Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.
At a Healing Hearts meeting earlier this year, an audience member approached me about a problem she was having with her electrophysiologist. She’s a regular at these monthly meetings and she had read my book, IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib, a memoir that covers my 35 years with atrial fibrillation. This is my story which focuses a great deal on patient/doctor relationships. I am not a doctor and this is not a medical book.
The woman from Healing Hearts had also heard me speak, together with my electrophysiologist, at more than one of these meetings. Many years younger than I am, she asked me in a private conversation what I would suggest she do about her electrophysiologist with whom she was having a difficult time communicating and with whom she was losing confidence. She wanted to change physicians and was afraid. At this point she considered changing hospitals.
This is a subject that other readers had inquired about. I suggested that so long as she is being treated at a major heart hospital she not change hospitals, but that she seriously consider changing her electrophysiologist. Most of the time the doctor is aware that there is a communication problems and is agreeable to the change. He or she may suggest or recommend another one. It so happens that at our heart hospital there is an ample staff of skilled physicians in cardiology and electrophysiology.
In making a change, here are my suggestions, but first do your homework:
- Know exactly what your own heart problem is and what your options could be to correct or maintain good health. Know your own heart history and other physical problems that could be related as well as past surgeries or procedures.
- Know what medications you are taking by both generic and branded names and why you are taking them. Know the dosage and look up on line their side effects and compatibility with other meds you take, what time of day you take them and what happens if you miss a dose or stop taking them. You should carry a list of them with you at all times. You can do it as an app on your phone, or a printed list in your wallet.
- Know your own body and what you put into it. Be honest. Take someone with you on your appointments as another set of ears. Document your questions and the answers you receive.
- Look up on the hospital website all the doctors in the category. Get familiar with them first by reading about them and if you have heard them speak or know others that go to them, do some inquiring.
- If you are afraid to speak directly to the doctor you wish to replace, confide in a pleasant manor with one of your other doctors or nurses about your dilemma. Ask them to direct you in how to make an easy change. Possibly one of the others will intervene for you.
My friend who approached me about making a change has done so. I saw her at last month’s Healing Hearts meeting. She was smiling as she told me that she replaced the electrophysiologist with someone on staff that is satisfactory and the change in medications recently prescribed makes her feel better and that she has been scheduled for an ablation for atrial fib. I hope to see her at next month’s meeting. I’ll let you know how it works out.