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Always Get a Second Opinion - Articles Surfing
We all face challenges in life. My latest is overcoming a new 'chronic' condition that my doctor announced with all the enthusiasm of a plastic surgeon offering a lifetime of Botox injections at no charge.
I was born with a great sense of humor, a character trait that has helped me get through many difficult times. But as my doctor began to explain my new affliction, I found it very difficult to laugh.
First, he warned me that my condition would get worse unless I changed professions. He then suggested that I quit working on the computer and stop sitting at my desk for longer than half an hour at a time. He also recommended that I refrain from doing anything that requires me to stress out in any way, shape or form.
As my doctor lectured me about the perils of my condition, he happily wrote a stack of prescriptions for all kinds of creams and ointments, and advised me to immediately start treatment with injections. He then informed me that this 'miracle drug' treatment costs $2,000 a month, but quickly assured me that it would solve all my problems. And if I were lucky, my insurance would pick up some of the bill.
Needless to say, I walked out of the doctor's office a lot more stressed than when I walked in.
As I got into my car and drove home, my first call was to my mother. When I finished giving her the details of my visit, she declared the doctor a complete idiot and said he had no idea what he was talking about. She then insisted I get a second opinion. I love my mom dearly, and when she tells me something is not going to happen or isn't true, I believe her. The funny part is, she is usually right, so I agreed to see another doctor.
A Different Diagnosis
What was this 'condition' that threatened to turn my life upside down?
About a month ago, I noticed a few red spots on my arms and legs, and immediately went to see a dermatologist. Upon entering the examining room, he asked me to take off my shirt and show him what was bothering me. Before I could even get one sleeve off, he asked if I had any joint pains. (At our age, who doesn't!)
I replied that my hip had been bothering me a bit, but that an MRI scan had shown it was no big deal. He asked me to put my shirt back on and, with no further questioning or examination, pronounced his death sentence. He said that I had psoriatic arthritis, a type of inflammatory arthritis that affects some people who suffer from chronic psoriasis. The condition isn't pretty to look at, and with psoriatic arthritis, what you see on the skin also resides in your joints.
With the doctor's adamant tone and business-like manner, it never occurred to me to question the accuracy of his diagnosis. And knowing a bit about the disease, I felt devastated. However, the doctor assured me that this new drug would help within a few months, although I might have to inject it for a long time, if not forever. He concluded the 'examination' by saying he would contact my insurance company and order the injections immediately.
As I went through the rest of the day in a daze, I remembered that one of my parents' dearest friends has a daughter who is a rheumatologist. I called her and repeated what the dermatologist had condemned me to. She was shocked that a doctor who didn't take five minutes to examine my whole body would come up with such a diagnosis and schedule such a vigorous treatment.
She advised me to see another dermatologist and a rheumatologist for a second opinion, and assured me that there are other treatments besides the injections to start with. She also asked if the dermatologist ran a series of tests prior to scheduling this treatment, as it requires blood work to make a proper diagnosis and begin injection. My answer was no, he never even mentioned it.
Interestingly, the next day the dermatologist's assistant called to say that my insurance would not pay for the treatment unless the doctor conducted a series of tests. I told the nurse that I planned to get a second opinion and would call them back.
My visit to a second doctor revealed that while I might have arthritis and a case of psoriasis, it doesn't look like I have psoriatic arthritis. In contrast to the first dermatologist, this doctor spent some quality time examining me. He also suggested that I see a rheumatologist and do a blood panel. However, he did concur with his colleague about changing my profession, and suggested that I start looking into other opportunities.
Our Bodies Are Our Temples
As we all know, changing jobs midlife is not easy, so I thought long and hard about what kind of profession could keep me moving, stretching and making money all at the same time? After a while it hit me -- pole dancing! This new trend is sweeping the nation, so why shouldn't I get in on the action?
Hold on, I know what you are thinking. Who's going to watch a 40+ mother of four shake her stuff night in and night out? Well, being Fabulously40 doesn't mean we aren't still hot and desirable. The trick is finding the right audience.
So here's my plan. Rather than working at one nightclub, I'll have my own portable pole and travel throughout the U.S., performing at retirement hotels throughout the country. The dancing will keep me fit and active, and the tips will keep me rolling in dough.
Seriously, though, I haven't given much thought to changing my profession or career. We'll see how the treatment goes before making any major decisions. And as for doctors, keep in mind that just because they act like authority figures, it doesn't make them infallible experts in their field. Especially when some dermatologists seem to have lost sight of the fact that they were trained to treat skin diseases and not concentrate on making money by making people look younger with lasers, injections and other cosmetic treatments.
When it comes to major medical diagnoses, a second opinion is a must, and a third is even better. Never forget that your body is your temple. Before you allow anyone to inject you with any kind of drug, make sure that you understand all the pros and cons of the proposed treatment.
All the best,
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