out out that on the web. I will be waiting to hear how this plays out.
Stay strong, my dear!

Paula said...
July 18, 2010 at 1:16 AM

Dear One, I am exhausted to read the progress you feel necessary to go through to find a doctor!!!! However if you feel you have traveled far enough to finally be able to do what is neceassray - I will be there to cheer you on, hold out my hand for you to grap and offer a shoulder for leaning on to. I remmeber the moment where I felt I finally was able to do what was necessary... I was alone, had no blog...couldnt share. Happy you can and did. Love to you

Ethereal Highway said...
July 18, 2010 at 2:36 AM

Though I don't do psychiatrists anymore, I go through an almost identical process when looking for a doctor or dentist, only I generally avoid the females instead of the males. You know what else? It was kind of refreshing to me to see you admit to using national origin to wade through the doctor list. I totally understand this. I do it, too, because I worry about language problems and certain cultural differences and I really do not want to be treated by any doctor who is not an American and/or educated in the U.S. unless there are very special circumstances, like knowing the doctor personally or having glowing recommendations. Sometimes I make exceptions for certain Europeans (male, mostly youngish or middle-aged specialists with acceptable credentials - not too many old dudes). Basically though, I avoid doctors for myself unless I really, really need one or have waited too long for a full check-up. I've had the same gyno for twelve years. He is one of the national origin exceptions (Latin origin with a slight accent), but he went to school in Michigan and came highly recommended, he's nice, very bright and very articulate, so I prefer him now as I understand him and know what to expect. I totally understand the doctor thing and I wish you the best. Be careful with psychiatry, though. Make sure you research things for yourself instead of just being someone's experiment. Don't let your health be destroyed. The ultimate burden is on the consumer. I figure as long as we can remember that, we'll be alright. Sounds to me like you get that or you wouldn't be so picky about choosing a doctor.

Anonymous said...
July 18, 2010 at 5:31 AM

Hi, Lily -

I'm proud of you for pushing through the fear . . . trust in your own knowing of what is best for you . . . God gave you that still, small voice (it's the calm voice you hear/feel, not the fearful ones) . . . you can trust it . . . follow it despite the obsticles that seem to appear.

- Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

Anonymous said...
July 18, 2010 at 5:31 AM

Hi, Lily -

I'm proud of you for pushing through the fear . . . trust in your own knowing of what is best for you . . . God gave you that still, small voice (it's the calm voice you hear/feel, not the fearful ones) . . . you can trust it . . . follow it despite the obsticles that seem to appear.

- Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

Harriet said...
July 18, 2010 at 7:54 AM

Good for you for having the strength and perserverence to find someone suitable for you. It is such a long frustrating process, even for someone like me who is somewhat flexible. It sounds like this pdoc is just the right match for you!

Anonymous said...
July 18, 2010 at 1:57 PM

Hi Lily,
So glad you found someone you feel comfortable with.


Just Be Real said...
July 18, 2010 at 2:08 PM

Here with you Lily and supporting you dear one. ((((Lily))))

Anonymous said...
July 19, 2010 at 8:57 PM

I'm glad that you have found someone that you feel okay with! I think that the hardest part is often just picking up that phone and saying what you need! I hope that the appointment goes well for you and that what she does for you helps you to heal.

Anonymous said...
July 21, 2010 at 10:14 AM

I would just like to say that I think you are taking an amazing step! :)