Okay, nobody told me this was going to happen! The doctor I started with before my HIV diagnosis and who accompanied me through that transition, with referrals to a seemingly never-ending lineup of colleagues who had gone on to specialize in the things for which I needed specialists…well, that doctor retired this summer.
Now you might know from reading my articles that I have a certain amount of what I like to think of as stability in my life. I am actually mid-way through my 21styear in the same apartment, I tend not to change jobs as often as the youth of today do, and I have been on a total of three different HIV treatment regimens in my 18 years of HIV treatment, changing very slowly for intolerance issues, not for resistance. And then my doctor ups and retires.
We always stress the importance of a good relationship with one’s doctor in the HIV field. I really had that. From his early (and persistent) suggestions that I be tested for HIV to his respecting my not being ready to do so, through the tears in the first few weeks as I wrapped my head around my new life — and life it would be, not that other thing — through all manner of ups and downs and sideways-es, he was my regular accompaniment. At the beginning of the HIV, I saw him weekly, but we got that down to a regular and more reasonable frequency of every three months relatively quickly and took some tentative steps toward once every four months just at the end.
He was there to hear me commit to my treatment, he also got to hear me worry about becoming (in my words) “a potato on sticks”…and then he was there for the potato on sticks. He helped me clear the wax from my ears and ensure that there was nothing clogging my arteries. I can stop before the imagery becomes too graphic, but I think you get the point. He was my doctor for close to 25 years, and now he is my doctor no more.
Luckily, I have been seeing him in a clinic that still has doctors with HIV knowledge and my file has been passed to another. I’ve had a first appointment which went well, but I still need to evaluate the new relationship and that can only come by having a few different experiences with the new guy.
Test number one: I have a political objection to paying for the transport of my blood samples to the lab (private clinic, so this seems to be the developing rule). I insist instead to take the test requisition to the hospital testing centre and having that done within the system. We had a few problems with that on this first trip — they almost wanted to refuse me a viral load test because the form was not current, but I kicked up a fuss — and they actually did refuse the urinalysis that I always get because it wasn’t marked where they expected it to be. We’ll see how that works out, but I won’t be having a rough ride at the lab and not complaining about it more than once.
The other problem on the horizon is that the “new” doctor is not all that new. Good for the experience score, but I show no signs of decline in my own health, so need I anticipate yet another retirement and doctor change in my future?
Ugh! This aging thing is really not all it’s cracked up to be.