By Judy Reiss
Back when I was a child, you went to the doctor that your parents picked. And as far as I can remember, no one asked you if you liked him, and it was always a him. Yep, you went to this local doctor whether you liked him or not. But as I grew older, I realized that you didn’t have to trust your life to a doctor that you didn’t like…or trust!
When I moved to Vermont, it was the day I graduated from college. And it was only a short time later that I moved to Waitsfield. I don’t remember if I actually searched for a doctor or not. But when I did, I realized that Dr. Quimby was the resident doctor who everybody liked and trusted, so naturally I went to him, too. I have to tell you that Dr.Quimby had retired to Waitsfield and only decided to accept patients sort of as a whim because when he retired it was because he wanted the peace and quiet of Vermont and no longer practiced being a Dermatologist. And so he became a legend in Central Vermont. Was he a great doctor? I don’t know, but I do know he took care of the entire Reiss family for years and not only that, he made house calls! When he passed away after giving years of service, some good doctors took his place and a few that weren’t so good! But by then I was older and realized that I could drive and if any of us needed or wanted another doctor more and more were also coming to Central Vermont.
Jumping way ahead, let me tell you about my adventures with doctors, at least some of them! Quite a while ago I was out walking and kept getting pains in my chest. I didn’t think much about it but my daughter Polly found out and she immediately told me that I had to go see Dr. Sampson in Stowe, which I did. And he immediately sent me to see Dr. Torkelson at Dartmouth Hitchcock, who told me I needed a few stints in my heart. He put a few in and I immediately fell in love with him and Dr. Sampson. I saw Dr. Sampson for a few years until he had to move because of family problems. And believe it or not, although Dr. Torkelson is semi-retired and has moved to Newport, he agreed to keep me as a patient and I look forward to going to see him, at least, once a year.
I am not going to tell you how many doctors have moved because it is dull even for me. Just know that with all my dumb physical problems I have seen lots. And it was really an eye opener for me that when I was in the hospital last year and all my children were there. Polly fired one of the doctors who was supposedly caring for me. Truthfully, I don’t remember much but I do remember how surprised I was that you could actually fire a doctor who you think is not doing the right thing! So, that taught me a terrific lesson. If you don’t like your doctor, you can leave him or her and find some one you like, or more importantly, trust. And in my 77 years I have only done that three times, I think.
I have discussed this option with most of my current doctors and each one agrees that if you don’t like your doctor, for whatever reason, you need to be gone from his practice and find someone that you do like. It is also my opinion if you don’t like him or her for whatever reason they probably don’t like you either.
Right now, I have a whole bevy of doctors I have to see, probably on what you probably would call a regular basis. And number one on my list is my general practitioner, Dr. Laura Felsted. Again, my daughter Polly helped me find her and she and I fit together like a hand in a glove. Without her, I don’t think I would be able to get out of bed. But she is also just the captain of my health team! I see another cardiologist who is willing to work with Dr. Torkelson, who is just too far away for an emergency. His name is Dr. Muhler and I am crazy about him. Dr. Aeros is the superhero who replaced my knee and now is working with me on other options about my other knee. He also has fixed my hand that arthritis has taken over. And just by happenstance I got an appointment with Sarah Britton who is a PA who took x-rays of my back and then explained in detail what was wrong and what we could do to help and make walking possible. Needless to say, I loved her.
Although it is difficult to share with you, my dentist of 45 years is retiring, too. But the good news is as I wept at the though of him leaving, I met the new dentist who I now will be seeing. Dr. Jerome is a young, very young dentist and I am thrilled with her. And although I don’t ever want to hurt Steve’s feelings, I now love her and have to thank him for finding me such a skilled and terrific woman. Considering I have the worst teeth in the world, I think he just decided to give her the worst and see what happens!
I certainly hope I haven’t forgotten any other doctor that I see because if I see them I already have put them through congeniality test and will be with them for life. Oh, I actually forgot someone who is unbelievably good and that is Dr. Morley who is an amazing retinol gist who practices out of Boston and the Cape. He also spends his vacations going around the world and giving free clinics for the poor. But over the years he has performed so many terrible procedures on me and his ability is not just amazing, he is the gentlest man I ever knew. I have been to other eye doctors who did procedures that hurt so much that I didn’t think I would live through them. And when I started to go to Dr. Morley, he did many of the same procedures but the difference was he tried very hard not to hurt me and when he did, he would help me by holding my hand. And believe me that works.
Now this column wasn’t supposed to be the medical history of my life but a firm recommendation of what to do or not to do about your doctor or doctors. First and foremost, we all know that sometime in your life you are going to have to see a doctor. And unfortunately, as you get older you have to see more than one. And there isn’t anyone more important to you, other than your family, than the doctor. So pick and choose carefully and remember if your gut or your brain or your heart tells you that you just don’t like him or her, leave and don’t look back! This person is too important to your quality of life to suffer, especially when you can fix it yourself. And don’t let your children influence your decision. Quite recently I went to see a new doctor and when I left his office, I told Malcolm and Polly that I didn’t like him and wouldn’t be going back. And they both said they thought he was good. And my response to them, “then you go see him because I won’t be going.”
We all know that Christmas is just around the corner, so relax, wrap till you drop and enjoy every minute of this wonderful holiday season.