My Healthcare Team (Part 2)
As mentioned in Part 1, when talking with people about their journey with COPD, it’s important to remind each person that they are unique in their own disease.
COPD is one part of our lives. To fully manage COPD, we must also manage other aspects of our life to ensure well-rounded care.
Here is the rest of my healthcare team:
- Pain Doctor (Orthopedics): This is a doctor that I see for overall pain management for my arthritis, degenerative discs and fibromyalgia. He is the doctor that oversees my pain medication and can give injections.
- Pharmacist: This is a medical specialty that I use always! They provide the medication that is ordered for me by my doctor. If there is a question on medications or even on contraindications with medications that I am on, these are the people I ask, if I haven’t thought to ask doctor prior. Often I will ask the pharmacist, just to double check and answer any questions that I may have.
- Phlebotomists: These people draw blood for testing and results. They do regular blood draws as well as arterial blood gas. When I could donate blood, they were the people who would draw that pint.
- Physical Therapists (periodically): They help to affect the different areas of the body, to be able to move, to get better movement, reach etc. They help posture. They help too, with shoe inserts and things that work through the different parts of the body. Because I have so many joints and other parts of the body that are causing a lot of pain and stiffness. By working one area, it seems that it affects the next area of the body. I need to find something that will affect all of the areas of the body that are affected by each exercise. I also got my tens unit from them. I don’t use very often because it’s causing more pain.
- PA is a Physician’s Assistant: The PA that we have here, I really like. She’s female which I like, because I think she hears me and understands me as many doctors don’t. She can do many things that the doctors can do, such as ordering tests and writing prescriptions.
- Pulmonologists treat the lungs and respiratory illnesses. This is a specialist that oversees my COPD and asthma health. This doctor refers me to testing for spirometry, my six minute walk, x-rays, etc. He/she helps diagnose changes in my lungs, additional tests and treatments. He/she reviews and prescribes medications. My pulmonologist has also done bronchoscopies on me and has scraped my lungs.
- Radiologists: They focus on imaging tests and scans. Some tests and x-rays require a dye to be injected, radiologists do that as well. I’ve had it done with CT Scans and even for a stress test where I lay down instead of running on the treadmill. Some of the following have their own specialties, but much of it falls under radiology.
- Chest x-rays to see how the lungs look, whether they are clear or show pneumonia. The tech and doctor can also see COPD and cancer in the lungs. X-rays are also done to see the arthritis in my joints as well as to see how joints look after surgeries, to make sure things are healing correctly.
- Echo: This shows the heart and how it’s functioning. I have this done regularly for pulmonary hypertension. I know others have this done for heart health/function.
- CT Scan: This can be used in so many areas. A CT Scan was one test done to help diagnose my COPD. I have this done periodically, to look at my sinus as well. I had CT scans to look at arthritic joints and to look at brain, to help diagnose why I get dizzy and fall.
- MRI: I have had this done to look at cysts and other areas for diagnosis.
- Ultrasound: Have had this done to check cysts, fibroid tumors and even when I was pregnant to check the baby while in utero. I have had this done on legs to see if there were blood clots, thankfully no. They do ultrasounds to check and follow up on the lumps underneath my chin and in neck area.
- Respiratory Technician: This is a person that does testing to diagnose COPD, asthma, etc. and also to does follow up tests to see if there is change in the lungs. Because this will show lung function, it can also be used to help determine what stage of COPD a person is at. This also is used to help to differentiate COPD and asthma.
- Respiratory Therapists: They help with breathing. These therapists are also in the operating room where they monitor breathing, intubate if needed or in some surgeries have decided to intubate before the procedure begins. They have always given me a nebulizer treatment before I’m even taken to the OR, as well as go over medications. We don’t have respiratory therapy where I live, but thankfully when I was diagnosed with COPD at National Jewish in Denver, I met with a Respiratory Therapist a couple of times on my weekly visit and they really helped teach me how to breathe, exercises to do, how to take medications correctly and even how to eat, slowly and smaller meals.
- Rheumatologist: This doctor diagnosed my fibromyalgia was referred by GP. A different rheumatologist discussed the possibility of Sjogren’s Syndrome with me and was referred by ENT. They did a biopsy, which was suggestive of Sjogren’s, but for now, I’m just going to go ahead as I have been. Rheumatologists also work with diabetics and those with some autoimmune diseases.
- Sleep Doctor/Clinic: Sleep Apnea is something that happens to us when we stop breathing for short periods in our sleep. Snoring is a sign of Apnea, however not all snorers have apnea. Me, snore? My husband is hearing things! But I do! I had overnight testing at a sleep clinic where I was diagnosed the first time. At the Mayo, I had a doctor who took care of patients with sleep disorders. That is a blessing.
How about you? What specialists do you see to help you maintain a full range of care?
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