A woman and her new doctor on a long list that is her medical history

Severe Asthma and Preparing to Start Over with a New Doctor

A few months ago I found out through my mom that our family doctor would be closing her practice and moving out of the province. I don't think our family doctor shortage is as bad as it once was, but when you have multiple chronic health issues to manage, including asthma, it's a bit stressful when your primary care provider is up and leaving! It took a long time to get my asthma managed well, and of course, time to build a good relationship with my primary care doctor--so it's daunting to be starting over!

The quest for a new primary care provider

In the past, I've seen some nurse practitioners at a walk-in type clinic, and found them extremely thorough and well-informed, so I originally sought out a nurse practitioner. I felt like they'd be a good fit for me for a primary care provider, but I couldn't find any who were taking new patients! I quickly moved on to searching specifically for doctors, but I may move back to the NP plan as time goes on.

After a couple of weeks of in-depth searching, I found a clinic website with a new doctor starting in August 2021. My google sleuthing was not too fruitful, but it appears he is a new doctor just starting a practice, so I called to book a meet-and-greet with him. My aunt has pointed out he's likely younger than my 30-year-old self (had to happen eventually, why not now?), and my psychiatrist—who is also leaving the province!—noted he's likely to be very thorough, which is likely a great point to be building a relationship with him through.

As I write this, I’m 10 days from my meet and greet. It's time to prepare how I’m going to best convey my somewhat lengthy medical history into our 20-minute meeting.

The complications of a lengthy medical history

Right around the time I was hunting for a new doctor, a friend posted a meme on Facebook that had a patient describing their medical history to a doctor and the patient yells out "But wait, there's more!"
It was perfect.

Because at this same time, the pressure was on to find a new family doc because suddenly, I’ve got a bunch more intermittent-ish tachycardia to deal with, a few meds that increase heart rate, and now, a cardiology referral in the works from my previous family doc. So, it’s not that I can just coast for 6 months until I run out of meds, I actually possibly need somebody to actively do some more care coordination, depending on how things unfold! Basically, I need a place for people to send stuff, at a minimum, and a highly useful doctor along with it at best.

Not only do I have severe asthma that needs to be managed, I have several specialists, ADHD I take meds for, fibroids that are currently not causing problems but COULD be a ticking time bomb of problematic-ness that I also take meds for, AND, you know, a heart thing that may or may not be a thing (and a history of a repaired congenital heart defect that's always been fine).

So I need somebody who knows their stuff a bit.

Getting prepared and organized for my new doctor

I’ve started collecting records. Making notes. Revising my medical intro note I take to urgent care/emergency if I need to go so that it fits the detail a new doctor may need, but with enough history to be a helpful starting point. When I last started over with a new doctor in 2008 - my asthma diagnosis was tentative, I had no other diagnoses aside from my retinopathy of prematurity, and I now have 12.5 more years of varying degrees of medical chaos in my records. In addition to the medical history though, I also have over a decade of engaged patient-ness and both great and traumatic healthcare experiences. I’m not the same person I was when I last started over as a 17-year-old moving into the adult system.

So, we'll see how it goes. And of course, I'll report back after it happened, with how it went, and what of my preparation worked!

How have you prepared to see a new primary care provider?

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