After seeing some posts about the difficulty of dealing with the medical profession particularly Estellemac’s recent comments about Doctor Training I thought it would be good to talk about my positive experience to show that there are good Doctors out there. In a way I may be lucky in that I live in an area that has a way higher proportion of older patients than most practices and so they are used to dealing with cantankerous grumpy old men!!
When I first started experiencing the issues which I now know was PMR rearing it's ugly head the doctor in the practice looked at all sorts of potential problems and I went off to see a knee specialist (both knees now in some need of half replacements) and tried various other things. Went on for six months without coming up with a solution but then watching a repeat TV programme (Doc Martin on Dave for those of you UK based) I realised that the pronounced arteries in my forehead could be GCA. A quick call to the duty doctor and within an hour I was having a blood test and after the weekend and the results she was arranging for me to visit the rheumatologist. That was 21 months ago, and I hadn't seen the original doctor until a month or so ago when I saw her in relation to something else. Her first words to me when I walked into the surgery were "I owe you a serious apology for not recognising your PMR symptoms last time I saw you and I am surprised you had the confidence to come and see me again. It could have had serious consequences with the GCA". We continued to have quite a conversation about PMRGCA and how rare it is for doctors to come across a case and how there needs to be more education of medical practitioners particularly in relation to GCA and its potentially catastrophic consequences.
Going on from my diagnosis the surgery has been great. They have worked with me on pred reduction schedules and the consequences of my two big flares. I get priority on booking appointments, I get a text with the results of my monthly blood test the morning after it has been taken and have great communication with the doctor via email with a 24-hour response time. I don't think I could find better interaction anywhere. I'm also blessed with a great pharmacist who is independent of the big chains and is the third generation of his family to be the local pharmacist operating and living in the same premises. Given he is not far from retirement we are all hoping that one of his children might follow in his footsteps!! Combine all of that with a rheumatologist who works with me, reacts to what is happening with me, arranges regular scans and is keen to try new approaches (currently on my eighth week of a Leflunomide trial which is being looked at as a potential new treatment) I really have a great deal of confidence in the NHS though we do need to raise the awareness of PMRGCA much further