My One True Medic - Scott Ponton

"After over 10 years suffering the excruciating pain and debilitating effects of bilateral plantar fascitis I was to finally meet a new GP after moving from England back to my native Scotland. My notes hadn’t followed on yet, so I had to start from the beginning again, for what felt like the millionth time. I’ve had these symptoms for so long that they are almost like an old friend with whom I’ve fallen out. We don’t really talk anymore but are still aware of each other through the social media of my brain.

I take so much medication to quiet down my pain and my mind that I regularly feel quite foggy when it comes to describing symptoms to medical people that it’s almost automatic. But this automation, bred from familiarity and repetition, can be a little dangerous when talking to a new doctor. I often get the impression that medical care isn’t very joined-up, after a GP refers you on to say, physiotherapy, you are kind of ‘reset’ and that issue is forgotten next time you see the doctor. This was particularly prevalent when I lived in England as the practice was huge, with over 16 doctors, many of whom seemed to always be part-time, on holiday, or at another of their satellite surgeries. Not that I’m complaining about them being busy, people need help, but every single time I need an appointment it’s over 2 weeks away.

Any new doctor always questions the amount of medication I’m on, then questions the established diagnosis and very often seems to undermine their colleague’s judgment. Every doctor has their own view on what you should or shouldn’t be taking – medications cost money, right?

"Can you use this version of that one, it’s cheaper?"

"No, actually I tried that 5 years ago and it didn’t go well."

"Not well in what way?"

"I can’t remember as it’s been 5 years and I’ve slept (badly) since then, not to mention the brain fog, remember? Isn’t it in my notes, you know, there on the computer you are looking at instead of me?"

"No, your notes aren’t here yet."

D'Oh!

So I ask to see a podiatrist at the local hospital, and in due course, an appointment arrives. Yet another new medical professional to meet and explain things to. She examines me with and without my current orthotics, suggests some changes and we move on. I see another orthotist the next appointment, to check the fit on the new devices. She suggests that maybe we have reached the limits of what can be changed with the insoles and maybe I could benefit from seeing someone else that runs a multi-discipline team at another hospital. I agree simply because I’m at my wit's end.

Oh, my goodness gracious! Finally, someone who listens! Someone with time to spend talking to me like maybe I have an idea of what is going on in my own body! Someone who spent an hour and a half discussing the symptoms that are my litany recited to all medical people then teased out some more. I’ve found my One True Medic!

The relief I felt was almost orgasmic to put it crudely. It seems many of my symptoms fit into what might be called joint hypermobility syndrome, and I should ask my GP to refer me to a specialist in rheumatology to confirm. But I don’t want to talk to him, I want her to refer me, my One True Medic, I trust her already. There are no specialists in my area or surrounding ones with an interest in hypermobility syndromes, so the GP suggested that a rheumatology physio might be able to diagnose me. As it happens, my One True Medic knows that particular person. Here’s hoping for a diagnosis that will help direct my treatment and I can get on with my life and try to feel better. I think I might be a little bit in love!"

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