Well, one of my top five worst nightmares has happened. Here’s what I know.
I got a flu shot about a week or so ago. When I got home I was just looking over the pharmacy sheet that came with it and noticed that the “prescriber” was an unfamiliar name. Estep. Hmmm. Okay, no big deal I guess, maybe Dr. C was busy or out of the office and someone else from the office okayed the shot. Fine.
So then now it’s Monday, the 23rd. I see one of my prescriptions is running out and I need to renew it, so I called my pharmacy and asked for a new prescription. They always contact the doc for me. I got an email the next day saying there was a “delay” and as soon as the doc okayed the new script they would email me. Hmmmm.
Next day, no script yet. Hmmm. So I get up today and first thing I do is check Walgreens website and BINGO, there is the prescription…..with the prescriber’s name as…..Estep. Huh? Who the hell is Estep and why isn’t Dr. C’s name on there?? Then a sinking feeling hit me…..oh shit. Dr. C. My Dr. C, who is my age and has had heart disease for years and omg did he die or what. Oh shit.
So I pick up the phone and call the office, Paula answers. I tell Paula I am a patient of Dr. C and told her about the flu shot and the prescription both having the name of Estep on it for prescriber and is Dr. C okay??? Is he ill? WTH is going on?
She takes a breath and says, What we are able to say at this point is that as of the 11th of this month, Dr. C has resigned from the office. I said WHAT?? WHY?? Is he okay? I told Paula I knew that he has heart disease (they are not usually at liberty to give details of the health of a doctor to a patient) because I had to know if he was ill ~ I HAD TO KNOW. She said As far we know he is fine health-wise. I asked, Is he coming back? Is he going to practice somewhere else? She says, We do not know Anything about his plans, he has not told us ANYTHING. We are waiting for him to let us know what he plans to do next.
I’m sitting there with my jaw open, listening to this in utter shock….this does not sound like something Dr. C would do. He loves being a doctor, it is his reason for living, he absolutely adores it. And he just up and left? WTF?
I asked Paula who was left to take care of patients there…..she told me there were two docs still there and Dr. C’s nurse practitioner, ESTEP.
Okay. Deep breaths. I hung up and then called the hospital that Dr. C is affiliated with and spoke to a personnel director there. She spoke slowly and guardedly…..No, his health is fine. No, we don’t know what his plans are, but when we find out we will let his patients know by letter, whether he continues practicing elsewhere or if he retires. We are sorry for this inconvenience. Hmmmm.
So. Now, here I sit, wondering what the hell just happened. What made him do this crazy thing? He can’t quit being a doctor, he has a daughter in law school, he’s paying her tuition. He would never turn his back on his patients and just walk out. So now I’ve got all kinds of scenarios running through my mind. Did he flip out, have a nervous breakdown? Did the pressure get to him? I know he has chronic pain and heart disease. Is he really dying but they can’t tell anyone?
And now here comes my situation…..this doctor and I have had a good rapport for at least 10 years. (I can’t remember exactly how long I’ve been seeing him but at least 10 yrs) The reason we’ve had a good rapport is because we are the same age, we both have chronic pain and cardiovascular issues (his much worse than mine, I have high blood pressure and he’s had 3 heart surgeries at least). He always gave me lots of time in the exam room to address all the issues I came for, explained things to me so I’d understand them, was kind & cheerful & compassionate. He acknowledged and appreciated my understanding and knowledge of my own medical conditions and I think he was impressed that a layperson did her homework and educated herself…..so we often talked together about my illnesses and my medications almost as equals….he was not threatened or offended by my knowledge (as some docs would be) and I think he liked it that I was not some dummy that just swallowed her meds without understanding why I was taking them and what they did. AND…. he was not afraid to prescribe me the pain medicine that I need to keep me functioning. And now, he’s suddenly GONE.
So I am in “Doctor Limbo” once again. When you are a person with chronic illnesses, finding a good doctor is not such a monumental task. You just get some referrals or go to the Yellow Pages and pick one. There you go. But when you are a person with chronic PAIN issues that require PAIN MEDICINE, that task is indeed monumental. You have to find someone who #1) Understands chronic pain and does not dismiss it #2) Understands that sometimes there are cases that requires narcotic pain medicine to allow that person the ability to have some quality of life #3) Understands that not everyone who asks for narcotic pain medicine is looking for a HIGH. To find a doctor with these qualifications can sometimes require months of searching. The thought of having to find another doctor with these qualities PLUS the thought of having to build a good rapport with ANY doctor all over again is overwhelming and daunting and depressing as hell.
I’m left sitting here with so many questions, concern for Dr. C and concern for myself. I can see the nurse practitioner for my prescription refills for now…. along with any minor medical issues, and maybe that will be enough. But eventually I will probably need to find another GP and I would rather stick needles in my eyes.