My appointment with Dr. Hopeless

Well, my appointment with Dr. Hopeless (as she's known locally) went as well as I expected, she's about as much use as a chocolate teapot!

My first encounter with her was about five and a half weeks ago to get the consultant's diagnosis. I wasn't told the diagnosis but I was told "You need an inhaler. Book an appointment at the COPD clinic to learn how to use one. I can't give you a prescription until then". So two and a half weeks later I saw the nurse who showed me the consultant's letters, gave me the diagnosis of COPD and showed me how to use an inhaler and I was prescribed Ventolin.

I had a check up with the nurse three weeks later and was telling her things I was aware of but didn't think they were there before, e.g. a raw/sore sort of feeling at the top of my chest and in my throat sometimes, I also tried to describe a feeling I was getting in my chest like a weight or heaviness or like the discomfort you feel when something was stuck. Nurse said to see the GP as I may be better on Spiriva than the Ventolin. I also told her that I was fine using the inhaler with the spacer but if I used it directly into my mouth the powder got stuck on my tongue and didn't get down into my lungs. She said she could possibly change me over to a handihaler (not sure if that would be any better???).

So another two week wait to see the GP and tell her the nurse has suggested I come and talk to her as she thinks I may be better on Spiriva so I tell her the same things as I told the nurse. This is basically how it went, I've left out the bits where she interrupted and talked over me.

Me: I'm aware of things that I didn't notice before starting the inhaler, I'm getting a raw/sore feeling at the top of my chest/in my throat sometimes.

Dr: That wouldn't be the inhaler but I can give you Spiriva. You can take that as well as the Ventolin. Do you need some more Ventolin?

Me: I'm doing OK with the Ventolin using the spacer but if I need to use it directly into my mouth (if I needed to use it when I'm out) the powder's getting stuck on my tongue, I can't get it down into my lungs.

Dr: Yes, it does that.

Me: I'm also getting some discomfort in my chest a bit like a heaviness/something stuck that hasn't gone down properly. Not indigestion as I don't suffer from that and it's not associated with when I have something to eat.

Dr: Well it could be indigestion, I'll give you some Omeprazole to try.

Me: But I don't suffer from indigestion, and it doesn't happen when I've had something to eat.

Dr: But it could be acid, I'll give you some Omeprazole.

Me: I know I have COPD and that it's an umbrella term but I don't know which actual disease. Would it be better to know exactly what it is.

Dr: No, there's no point.

Dr: You went to see a heart specialist who said you had a lung problem didn't you? You didn't have any breathlessness did you?

Me: Yes I did. I first came to see Dr B [my own GP who seems to be always away at the moment so I can't get to see her] because I was getting short of breath after walking about 100 yards on the flat, I can't do inclines or any fast walking. Because of the poor heart history in my family she decided to send me for heart tests as well as lung function tests because the spirometry test here showed some narrowing of the airway.

Me: I wish to be pro-active and keep as well as possible for as long as possible. I do walk my dog twice a day for a total of about one and a half to two hours but it doesn't exactly get my heart pumping, she's a sniffer and a plodder so our walks are just strolls. What other things could I be doing that would help? There's a class locally that does gentle exercise, I think it's mainly for older people rather than youngsters.

Dr: One of our nurses runs an exercise class at the local gym but it's really for people who are far worse than you so yes, go along and do the gentle exercise, anything you like really.

Me: I have a cold at the moment so I'll wait until I'm over that and then I'll go along. Hopefully it wont develop into a chest infection but what should I do about identifying problems and knowing what to do and having a plan to deal with them?

Dr: That's something you can discuss with the nurse.

So, I'm feeling rather frustrated. I don't feel like taking the Omeprazole because I'm sure I'm not suffering from indigestion or acid and I don't feel I'm getting any support from the doctor. There's nowhere else to go, it's the only surgery we have and the other doctor is rude and obnoxious so I wont go and see him. The nurse is very nice and will answer any questions but doesn't come forward with any advice unless you ask something. And the fact that she thought Vitamin D was for bones was a bit of a surprise, I really thought a nurse would know it was for immune support.

Good job another member asked about advice and tips as she was starting Spiriva and I've learnt about rinsing and mouthwash after using it as the Dr didn't mention anything.

Just a bit of a moan really. I'll ring the helpline tomorrow perhaps and discuss some of the things I've mentioned.

23 Replies

  • Hi Seaside Susie, I think you will find vitamin D is for healthy bones as well as immune system.

    Omeprazole they often give as a preventative because taking tablets, inhalers etc can upset the stomach sometimes.

    Do you breath out as far as you can before te deep intake of breath needed for the ventolin ?


  • Hi Ivyleaf. Yeah, I know about Vit D being helpful in the absorption of calcium, it's in the Osteocare I take. Actually, I'd just said to the nurse that I took Osteocare and presumed it would be fine to continue with it now I was using inhalers, and that I knew that some COPD sufferers were taking Vit D supplement and what were her thoughts, she just gave me the impression it was a stab in the dark. Perhaps I should give her more credit, forgive my moany mood LOL!

    Thanks for the info about Omeprazole. Now if the doctor had explained that inhalers can possibly cause stomach upsets that would have been quite helpful. Would indigestion or acid be felt in the stomach because I'm getting this discomfort in my chest, sort of between the breasts level.

    I'm the sort of person that wants to know as much as possible and what I can do to help myself. My own GP knows what I am like and is very good and happy to explain things. I wish all GPs were like that.

    Yes, I do a long out breath as far as I can before using the Ventolin and I have a good suck in through the spacer. Not had a problem with that.

  • HI again, I must admit I do take several different tablets a day besides 3 inhalers, so more for me to get upset stomach,

    the pain you are getting could be to do with not being long on the ventolin therefore not used to it yet.

    someone else on here may have a better answer,

    I believe you are in Cornwall? I,m up here in Plymouth.

    I know you do not always have much choice of Drs in the villages and your usual one isn't there much.

    people on here will help as much as can with questions theyre a good lot.


  • H Ivyleaf. I'm in north Wales, fairly ruralish and no choice of Drs. Not sure what's happened to my own GP, hasn't been available for at least a couple of months.

  • Hi,

    I was disappointed to read of your visit with your GP.

    Pity there is not much choice for you. The nurse may be your best option.

    Do not forget, your pharmacist may be able to answer some of your questions.

    BLF helpline may be useful too!

    I am thinking of moving to the seaside! I hope i find an interested GP.

  • Hi Kevi. Yes, I think the nurse is my best bet. I feel I can talk to her and get listened to, only problem is she has to refer me back to Dr for any change to meds or something she thinks needs investigating and this is the problem, Dr doesn't listen to any concerns and you feel sort of dismissed :(

  • In that case take the evidence with you! Ask her (nurse) advice on how you can work with her to get the meds/investigations/you need from the doctor.

    Is the nurse specifically interested in resp disease, or got the relevant qualifications?

    Also contact the BLF helpline and see if they clinically agree. Also they are excellent for general advice.


  • Hi susie, i have to use lansoprazole for the ssme thing you discribed, inhalers can cause acid reflux and inflamation of the aesophogus, when the lansoprazole doesn't work i turn to the old milk of magnesia, tastes foul but it works, just don,t use to much, it bungs up the other end ??

  • Thanks Azaard, at least I know it's not just me then, helps in a way to know that others experience the same type of thing. Just would have been nice if the Dr had mentioned that inhalers can cause this discomfort. I'm not the sort to be happy with "take this tablet" with no explanation.

  • Hello Mrs Seaside, I sincerely sympathise with you regarding the GP practice. It's so frustrating and it looks as though you're going round in circles. All the best call the helpline?

  • Reading the blogs over the time I have been a member I am beginning to wonder if the other symptons Ihave are side effects of my medication. I take Seretide 500 ,Spiriva Inhalation powder and my best friend Ventolin. I also suffer from inflammation of my sinuses I use a Flixonase Spray. 14 months ago I was diagnosed with gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) after a check with a camera. My doctor put me on Lansoprazole, which I was to take twice daily with Gaviscon. Took the medication for 7 months but was still unable to eat properly and had to increase the Gaviscon. I stopped taking them and after a couple of days my condition improved. I still do suffer from indigestion and continue with Gaviscon as required. I do also have slight vision problems. Does the above ring any bells with any of you? I would welcome your advice. Of course I wouldnt think of stopping any of the COPD medication without medical advice. Cheers

  • Hi Evelene. I've only had Ventolin up to now. Not even sure it's indigestion as I've never had it before so don't even know what it feels like. I don't have anything like you describe. I've picked up my Spiriva inhaler today so will see how things go from there.

  • Thank you for getting back to me. I am due to see our asthma etc nurse next week so for the 1st time (previously been to the hospital) so I will ask her if she can give me any answers. Thanks again and good luck.

  • I sympathise so much with you ! The frustration is just horrendous - our doctors need to be told. I know how arrogant that sounds but if I hadn't done the research and asked about drugs, inhalers, pulmonary rehab, the local respiratory team - my husband would still be waiting! If you can ask for a referral to the pulmonary rehab class - you sound pretty fit but there is as much knowledge giving as excercise and that really helped my husband to identify when he was getting an infection, what inhalers are available etc. etc.

    I wonder if the BLF helpline could give you some advise in terms of what you could be "telling" the nurse and doctor? Might be worth a try - they might be able to offer some good advise.

    Good luck!! TAD xx

  • Hi Tadaw. I mentioned pulmonary rehab to the nurse two weeks ago. She said it's too far away (50 miles is our nearest proper hospital). I'll be contacting the BLF helpline (must get myself sorted out today, really need to start today over again, not getting anywhere LOL!) and asking some questions. I've picked up a lot of advice and tips already from this site, much more informative than my GP surgery.

  • Sometimes I realise how lucky I am with my GP.

    It must be incredibly difficult to cope with someone as unhelpful as you describe.

    I take a variety of medications. Seretide, Atrovent and Ventolin are, of course, for the COPD but I have other conditions to keep on top of as well. I questioned my GP about my being prescribed Lansoprazole and he explained very fully about the possibility of stomach irritation. I'm now quite content to add it to my daily "mix". I still have occasional discomfort in the chest, usually in the early morning, but I'm happy that it is just indigestion and not a sign of (another) heart attack or similar.

    What a pity that you can't opt for a more knowledgeable or sympathetic GP. Earlier writers have suggested alternative sources of informed advice. I hope you can find someone who will put your mind at rest. Good luck

  • If you are not happy with the patient care you are receiving then request to see an alternative GP or change surgeries. It is your heath that will suffer if you do not get the care you essentially need to live a fulfilling and active life. It is very easy to change surgeries, just select which one you want to change to and they do the rest. It is also important that you research the GP's at the surgery, ask questions like what they specialise in, if anything and ask around your community for personal feedback.

    As a nation we are not that good in complaining and we often accept services of a poor standard so we have ourselves to blame sometimes for not being pro-active enough and just accepting things the way they are.

    Hope you get an improvement in your care, you deserve it x

  • Hi Tanyamarie. Oh how I wish I could change surgeries. There is not another one here, ours covers a big area being in fairly ruralish north Wales. My GP is the best in the practice but unfortunately she's not been available for at least two months (I was told two weeks ago she was off for a month, but I was also told that in February!). The only others are Dr Hopeless and Dr Rude and Obnoxious so not much choice. I can ask the nurse if Dr Rude and Obnoxious specialises in lung conditions, he's the one you can always get an appointment with at any time because no-one wants to go and see him, if he does then I'll bite the bullet and see him but he really is awful.

  • Ah you are in a predicament then aren't you? Maybe then as well as biting the bullet, maybe a little word with Dr Rude and Obnoxious about how you find his manner and I find that a little honesty spoken in an endearing manner with a smile on your face goes a long way. I also find a little flattery and buttering them up goes a long way, going in and extending your hand as you greet each other. it puts you on a professional level I find and asking how are you before he gets a chance to say anything to you. It will often put them off balance and open them up a bit more. Kill them with kindness is my motto!

  • Good idea Tanyamarie, filed away for future use, I think I'd like to take you into my consultations with me :) . He has the most awful reputation and I remember going to see him once to get the all clear after an ear infection so that I could visit my husband who was in isolation following a stem cell transplant. On that occasion he came out, called my name, greeted me (I almost fainted) and he was actually quite pleasant all through the consultation. I thought he'd had a personality transplant LOL. The reason?????????? He had a student with him who was on a placement! Nice to know that he knew how it should be done and was passing that onto the student, just a pity he isn't like it normally!

  • ooh the sneaky chappy! I'm not surprised you nearly fainted by the sounds of him. Really go for it next time you see him and let me know how you get on x

  • I am going to get a nebuliser today. Trouble is I can't get my hand and my breath in unison to press and inhale at the same time. The relieve that I got in the doctors surgery is worth its weight in gold. Anyone else invested in one?

  • I have one on indefinite loan from my GP's surgery, some do some don't!

    Carole x

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