An Expert's Guide to Health Practitioners
PART I : Medical Practitioners
If you’re living with chronic pain and illness, I bet you’ve seen a lot of doctors, right? And probably quite a few other health and medical practitioners as well.
I like to hear about what has and has not worked for fellow spoonies (spoonie: any individual who suffers from a chronic illness), so in return, I’m going to share some information on who I’ve seen, what they do and how helpful they were for me. And just a disclaimer: what worked and didn't work for me is unique to me. You may have a completely different experience.
Today I’m going to start with traditional medicine, and on Wednesday I’ll get into all the alternative (or “woowoo”) methods I’ve tried. Here we go:
General Practitioner: My family doctor. She does my yearly physical, co-ordinates referrals, refills prescriptions and deals with minor health issues that arise. My GP kicks ass, I only wish sometimes she could do more specialized things because she's so good. 9/10
Internist: This guy is an expert in chronic pain, fibromyalgia, myalgic encephalomyelitis, and central sensitivity syndrome. He set me up on a medication protocol that really works, and taught a class to all his patients on how to live well with FM/ME. One of the best doctors and most valuable resources I’ve encountered. 10/10
Neurologist: This specialist hooked me up to electrodes and machines and ran a current through me. Nothing came of it. 0/10
Gastroenterologist: An expert on the digestive system. He saw me a few times for IBS and a stomach ulcer, put a tube down my throat (after knocking me out, thank goodness!) and assured me I was going to live. Didn’t really have any useful solutions to offer. 5/10
Gynecologist(s): I’ve seen a lot of these doctors, who work with lady bits. After much poking and prodding, and some diagnosing (vulvodyina and mild endometriosis), they offered many helpful ideas. 7/10
Continence Nurse: The nurse I saw was responsible for all bladder-related problems. I went to see her for IC instillations (where they put medication directly into your bladder - fun! fun! fun!). Not only was she hysterically funny, the treatments worked. 10/10
Allergist: He tested me for all sorts of allergies, but the results (mold, dust) didn’t really help me make a useful change in my life. 3/10
Dermatologist: A skin doctor. He could not explain my numb patches, but did help with moles and dry skin. 6/10
ChangePain Clinic: A clinic for people with chronic pain, where doctors are dedicated to reducing and eliminating pain. I went for a few classes on movement and art therapy, which were helpful, and received saline injections into muscle trigger points, which did alleviate some of the pain. 8/10
Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist: Physiotherapy is used to treat pain and increase movement. Physiotherapists use a variety of techniques, including all sorts of machines and gadgets and then they usually assign exercises for homework (which I’m terrible at getting done). Pelvic floor physiotherapists focus on the girly bits, and the one I saw helped me significantly reduce my pelvic pain (probably because I actually did all the homework this time)! 8/10
Psychiatrist: These doctors are usually more into prescribing medications than doing talk therapy. There are good psychiatrists out there, although the last one I saw said my case was too complicated and there was nothing he could do to help me. 0/10
Psychologist: Another brain doctor, but this one doesn’t prescribe medications – they use talk therapy instead. I had a bad experience with the guy I saw – I was in a deep depression, didn’t want to live, had high anxiety, and he suggested I meet someone and fall in love as a solution. I knew I should never have trusted a doctor who spiked his hair. 2/10
Counsellor: A counsellor has training, but not as much as a psychologist. They can’t prescribe meds, and instead use a variety of different techniques to help you deal mentally and emotionally with what you are going through. I could not have gotten through life without good counsellors! 10/10
There you have it. I’ve probably missed a few, but I’ve seen a lot of doctors over the past 20+ years!