I've seen Dr. Stahl for almost 15 years now - he's treated me since the day I was diagnosed with lupus. That's a lot of history there - and I value the doctor-patient relationship we've developed over the years. It's such a good one, too. Not without a few bumps in the road, of course (see Chapter 4 of my book for the gory details). But without fail, I always know that Dr. Stahl has my best interests in mind. When I'm sick, he makes every effort to get me well. When I'm well, he tries to keep me that way.
That includes trying to minimize the effects of the cocktail of medications so many of us take to manage our disease. So it was no surprise when he proposed, at this last appointment, that we consider tapering off Cellcept a bit. He suggested I try dropping back from four pills a day to three (2000mg to 1500mg).
Of course, as many lupus patients do, I froze at the first mention of a change in medication. Why change???? I currently have zero side effects. I'm feeling wonderful. And I never like to change what's working. But I know taking a strong immunosuppresant for the rest of my life might not be ideal, so I listened to his suggestion. And then I made a counter-offer.
I asked if we could wait a few months. I knew that the holiday season was around the corner. Add to that a busy fall season of retail with the pillbags, a whirlwind of activities for the girls, their schools, and volunteering, and I knew this was not the time to make a change. So I proposed that we try a dosage change after the holidays. He suggested the end of December. I countered with January, and we had a deal.
What's even better is that he didn't roll his eyes when I made my pitch. He didn't dismiss my request. And he didn't argue with the facts I was presenting. I know that my lifestyle has a lot to do with my disease activity. He may not have a chart on that...but I do. And he valued my findings enough to alter his plan for treatment.
"The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease."
I just retweeted this a couple of days ago, and I thought it was a perfect way to capture what my doctor had succeeded in doing at this last appointment.
Did it make a difference that I helped him figure out the reverse camera on his phone? Sure.
Was he in a great mood because we'd had a few of laughs over some bad selfie attempts? Probably.
Is it nice when doctor & patient can work together amicably to arrive at a favorable resolution? Absolutely.
Now - if my health was in jeopardy, or if there was a pressing need for me to make the medication change immediately, he would have insisted, and I would have acquiesced. But if I hadn't asked, he never would have known I had a preference. It never hurts to speak up!