I'm kind of confused about when to call my GP. The way I usually think about these things is:
a) you only call a doctor if you are ill
b) you only call the doctor if you can't fix the problem yourself
c) you try to avoid calling the doctor any more than you have to because he's clearly busy
Except that doesn't seem to work well with my GP. He seems to get a totally wrong picture of what is going on with me. A few weeks ago that resulted in a really uncomfortable conversation where he summarized what he thought was going on with that felt really off.
It felt like he wasn't taking account of my history (this is not the first time a cold has turned into a multi-month illness. In fact, i'd say its the norm for most of the last thirty years!). It also felt like he didn't really have a sense at all of what influences my ups and downs and what triggers acute flare-ups. It also felt like he thought that I'm doing horribly all the time and that I'd only had four good days in more than six months. In fact, I've actually only had four really rough periods in the last several months - the rest of the time I'm either on the mend, doing well, or things are going downhill but haven't gotten really bad yet.
Early on he was really good at listening to me, so I didn't think I could just blame him for being clueless (I know many people here have met with some pretty clueless GPs). I spent a lot of time thinking about why and concluded that something isn't working in the way we communicate with each other. Part of the problem seems to be my assumptions about when I should call the doctor. So i've been going against my usual ideas of when to talk to doctors. While he seems to appreciate the change, it isn't really comfortable for me because it is so different from my usual way of doing things.
For example, last week, I went against my usual assumption that one only goes to the doctor when ill and deliberately made an appointment during a period when things were going really well. I got the impression that he appreciated my doing so and that I've made things hard for him by not letting him know more often when things are going well.
Today, I went against the grain again. i've had a really really good run for the last three weeks, but the last two days had a lot of signs that were worrisome: I was really tired, it kind of hurt to breathe, my peak flow was stuck in my yellow zone. yesterday at least the peak flow would go back up to 440 (not quite personal best but close) if I used ventolin. This morning it barely made it to the top of my yellow zone and then went back down.again. I'm more vulnerable to triggers causing acute attacks when things are like this, but it doesn't always happen. Normally i only call him if an attack actually happens. I feel like, otherwise, I feel like I'm just bothering him with a big maybe, raising false alarms, and wasting his time.
It occurred to me that if I only call my doctor after an attack happens, he's left with nothing to do except to clean up the mess after the horse escapes the barn. If I call him before when there are warning signs, there isn't really a lot he can do (I'm already on a lot of meds), but i don't really give him a chance to think of something or even just make the decision to do nothing. I've already made it for him. It occurred to me that yes, he might not want to be bothered by a false alarm. But it was also possible that he could be kind of pissed. i'm obviously not a doctor, but I think if i were in his shoes I'd actually be upset if i felt responsible for a patient, but the patient only told me about problems only after the fact (i.e. after an attack) rather than before when I *might* at least be able to give advice to help avoid the attack. (I'm on a lot of medication, so he really doesn't have a lot of options other that raising the prednisone, which isn't want either of us want given we're trying to taper it)
This time, instead of waiting until after an attack happened, i made an appointment simply because there were a lot of signs that there were problems. As it turned out, by the time my appointment rolled around later this afternoon, my lungs had decided to behave and respond to ventolin and my peak flow was back up to 460. So I felt kind of stupid going to the appointment. Yet it turned out that he actually appreciated my coming in to see him even though things did start turning around on their own.
All this is way out of my comfort zone: I hate asking for help and calling my doctor more often rather than less just isn't comfortable, even though he seems to appreciate it.