Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New Allergist

First let me say: if you are in med school, or thinking about enrolling, I highly recommend you pursue the field of allergy and immunology. Granted, I am not a doctor and know nothing about the training involved or what the job pays relative to other specialties, but I can tell you there must be a shortage of pediatric allergists based on how long it takes to get an appointment.

Georgia's allergist, who we liked very much, moved out of state, thus forcing us to figure out an alternative. Switch to a different doctor within the same practice? Or switch to a new doctor in an entirely different practice? Pros and cons were weighed. Complicating the decision-making process was my firmly held opinion (based entirely on anecdotal evidence) that there's a wide range in the quality of available allergists. Some allergists take the time to educate the patient (or the patient's parents, as the case may be), and others only run a simple blood or skin test and send you on your merry way into a total morass of misinformation, which is scary when you consider that confusion about allergies can lead to life threatening situations.

We ended up deciding to stay with the same practice since they know Georgia's history, and we have come to expect a certain level of quality service from them. Well, we decided to stay, that is, until I called looking for an appointment 8 weeks out and was told that NONE of the physicians in the group had a single available appointment for the remainder of the YEAR! Our name was added to a several-months-long waiting list, even though Georgia is considered an existing patient of this practice.

So, that pretty much ended it for me. We'll be trying out a new allergist, at a new practice, where we were able to get in with about one month's notice. We got a recommendation for this allergist from a doctor friend of ours, and I've now begun the process of building this new allergist's abilities up in my head to the level of "magical wizard who will solve all of our problems". That's realistic, right?

Seriously, though, I get kind of keyed up for these appointments. They only happen once a year. On the plus side, the limited frequency of visits is a nice reminder that Georgia's condition is a very livable one. Think of all the children with diseases that require them to be in and out of doctor's offices and hospitals all year, constantly being tested, poked and prodded. I am so grateful for our health and the fact that no one in our family is facing that situation at the moment. On the down side, the once a year nature of these allergist appointments makes it feel like you've only got one shot to get more information and ask questions in person. One opportunity to change the course of how you live your daily life for the next year.

I guess I'm exaggerating a bit; it's not like you can't contact them at other times of year, but the annual appointment is the big show in my book. So tell me now - are there questions you have thought of that I should be asking? I don't want to forget to ask anything while I've got the allergist's ear!

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