Is it Time for a New General Practitioner?
Okay PMC members, I have a question. Is it time for me to find a new general practitioner?
Here's the situation. Back in June, while digging up a crepe myrtle to move to a new location, I strained my back pretty bad. Several days later, I went to my general practitioner. I've seen this guy for years and he's pretty good with general ailments. I've even been to his house for parties. Small town so everyone knows everyone else. For things like colds, thyroid, anxiety, strains and sprains, I think he's fine.
But lately, he says things I think are inappropriate and do nothing to relieve anxiety about a condition that I've only had for 18 months (the pacer implant). Hear me out.
When I go see him about the strain after yanking on a tree, I explain the symptoms and that the pain is in the mid part of my back and sometimes radiates to my chest. When I ask him if it could be a pinched nerve or a disc (I've had two ruptured disc surgeries in the last 15 years) -- he looks at me and said, "or it could be your heart. After all you do have a funky heart..." So he listens to my heart, does an ECG, then comes to the conclusion it is my back. He orders a couple of anti-inflammatory shots and some meds and sends me on my way.
A month later, my back is no better so I go back. Again I ask him if he thinks it is a pinched nerve or a disc and he throws out another "could be your heart" comment - then he says he thinks it is my back. This time he orders x-rays and another oral anti-inflammatory. But before I go, he throws out the comment, "you know, even if it is a bad disc, no surgeon is going to touch you. With your heart, no surgeon would take the risk..." When I told him my cardiologist says I'm doing great, he raises his eyebrows and walks out. By the way, the x-rays showed no ruptures. It even showed my pacer is in the same position it was when it was implanted. But I know if it continues, I'm just going to call my neurosurgeon's office so they can do an exam. My pacer is MRI compatible so all I need is to have it cleared with my EP before and after I have one if it becomes necessary.
Now between these two back pain visits to my GP, I had a visit with my cardiologist (the EP for my pacer). He gave me an excellent report. Heart is strong, my pacer works an average of 0.4% of the time and he thinks that's when I sleep. I do have some episodes of SVT (supraventricular tachycardia) from time to time and I take 50 mg of Metoprolol Succinate daily, 25 mg extra up to 3 times daily if I have episodes. He patted me on the back as I was leaving my check-up and said at the rate I'm going, I could live to be 90 (I'm 57).
My brother and several friends think I need to get away from this GP because of things he's said in the last year or so. For example, a few months back he said he said since I had episodes of asystole (which led to the pacer implant) - he had to be extra careful what he prescribes since I could drop dead (yes, those were his words) -- then he said, "oh that's right, you have a pacemaker." Another time he said my heart is strong every time he checks it and he wishes they would just turn it off or take it out (to which I replied it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it). Then another time he completely forgot I have a pacemaker and I had to stop him to remind him I do have one. Over the last few months I also saw him for the sniffles. In these coronavirus times, I asked if he thought it was my sinuses. He looked at me and said, "either that or a brain tumor. But it's probably your sinuses..."
Before I close this out, in addition to my regular EP I see, I've had a second opinion at one of the largest medical schools/cardiology centers in the state which has a stellar reputation for treating heart issues. The second opinion EP I saw concurred with everything my regular EP is doing and said he wouldn't change a thing.
So now I'm opening it up for your opinions. While I do think my GP is capable when it comes to regular maladies, his comments are really beginning to irritate me. Actually, sometime I feel more anxious after I leave his office than I felt going in. I realize that you see physicians for their knowledge and abilities, not necessarily for their personality. But I think bedside manner (or should I say exam tableside manner) counts a lot. It is a small town practice, one of the few here. There is one other doctor in this same practice and he is well liked by everyone he encounters (he used to be an ER doctor so he's seen it all). No other doctors in town are accepting patients. My next option would be to drive 25 miles to the next city to see a general practitioner.
While I'm leaning towards seeing the other doctor in the same practice, I'd like your opinions in this situation.
And ....... GO!