My doctor dilemma

I am in a dilemma. I adore the internist I’ve been seeing for decades, but he’s just not the doc he used to be. He’s in his early seventies, which isn’t an issue by itself. His mind, however, doesn’t seem to be as sharp as it was. He’s less decisive and he appears somewhat tired. He’s never been much of a note keeper so his able assistant started taking notes for the files. I love her, too, but she’s not a doctor or a nurse. Although the doctor gives me a complete physical every year that includes a lung x-ray, EKG, blood workup, etc., he’s not as astute about my over-all wellbeing as I’d like.

A FOF friend told me about her FOF doctor, a gynecologist who is focused on women’s total wellness, especially after menopause.

I made an appointment to meet her. I was asked to bring all my medical records, from the most recent blood tests to surgical reports, mammograms, colonoscopy reports, etc. She conducted an exhaustive interview with me (it lasted for hours) about my habits (eating, drinking, sexual), my background (from my parents relationship to where my son and daughter work), and numerous other subjects.  She did a gynecological exam, and took additional blood tests. She put me on a strict diet (I needed to lose 20 pounds) and made an appointment for a follow up visit this Thursday, when she’ll review whether the vitamins and supplements I’m taking are appropriate and if I’ve lost weight (I have, 7 pounds).

She called yesterday to tell me my iron count is low and my mercury count is high.

“Are you tired?” she asked.

“Not at all,” I answered, “I have tons of energy.”

“Well, you’ll have more when we fix the iron.”

“And you’ve got to stop eating all fish,” she added.

I called my internist to ask why he never tested my iron and his assistant said: “Because we had no reason to believe you’re anemic.  Your hemoglobin count is good, your red and blood counts are good and so is your hematocrit (whatever that is) and platelets.”  I also asked about the mercury. “If you ate tuna the day before, (I did) your mercury will be high.”

Hmm.  Something isn’t adding up, at least as far as the iron and mercury counts. Is the second doctor taking unnecessary blood tests?  Does she really understand nutrition and blood like a nutritionist or hematologist?  I’d still need an internist.

I like the idea of one doctor looking over my total wellness, but I’m not convinced she’s the right doctor for me, either.  I shall go for the second visit and share the info with my current internist. Then I’ll keep all my FOF friends posted.

3 Responses to “My doctor dilemma”

  1. Duchesse says:

    I figure if my vital signs are good, given a family history of remarkable longevity, I am just going to get the tried and true tests that conservative evidence-based medicine recommends: a checkup and the classic tests every year, the mammo every two. Sounds like you need a happy medium between the two, but I am in awe of the accumulated experience of mature physicians.

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  2. Maureen@IslandRoar says:

    Hmmm, this is very interesting. As a nurse I’m a big believer that there is way too much testing going on. If your hemoglobin and hematocrit were normal and you weren’t reporting feeling tired or other symptoms, then I wouldn’t have worried about your iron either. Not sure about the mercury; I know that can be a big issue if people eat too much fish, but again, there are some symptoms over time.
    I think it’s worth noting that if you’re feeling like you did about your original doc, you should follow your instincts. If something does change with your health, it’s nice to trust who you’re seeing and not have to start searching when you’re already stressed out.
    Keep us posted!

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  3. Heather Chapple says:

    Very interesting… it will be fun to hear the outcome.

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