For the last at least 10-15 years I have had the same GP and so has my husband. He has seen me through diagnosis of depression (many years ago), arthritis (and operations to replace finger joints for this), a Hiatus Hernia, Esophageal Dysmotility (swallowing issues) and most recently of course, Parkinson’s. Sometimes, rightly or wrongly, I have thought that he may have thought me a bit of a hypochondriac for the many niggly ailments that I presented with. However, I was usually shown to have something going on with my health when I presented with symptoms. He had been particularly reluctant to refer me for assessment for Parkinson’s, but I persisted as I knew in my heart of hearts that I had the symptoms.
Recently, we moved to a totally different area of Canterbury and so I changed my GP, as did my husband. I went to see him for the first time this week. He was pleasant and welcoming and admitted that he didn’t have a lot of expertise in working with Parkinson’s. He said he knew of shuffling and tremors predominantly, but not necessarily other issues. At first I felt a bit concerned about this. I had gone to him with a concern regarding my swallowing and wondered whether this might be in relation to my hernia – as suggested by my Speech Language Therapist – or my Parkinson’s.
What he did next impressed me. He spent quite some time looking up various GP advice sites for possible issues with Parkinson’s and swallowing. I was aware that time was ticking on and wondering if we would run out of the allocated time. With each new bit of information, however, he relayed this to me and we discussed it. He then offered to contact my Neurologist for advice as to whether my current issues could be Parkinson’s related. He also offered to contact Gastroenterology to see if it might be a hernia related issue. Additionally, he researched medications that might help with the symptoms in the meantime and discussed with me the potential side-effects and benefits.
In total I would say we spent at least 3/4 of an hour together. At no time did he give me the impression that I was taking up too much of his time. I also respect the fact that he openly admitted that he had much to learn about Parkinson’s. In my professional role as a Social Worker I am open with patients/clients when I am not able to give them a considered opinion without further consultation or research. To me that is the mark of a good professional, especially in health.
Another facet of our interaction was that we had originally been allocated to another GP in the practice, who is still on his Christmas break. When I told him this, he offered to take me on instead, as we had spent quite a bit of time together and he had spent some time reviewing my notes with me. The other GP would have to take the time to do so and he felt he would like to continue to follow my case. I agreed and asked if he would also take on my husband. As luck would have it, my husband had also seen him recently for his own health issues. I explained that I wanted my husband to be able to talk to my GP if he had concerns in the future and it would be so much easier if he and I shared the same GP. The doctor readily agreed to this.
So here I am, with a new GP who I think will be good for me. I am early on in this journey and he – by his own admission – is no expert either. However, when I talked to him about my symptoms he listened and treated me with respect. He had an unhurried manner, which put me at ease. He showed a willingness to learn, not only from online resources but also from me.
I move forward now with hope that between myself and my new GP, we will learn to manage this condition and build a partnership where we learn and appreciate each other’s opinions and knowledge.