Second (and Third...and Fourth...) Opinions
My asthma journey has been quite the adventure. Though I was not diagnosed until a little over five years ago, my lungs started taking a nosedive a few months into my diagnosis, and the initial nosedive eventually started moving at lightning speed.
So here I am, pondering whether or not I should seek out other opinions regarding my asthma, my treatments, and my future.
Though I have been seeing pulmonologists since I was originally diagnosed, apparently, there are "more specialized" specialists. I cannot even begin to imagine how long their wait lists are. For a while, things seemed to be alright; my doctors and I found a treatment regimen that worked for me, and I was still able to live a relatively normal life in spite of my asthma. In comes the nosedive, and I cannot say I share the same sentiments about the normalcy of my life or the quality of my functioning anymore.
A disappointing second opinion about my asthma
About a year and a half ago, my pulmonologist first mentioned the possibility of seeking out another opinion to help him treat me better locally. I was hesitant at first, but after some more scary flares, I decided it might be worthwhile to at least start the process. The first place we looked into offered virtual second opinions, so I felt reassured by this decision. Shout out to technology for allowing all of my countless test results, imaging, pulmonary function tests, doctor's notes, and everything in between to make things like this possible.
As I have learned by now, things never tend to stay as easy as promised. The doctor who was assigned my case looked through all of my records and said he had lots of experience treating patients like me. There was one catch though - he said he would not really feel comfortable making any decisions unless he saw me in person. Naturally, I was disappointed that we weren't able to keep this through a computer, but I decided to make the trip (within driving distance thank goodness) and see what he had to offer.
Here comes the second disappointment - the whole visit was a disaster. The doctor ran absolutely zero tests and spent the whole time blaming everything on anxiety. I will be the first to admit I have anxiety, but I am also the first to add that I have documented asthma as well. By the way, who wouldn't be anxious if you can't breathe? Needless to say, I spent the very long drive home (in a blizzard...my luck keeps growing) devastated and researching other places I could go for another opinion. Who's to say that there wasn't still a doctor who could help me?
Seeking a third opinion
By the time I got home, I had already narrowed my search down to another doctor who I was convinced would be the perfect person for my case. The blizzard continued though, and I was not able to make my appointment that I had very fortunately gotten on the calendar for a few days later. Looking back now, that was probably a blessing in disguise; I was not in the best frame of mind to go seek out more answers and possibly more disappointment.
I stayed with everything "as is" for a few more months, but of course my lungs had other plans. After a nice little jaunt in the hospital (again) I decided maybe I should go back to looking for another opinion. I scheduled a telehealth intake with a doctor from the second clinic I had landed on, and thankfully this one went much better. Though I did not have the same invalidation as my first attempt, this doctor didn't really provide much help either. Back to square one.
Should I get another one?
Since that consult over a year ago, my lungs have gotten considerably worse but I am not exactly chomping at the bit to seek out another opinion. I have seen all the local doctors, and my most recent visit turned into a conversation about how my "home" would best be at an academic institution. I'll be quite frank, I did have another opinion scheduled for this summer; this one was supposed to be the place to go for asthma, and I had appointments scheduled and my calendar booked.
So what happened? Life.
Just because I have my fair share of chronic illness disappointment doesn't mean I don't have my fair share of regular disappointment, too. Life kept throwing punches at me, and I decided, "Nope, not today," and canceled my planned visit. I do have a few moments of regret here and there; what if this place was really able to help me? Those moments don't last nearly as long, though, as the genuine relief I experience when I think about the crushing devastation I might have avoided. I am going back and forth right now about whether or not I should get another look at my case, if I'm being honest. The decision to stay local is just as hard as the decision to get another opinion.
What if I'm giving up the possibilities of a new and improved life? My hesitancy does not mean I'll never go someplace else, but it does mean I just don't know if I'm ready yet.
How does your asthma change with the seasons?