A Surprise Excellent Doctor
Mine. Mine. Mine.
Do you know that feeling when you find a doctor and you feel like they actually see (and hear) you? I stumbled upon one of the rare doctors. Now I do not ever see myself leaving her, despite the long commute.
While I do have HIV, I have other chronic health conditions. Due to this, it can be a struggle to identify what symptoms come from which health conditions.
Unfortunately, some of my issues can fall through the crack because doctors prefer to say it’s a problem for one of my other specialists.
Unlike the case for most people, the rheumatologist I ended up seeing took my symptoms seriously. She did her best to treat me. I stayed with her until about a year ago.
I then started seeing another rheumatologist locally. My new rheumatologist (let's say Dr. A) was referred to me by my infectious disease doctor (Dr. O).
Dr. A and I have spent most of the year doing tests to check for other health conditions that may be hiding under the disguised of fibromyalgia. This involved doing all new blood work and scans of my problematic areas.
Dr. A was unable to find anything that could be causing my pain. She refused to simply send me to a pain specialist. Instead, Dr. A referred me to a doctor that she called a 'fibromyalgia specialist.'
Little did I know, this 'fibromyalgia specialist' would dive into my medical issues headfirst.
Fibromyalgia specialist or not
Realistically when you say fibromyalgia specialist, people assume you mean a rheumatologist. When I googled this doctor (let us say Dr. S), I find out that she is a general internal medicine doctor.
Initially, I could not help but wonder why would Dr. A refer me to an internist?
Despite my initial doubt, I investigated her profile and was pleasantly intrigued. Dr. S’ areas of expertise include Lyme disease, HIV/AIDS, diabetes mellitus, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune conditions. Additionally, she has been treating HIV/AIDS for 35 years!
At my first appointment, we discussed all my health conditions and went over all the recent blood tests and the scans that I had done.
Dr. S reviewed everything and then confidently informed me that my HIV was not causing extra symptoms. She explained to me that my viral load was undetectable and that my CD4 count was at a good level.
While HIV/AIDS can cause pain and fatigue, it is not causing my pain and fatigue. This was the first time I felt as though I had a medical professional sit me down and directly tell me the HIV infection is controlled.
I understood that if I was otherwise healthy, I would be living a normal life.
While Dr. S agreed that I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, she believed that there were some hidden conditions that other doctors have missed.
She took more blood for lab tests, drew blood for a special allergy test, performed a memory test, and a fancy scan of some sorts. I did leave her offices feeling like we would get to the bottom of whatever hidden conditions are causing me problems.
My healthcare team
While this is not strictly related to my HIV journey, this experience allowed me to encounter a very special doctor, who understands HIV/AIDS and how to talk about it more than any doctor I have seen previously.
I do not intend to stop seeing my infectious disease doctor, nor do I intend to stop seeing Dr. S. But I feel much more confident knowing I have both doctors on my care team.
Have you ever seen a doctor and just knew you wanted to keep seeing them?
Since your diagnosis, has your faith or spirituality changed?