One of the most difficult things, when you move to a new city, is finding new doctors. In New Jersey I had five doctors in eight years; some years I didn't go to a doctor. When I got to Pittsburgh Steve recommended a geriatric practice, and I've been very satisfied with them. Fast forward to my heart problem, which I am still trying to manage. I was in the ER in what I thought was probably the best hospital in the 'burgh, (it was the hospital of choice for the recent former mayor,) hooked up to several beeping machines and my heart did it's thing, stopping for eight seconds. Within minutes I had a cardiologist, a diagnosis, a surgeon and a few hours later, a pacemaker. I left the hospital with instructions to return to the cardiologist's, Dr. C1, office and medications. The pacemaker keeps my heart from going too slow or stopping; the meds keep it from going too fast. Shortly thereafter I went to China and Japan reassured that everything would be OK.
Unfortunately, it was not, although I got through the entire trip without any problems. In the year since, I've been told I may have some blockage, which was not a surprise, and I have afib–atrial fibrillation, not a good thing. Dr. C1 gave me a bunch of scenarios and and then assumed I rejected all of them. I was just confused. After a couple of visits, which added to my confusion, I asked Robin to come with me to an appointment; she concurred–he was not being clear about what I should do. I had the feeling I needed to make the decisions–I don't know enough to do it. I like Dr. C1. He's charming and has a great bedside manner. But I needed more guidance. I got a referral from my primary care doc and another, very strong recommendation, from a doctor friend and went for a second opinion.
To some extent this was prompted by a bad experience I had on one of my walks. I set off for a two to three mile walk. By the time I did the first mile I was having a bad time with afib. I went into Trader Joe's and got a drink and bought something I needed–I don't remember what. Then I went into Mellon Park and sat for about twenty minutes. The afib didn't abate, but I began to feel somewhat better and finished walking back home. I would have been happy to take the bus, but there wasn't one. I didn't like this at all, and it made me begin thinking about what else I could do for myself. I'm not ready to slow down.
The new cardiologist, Dr. C2, asked for copies of my records. My PCP's office sent the records. When I called the C1 office they wanted a letter to release the records. I immediately sent it, noting clearly that I was looking for a second opinion. A few days later I received a letter from Dr. C1 saying goodbye and wishing me luck. Somehow it seemed to exemplify all of my problems with him.
Dr. C2 is now my cardiologist. He has no charm and seems to have the personality of a drill sergeant. But he is a model of clarity and has let me know exactly what he expects and what I can expect. Tomorrow I go for another stress test to investigate the possible blockage. He's got me on Coumadin, which I was resisting with Dr. C1. (Did you know that stuff is rat poison?) I'll keep you posted on what happens next.