Does Your Primary Care Doctor Really Care?

Last updated: November 2022

I was living out of state when mom called. She had not been diagnosed with COPD yet but was having chronic health problems. Wow! Another round of antibiotics for her 3rd sinus infection in less than a year.

I felt so helpless

I pried her with questions, like, “Does your primary care doctor really care? What is she saying about the big picture here?” I felt so helpless, and also responsible. With 3 states between us, I couldn’t run home when problems came up. I wanted someone to take responsibility for mom’s health when she couldn’t. My siblings all worked full time and helped a lot, but I worried.

Mom’s stuffy nose and scratchy throat came back at me, “She doesn’t know what’s causing my allergy problems either.” That wasn’t good enough for me. Even though mom was comfortable with our family doctor, and we’d all seen her for years, something was wrong. I mean, she was fresh out of med school when my grandma started going to her. Didn’t that mean we could press for more answers?

Respect for doctors

Like most people, we looked up to the doctor and staff. They held lifesaving information, the gateway to the right medicine, and ultimately our lives in their hands. Okay, I can be overly dramatic. However, having grown up with the need for medical specialist myself, I had respect for those in health care. Yet, I held no illusions that they were gods.

I was so frustrated. I booked a flight and told mom to book an appointment. It was time for a doctor visit and a mother-daughter reunion all in one. Our family doctor had an attitude along the lines of “whatever made mom happy.” Well, smoking made her happy. Eating cheeseburgers and fries from a local mom and pop joint made her happy. Was the doctor’s office simply placating her while she withered away with one nagging health problem after another?

Doctors are just human

I had taken the hard road and became the pushy daughter. I asked if her frequent respiratory infections could be pointing to a bigger problem. We had been dancing around it for years. No one wanted to hear the real truth.

When we talked to the doctor that day, it was very emotional for us all. The doctor reminded mom of her need to eat healthier and cut back on smoking. She referred mom to a pulmonary specialist, and encouraged her to get back on the nicotine gum. I was there to make sure mom understood everything. She took note of that and was tender, but firm.

Does your primary care doctor really care?

What mom and I discovered during her office visit was that her doctor cared deeply. Her eyes were troubled, and she made some strong recommendations. It was the beginning of big changes in mom’s life. She saw that her doctor and all of us kids were worried, and felt confident in making new choices for her future.

Maybe you’re wondering, does your primary care doctor really care? Perhaps you can invite a friend or family member to your next visit. It can open the door for trust. Mom’s doctor could be trusted. We had been unsure if anyone was looking at the bigger picture. It felt good to look for signs that someone in the medical field really cared.

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