I’ve been reading some posts on my RA discussion groups 0n facebook about people trying to decide if they should get a rheumatologist or stick with ‘just’ their regular doctor. I know that it is a personal decision coupled with the decision your insurance company tends to… um… encourage you to do.
I was lucky. My PCP encouraged me to go to a good Rheumy. I have a hunch, now, that she just really didn’t want to deal with me and the obvious problems that putting off going to the doctor about my symptoms for SO long was causing. But I know that it was also the best thing she could do for me. Dr Holly suggested a couple doctors, one that they tend to try to send people to and another one if the suggested one didn’t suit… I called Dr Booth and I’m so glad I did.
Having a Rheumy on your team gives you someone who really understands your condition, they understand what your body is going through and they have the background to tell you that this doesn’t work or that might help or don’t listen to the people who preach something else.
She talks to me at every appointment about what she sees in me, what I’ve been going through, what I’ve been up to, what the meds are doing to my body. She tells me about the up and coming stuff in the ‘industry’ and what new marvelous drugs are being tested. I don’t qualify for a clinical trial. I don’t have enough joints involved. But it is good to have that information.
The rheumy has the inside scoop on support groups and on exercises that you should maybe avoid given your current condition.
and they can answer all of the questions that you run into… questions that your PCP might know, or might have to research and get back to you on…
things like…. methotrexate if taken the way they used to prescribe it (a bolus dose rather than ramping up) you get horrible diarrhea … explosively… and that isn’t great and sometimes it is better to take things prudently rather than the way it has always been.
things like, be gentle with yourself, you will hurt, you will be tired, you will have horrible days and you will have less horrible days. do what you have to do to get life done. Slow down and love your good days, adapt tools when you can’t love your days, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
So… if you have the choice… I would say… get a rheumy, even if only for a while. They are vastly knowledgeable about what your body is going through and can be one of your best tools in the world.