Breaking Up is Hard to Do

When I was a toddler, I used to stick the phrase “It was very hard to do,” at the end of almost everything I ever said.

“I tied my shoe. It was very hard to do.”

“I wrote my name. It was very hard to do.”

“I made mud. It was very hard to do.”

As I got older, things became even harder to do. Believe me, I’m as shocked as you are. But there’s one thing that’s SO hard to do that there’s an entire song devoted to the concept.

In fact, almost every song is about this concept. But only one incorporated my favorite phrase so it wins.

Well let me tell ya, if you thought breaking up with that really sweet guy you just couldn’t get in to was hard, try breaking up with your doctor.

(When I started this post, I was thinking of doing this whole “How to fire your Doctor” thing, but trust me, it’s a LOT more like breaking up.)

So you’re seeing this doctor, and you’re not getting answers. You just started seeing this guy and you don’t know much about him. You can’t tell if he’s all business or just doesn’t care about you. Like any bad relationship, you’re going to jump to making excuses.

Dane Cook said it best:

“Girls, you’ll stay in a relationship with a guy you don’t like and you’ll make the weirdest excuses to stay. Your friends will even see it, your friends will be like : “Lisa why don’t you just go. Seriously. Lisa we’re here cause we’re concerned about you and he’s a dickwad. We want you to just go.” She’ll be like “I can’t just go, I can’t just go Karen, it’s not that easy. OK. Like you guys just think I can go, it’s not that simple, my CD’s are in his truck.”

But with your doctor it’s that times a million. See, patients have this inferiority complex to doctors. I mean they’ve been to medical school, and they know better than me. He probably like, saves people’s lives every day, and I’m just in here because my tummy hurts. We’re much more likely to let a doctor treat us badly than we would a mate. And I’m not here to sugarcoat anything – it is HARD to cut ties with a doctor. You’re going to have all kinds of doubts and second-guesses, and you’re going to think you are wrong. But here’s the thing – it’s not a matter of right and wrong!

Let me tell you what happened to me:

About a month ago, I had a really freaky sick day. The symptoms were totally new and totally freaked me out. So I called my OBGYN because he’s really the only doctor a gal with endometriosis ever needs to go to and he’s a nice guy. He said it sounds like some kind of GI problem and I should go to a GI specialist. He recommended Dr. Rogoff at Medical City Dallas – YES, I am putting his real name so that if you are googling him and trying to decide if you should go to him, let me just stop you right there and say NO. Keep looking. Not him.

So I google this guy and my first impression is that he is a creeper. Now, we don’t judge books by their cover, but only Christopher Walken is allowed to have Christopher Walken hair. It just doesn’t look good on normal people. But I’m not saying you should judge people and not see doctors with bad hair. I’m just mentioning it, especially because you’re all going to google him now and you’ll laugh when you see him.

Anyway, the first time I went to see him he seemed like an okay guy. He complimented my attitude and seemed like a perfectly swell guy. So we ran a few tests. I did a blood test and a urine test, and had a CT scan done. The CT scan is a five act Shakespearian tragedy that I’ll have to save for another post, but to sum up: I did not have fun, and I did not get answers.

When we came back to discuss the results of the tests, we had to wait 45 minutes to see him. He was in surgery, so that’s fine. I’ve been that person. But after a 45 minute wait, he basically walked in, said everything looked fine, called me a medical mystery, and said I should come back in a couple of weeks. Why…? I don’t know. But he didn’t apologize, and he made us pay $40 for waiting around to hear that he had nothing to say.

At this point, my husband was on to him. I guess I’m the kind of person who INSISTS on seeing the best in people (well, some people.) because I couldn’t understand why my husband was so ticked. The guy was in surgery and running way behind. That’d stress anyone out. And this is what I told my husband:

“I think we’ve been really spoiled by my OBGYN. Reading these health blogs, I see that a lot of times you have to pay to even talk to a doctor on the phone. We’ve been treated very nicely, but I don’t think most doctors will talk to you after hours or have a word with you for free.”

So between that last visit and the next one, I called a few times about different things I discovered or had ideas about, but Dr. Rogoff didn’t ever call me back. I only received messages from a nurse. But I was still firmly convinced that this must just be how all doctors are. So when we went back, he recommended I have an endoscopy. I won’t pretend like I can pronounce that, but I can tell you what it is. He wanted to stick a camera down my throat, and it’s a surgical procedure. I felt mollified, and like this would surely bring us answers.

Then, in a shocking turn of events, my husband started yelling at the guy. I was mortified and confused. It was like watching a Spanish soap opera – dramatic and baffling. I tried to pacify him by saying I think it’s a good idea and we’ll get answers now and everybody can just caaalm down.

So the day of the endoscopy came, aka The By-Far Very Worst Day of my Entire Life.

We woke up with the sun to drive an hour to the clinic where the procedure would take place. When we got there, everyone was extremely kind to me. The Ambulatory Endoscopy Clinic of Dallas ROCKS you guys. I’m saying that about the place where I spent the worst day of my life, so you know they must be pretty good people for me to think highly of them after that! Everyone was the nicest person ever, but the king of the nicest people ever was Trace the Nurse – THE nicest person ever.

They had me get into a gown and stuck some bracelets on me that proclaimed my allergies and that I was a FALL RISK. I don’t know why, but that really amused me. Then Trace started my IV. Now, the five-act Shakespearian drama CT scan also required an IV, and there was much pain, blood, and crying on that day. So I was totally freaked about having an IV today. Trace was super calming and sprayed some cold stuff on my hand, and he got me stuck and ready on his first try. Then I had to pee in a cup. Why oh WHY do doctors never mention this before hand?? Well, of course I had gone at home. So Trace said no problemo, we’d just pump my veins full of liquid and I’ll need to pee in no time.

Well, I guess I was close to death or something, because 2.2 liters later, I STILL didn’t need to pee. I was freezing to death, because they put 2.2 liters of COLD liquid into me, and now my blood was essentially refrigerated. Trace brought me two heated blankets and a heating pad, and I was still cold to the touch. I felt so bad. Why could I not just PEE?? Was all that liquid really inside me? Are we sure there’s not a leak or something? Trace was as reassuring as he could be, saying that it’s not easy when everyone’s waiting on you like this, and you can’t rush natural things, and Dr. Rogoff needs time to do paperwork anyway, so not to worry. But I was miserable and embarrassed. Why does my body suck SO MUCH?? I felt like the worst patient ever. I was cold, I had a scary IV in me, and I couldn’t do a normal human thing like pee.

Around noon, Trace came back and said that Dr. Rogoff had canceled my case. I stared at him in disbelief. But–but I woke up early! I got an IV! I have 2.2 liters of mystery cold liquid in me! I’m hours from home! I took off work, and so did my husband!!! But I didn’t say anything, only tried not to cry in front of Trace and Husband because they’d both been so nice to me when I’d failed so hard. Hubby started asking questions. What was the test for? Pregnancy. Well, we’d just had a sonogram three days before! No baby in there! And I’d been on my period for two weeks straight! (I blushed. Don’t tell Trace that!) But there was like, FOR SURE no baby. So Trace went to talk to Dr. Rogoff again. Then came back and said no go. He said it wasn’t his call, and he apologized profusely. I said something about talking to Dr. Rogoff and Trace said he’d already left.

Wait a minute, WHAT?? He LEFT?! He didn’t even pop by to apologize, or talk to me, or– or ANYTHING???!?!?!

Trace removed the IV and said nice things about how I was a good brave girl and he was so sorry and not to let this reflect on the clinic and that we’re going to find out what’s wrong with me and fix it and everything will be okay…but the whole time I was like RAGE MODE.

So I my memory is a little hazy and blinded with rage. BUT SERIOUSLY. How could you be above at least CHECKING on your patient? I had an appointment, he had time to come and look at me! But no!

See, this isn’t about who’s right and who’s wrong! Healthcare is MUCH MORE complex than that. I mean sure, my waiter might be wrong about my order, and my mechanic may be right about how broken my car is, but when it comes to health it’s a lot more complex.

Yes, your doctor went to medical school and is “right” about a lot of things. And yes, you’ve lived in your body all your life, and YOU are “right” about a lot of things too. But there’s the emotional side of health, and the need to know that someone cares. There’s the business side, where the doctor does need to think about the bottom line and you need to think about finances. There’s the trust issue – you need to be comfortable talking about your symptoms, and so does your doctor. I hear all the time that I can’t be bashful when I talk about my uterus or my bowels, but if your DOCTOR is being bashful you’d best move on. If you can’t communicate, you’ll get nowhere fast.

The bottom line is that when it’s time to cut ties with a doctor, there are a million reasons not to, and you’ll think you shouldn’t. But here’s what I wish someone had told me:

If you have even the tiniest problem with the guy, even the slightest doubt, even the itty bittiest bit of stress about it, find an new doctor. You’ll be spending a lot of money, and potentially a lot of time with this person. You’ll need to call them on the phone. You might even need to talk about your uterus. It’s very hard to do already. Why make it harder by adding (even a tiny bit of) stress when you don’t need to? Find a doctor who will talk to you. Who you find friendly and easy to get along with. Who cares when you say “I’m scared of needles.” You need to feel safe with them.

When I was planning my wedding, I was very particular. I said no to dresses that were just one shade off, I turned down the most stunning chapel I’ve ever seen because it was 50 people too small, and on the day of the wedding I refused to carry my bouquet because it wasn’t the right color. I took my bridesmaids flowers down the aisle because it was my wedding after all, and shouldn’t it be perfect?

So WHY would I settle on my health? Why compromise on my body? My wedding was ONE DAY. My body’s for life!

Be a bridezilla about your body. Break up with your doctor if he’s not perfect. Not if he’s bad, not if he’s rude, if he’s NOT. TOTALLY. PERFECT.

Breaking up is very hard to do, but I swear it’s worth it. Your wedding is “your special day.” You only get one! But you also only get one life. This is it! It’s all about you!


Make it perfect!

(Don’t get caught in a bad Christopher Walken romance like I did.)

14 thoughts on “Breaking Up is Hard to Do

  1. Rachel, as a doc and a patient, I must say that this post should be required reading for every physician and every patient. I envision a flyer or bulletin in all waiting rooms, especially given that there’s time to read it, as 90% of docs are late 90% of the time.

    My health is non-negotiable, and that should be the standard for everyone. Trust is the foundation of every healthy relationship, no doctor or health care provider excluded. Your insights are spot on and likely resonate with anyone who has been to more than one physician.

    I can’t believe you were cancelled! And with no explanation! Definitely time to move on . . .


    1. It’s an amazing thing how husbands are right sometimes. 😉 I should have trusted his intuition, especially since I wasn’t particularly attached. He’s like those dogs that know when a tornado’s coming. 😉

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