Doctors, Nurses, Diagnoses… oh MY!

So I told you a few weeks back about how I got e. coli.

And now I’m not so sure.

Let’s back up a bit.  Seriously ya’ll.  How do you choose your doctor?  Any kind of doctor.  HOW???

My dad has worked in healthcare (not as any sort of doctor, but still in healthcare) for 25 years and I have many MANY friends who are currently in schooling for or on the cusp of their medical careers as MDs, physical therapists, etc. AND I know TONS of nurses.  I would trust all these people with medical advice, diagnosis, etc over some of the things I’ve been told by the people I’ve encountered in the field as of late.   And I don’t intend to disrespect the medical field in general because they have one of the hardest jobs ever. And of course they’re going to make the occasional mistake, they can’t be God and often times we ask them to be, expecting them to be able to see into the future, generally have x-ray vision, and be utterly sinless with an unending amount of knowledge spewing from their lips.  This is not fair.

But you guys. I’ve been encountering a lot of mistakes in my interactions with the medical field as of late.  Let’s recap.  (Warning… some of this stuff is kind of personal, but whatever I’d tell you anyway… don’t worry no gory details).

1) We go to Mexico.  Somehow we get sick (I think the best way to describe it without getting specific… we needed no laxatives of any kind). The Guns gets better in a week.  I go up and down but finally decide that obviously I’m not going to kill this thing on my own, so I go to a clinic.

2) A nurse practitioner sees me and is very attentive.  She has bloodwork done and sends me home with a stool culture kit (Taking a stool sample should be on your “opposite of bucket list” list.  Avoid at all costs) and prescribes me 2 antibiotics.  She tells me to come back tomorrow just to be safe.

3) I return to the clinic the next day, but see a doctor today instead of the NP I saw previously.  As it has been just 24 hours since I’ve been there and less than a day since starting on the antibiotic I’m not feeling much better.  The Dr. is less than attentive and seems quite rushed (kind of acted like a kid who got taken away from his video game, actually).  Doesn’t seem to know what to tell me, but puts pressure on my stomach saying “but that doesn’t hurt does it?”  “yes, on the right side” “Oh, well, that’s where your appendix is.  You don’t want that to burst, you could die.” “ok, well… what should I do?” “If you’re still feeling the pain there tomorrow morning come in right away.  Ok, have a good day” and he’s gone.  I spend the next 24 hours hyper aware of my appendix area, trying to self-diagnose on WebMD, and fluctuating between thoughts of “I definitely feel my appendix swelling” and “It’s probably just all in my head.”

4) I go BACK to the clinic the next day even though I feel considerably better because my appendix area still feels tender to the touch and I don’t want to die.  I see another NP, the third person I’ve seen at this clinic.  She does some other common appendicitis tests (why didn’t the DR yesterday do these?) as well as another blood test that shows my white blood cell count as normal so she says I probably don’t have it BUT it could be that the antibiotics are working and when I go off it could come back or MAYBE I had some sort of ovarian cyst that burst. She writes an order for me to get an ultrasound.  I ask if I should get this EVEN if I’m feeling better tomorrow and she says “yes, your appendix area is still tender so we might as well check it out. just to be safe.”

5) I go to get my ultra sound. The ultra sound tech asks me why I’m here. I explain. So she says “ok so I’ll be checking for any cysts”  “and my appendix” I say.  She explains that a CT scan could check that, but that she can’t.  I do the test anyway, and wonder the whole time why in the world I was ordered a test that wouldn’t check one of our main concerns.  I also feel stupid for not knowing the difference between the 2 but then I remember: I’m not the one who went to years of schooling to be able to advise people correctly when it comes to their health. Then I just feel mad.  I don’t do anything because I’m feeling 100 times better.  The test comes back negative.

6) That week I go to a new optometrist for my yearly exam and to order some new contact lenses.  I am nervous.  The past 3 optometrists I’ve seen (over about 7 years) I have either hated or generally disliked for their condescension toward me.  This office is awesome.  I realize that my current lens prescription is terrible during the testing and the new doctor puts me in something that allows me to see perfectly, almost magnified.  He also lets me know that he has changed my prescription significantly- raising the magnification in one eye and lowering it in the other, and that I have an astigmatism in both eyes not just one like I’ve always been told.  I ask if this astigmatism has recently developed, and he admits that while it is the lowest level of astigmatism that they can correct, I’ve likely had the condition my entire life.  At 25 I’m finally seeing my best, even though I go for an eye exam yearly?  Something is wrong with this picture

7) Back to the GI infection… I completely recover, but get a call one day about that stool sample I did weeks ago. “We’re calling about your stool sample and the e. coli.”  They ask a bunch of questions.  I am satisfied that I finally know whatever happened with my stomach in Mexico.

8) We’re on the ship and I start to have some… er, lady problems.  I see a Women’s Health Practitioner that visits the ship every week.  She asks if I’ve been on any antibiotics.  I say yes. “For what” “well, I got e. coli in Mexico.” and I tell her the story.  “So they found e. coli in your blood?” “no in a stool sample.” “everyone carries e. coli in their stool.”
My head proceeds to explode.
She does an exam and then gives me more antibiotics and recommends certain dietary restrictions etc. as she is pretty sure that whatever infection happened was most likely bacterial, and in a number of different ways (that I won’t get into here) may have caused my issues.

So now I don’t know what happened, or who to trust.  And so I’m wondering if anyone else has experienced this… and how do you choose your doctors? All of these experiences, though some were good (mainly the optometrist, but it was mainly good because my prior experiences were so bad, and why did they have to be?).  And how do you know when you’re being told the right thing like an ultra sound vs. a CT scan or when you need to be worried about e. coli or if your eye has an astigmatismI don’t think it’s my job to know that stuff… but maybe it is?  I wonder if my experiences with the GI infection would have been better if I’d had a primary care doctor to go to, but how do you choose one of those???  How do I find the one that orders the correct tests for me and doesn’t freak me out about how I might die if this is appendicitis. I guess I should just be thankful that I’m relatively healthy.  If I had any major health problems, how in the world would I know when I’m being told to choose the best treatment or being given the right test?  HOW?



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