When It Comes to Integrated Care, We Have Work to Do

I know that we have a lot of work to do to integrate health care, and my recent experience simply reinforced that.

Two years ago, I was feeling a little down-and-out and I couldn’t shake it off. I made an appointment with my Primary Care Physician (PCP) to talk with her about getting on an anti-depressant. She had me fill out the standard 10-question form and when I asked about getting a prescription for Wellbutrin, her response was, “Sure, let’s try it.” She didn’t talk with me about other options. She seemed content to write the prescription and send me on my way.

A year later, I met with a new PCP who is my current doctor. I love her. She listens to me – even when the test results say otherwise. I went to see her when I had strep throat. The in-office rapid response test indicated that I was not sick. But I’ve had strep throat so many times, I knew that I had it. She wrote me a prescription and I got better. Her office called with the lab results two days later: I did have strep throat, but it was the atypical Group C and not Group A (which is what normal people get). Leave it to me to have something weird!

But, I digress. My current PCP talked with me about Wellbutrin, and we made a plan. I felt really comfortable talking with her about it and discussing options.

Fast forward to earlier this month when I had my tonsils removed (reference the aforementioned strep throat – which I had 3 times in 2018). My ENT (Ears, Nose & Throat doctor) knew I was on Wellbutrin. I was told it was okay for me to take it with the four other medications I had to take during my recovery. But when I went for my post-op exam three days after my surgery, the ENT was unapproachable. He barely asked me how I was feeling, and he didn’t ask me about pain levels, whether physical or emotional. It felt very rushed. If I had been having a tough time emotionally, I would have left the ENT’s office feeling more isolated than ever.

I’m lucky. I have a strong support system. I’m surrounded by family – by blood and by choice. Not everyone has that. And it’s sad that the doctors who treat our physical health don’t understand the importance of our emotional health, too.

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