I think that teachers and doctors should be the most highly-respected and highly-paid professions. Both have the ability to have a lasting effect on the people they serve; and that effect can be either positive or negative. Bad doctors, like bad teachers, need to be purged from the system. But, how can I tell whether this doctor is truly "bad" or is just having a "bad" day or is just stuck in a system that keeps him from thinking about ME and not just my back? In my first round of back issues (in 1984 I had a spinal fusion), I had one doctor who literally pressed his thumbs into my back until I couldn't breathe. He taught me that I need to communicate pain BEFORE it gets too bad; he also taught me that I can walk out of a doctor's office and never look back. (Although, I must confess that even today, when I hear his name, I get the shivers.) Was he having a bad day? Does he like to see his patients in more pain? Does he not understand what pain feels like? Either way, he taught me some valuable lessons - but I'm glad I didn't stay his patient.
I fear that good doctors are burning out because of the paperwork and other restrictions required by insurance and government. I know that good doctors are too rushed in their appointment schedule to adequately take time to help me. I know that good doctors are frustrated by their lack of ability to help or cure chronic pain - but I'm grateful that they're beginning to see it as a problem in itself.
My general physician, Dr. Lisa Miller, always asks about more than my symptoms. She takes the time to find out about my life in general, and include that info in her recommendations. She also includes me in her life (showing baby pictures, etc). This personal connection is worth more than gold to me. I don't know how she manages to spend so much time with me, but I keep coming back because of it.
I realize that I have now spent an inordinate amount of time with doctors, and I would like to thank ALL of them for seeing me, for trying to help me, for referring me to others. I hope I don't see any of you again for a LONG time... :-)