Dear Doctor…

I hate going to the doctor.  I’m not really sure why.  Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t ever the ‘sickly’ child…or maybe because I hate being sick.  I was rarely the only who went to the doctor and I think part of that had to do with the fact that I was a boy, raised in a rural community with a ‘walk it off’ mentality.  Instead of stitches, I got butterfly bandaids.  Don’t get me wrong, this did make me tough and taught me the importance of “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  I guess the real reason I hate going to the doctor is doctors.

After moving to Oklahoma, I went to a few different doctors…the quick care clinics were for emergencies and just when I needed something to keep me from dying from whatever bug was going around.  I was sick a couple of times and tried to go to one doctor near my house.  This guy was a jerk.  He was one of those “I went to medical school so I’m better than you” type of doctors.  One visit he diagnoses me with some sort of ear infection and explains it to me.  No offense…I’m an adult, it’s not my first ear infection, but go ahead and tell me all about it you went to medical school.  When explaining it wasn’t enough, he described the components of the ear.  Having passed high school and college biology with flying colors, I knew exactly what he was talking about.  This wasn’t enough…he pulled down a model of the ear and talked to me like a child.  While he was doing this I was contemplating kicking him during the next ‘reflex’ test.

There is no need to talk down to patients.  I know you went to medical school.  I know you are well read and well studied and know more about medicine than I do…note I didn’t say smarter there.  I’m not sure if you’re smarter than me.  What I do know is that you think you’re smarter than me.  Dr. Carter worked for Integris Family Care…so I will go back to her office and try out her colleagues.   Who knows, maybe she chose people to partner with who share her compassion and passion.

I also suffer from severe headaches and have most of my life.  He brushed it off and said I was taking too much ibuprofen.  I wondered how this could be the case since I didn’t take it that often and had headaches long before I ever took ibuprofen.  He again talked to me as a child and explained Pavlov’s dogs to me…about how my body just thought it needed the drug and thus created the headache.  He asked no questions about my medical history, or appeared to care at all.  Spoiler alert…I did follow his advice and quit taking any medicine for my headaches.  Six months later…I was still getting headaches every day.

Enter Dr. Mirela Carter.  I went to her out of desperation.  I had just found out we were expecting our first child and I wanted a check up.  I actually had to postpone the checkup a week because when my appointment was originally scheduled I had a cold and I refused to go to a doctor when I was sick.  Dr. Carter gave me a check up and asked if I had any other issues.  I reluctantly mentioned my headaches and she listened.  You heard that right.  The doctor listened.  She spoke in a gentle eastern European accent and asked questions.  She dismissed the quack’s ibuprofen claims saying the amount I was taking or had taken in the past would in no way create these ‘phantom’ headaches.  She had me do some experiments with controlling blood pressure.  She was excited when her suggestions would also affect other anxiety issues I was having.  It was incredible.  Here I found the most amazing doctor. A doctor who cared about her patients.  A doctor who listened.  A doctor who talked to me, not at me.  A doctor who was glad to be there and genuinely excited to be helping people.  Why can’t all doctors be like this?

When our baby was born, I asked for her recommendation for a pediatrician…and what do you know?  She accepted babies in her family practice!  She listened to my concerns about medications and how we wanted to vaccinate.  She listened, offered her suggestions and we agreed upon a course of treatment.  Life was perfect.

This week I got a letter in the mail saying Dr. Mirela Carter was leaving her practice.  I called immediately to see if I could get one last appointment…no such luck.  She had already left.  She wants to focus on her family and providing rural health care to areas that don’t have good access to doctors.  Selfishly I was upset my doctor wanted to run off and play Dr. Quinn on the Oklahoma frontier.   However the more I think about it, the more I realize, it’s the only thing she could do.  She cares about people.  She cares about helping people and while she was helping people in a nice suburb, she could help so many more in parts of the state where they have to travel hours to get quality medical care.

So now I search for a new doctor.  One who is smart…and I don’t care if this doctor is smarter than I am, I just want them to listen, to care and to show concern.  Isn’t the first oath in medicine to first do no harm?  By being a jerk or talking down to people it makes them not want to go to the doctor and that is doing a lot of harm.

So rural Oklahoma…congratulations.  You are getting, in my opinion, the best doctor in Oklahoma.  If you end up seeing Dr. Carter, tell her she’s missed.