Friday, November 11, 2011

NHBPM Day 11 ~ Small town health

Today (11/11/11)  the post prompt for NHBPM is to write about what works well in your community.  I'm speaking to the healthcare aspect of the question.

Living in a small town means the my options are limited.  Fewer specialists and fewer types of specialists, meaning it can be harder to avoid stigmas about an illness like mine.  Endocrinilolgists here "don't see" chronic fatigue syndrome patients and the rheumatologist here that does....well, I don't think he fully "believes in" this disease.

With that said, small town healthcare can be a life saver and far more convenient than you might think.

When my daughter was a toddler, her iron levels were always low without any apparent cause.  She had a lot of ear infections, and I was tired of being told to "wait ten days" every time I wanted to get her seen, which is the answer I always got when we lived in bigger towns.  I worked part time at a clinic for a while as a receptionist in the last big town we lived in, and a pediatrician where I worked finally did more bloodwork for us andhelped keep track of her ears with as little antibiotics as possible.

When we moved soon after that, he called around where we were moving and found a doctor in our new small town that would take it seriously.  The new pediatrician was working to figure out the iron issue, and one day called to set up blood work.  He didn't need to examine her, but when I mentioned she'd been running a low grade fever, he said, "moms know when somethings up, if you want me to see her we'll schedule it."  That was amazing compared to our past experiences.

When he examined her, he found a lump in her abdomen that felt like her spleen was enlarged, but he couldn't be sure.  He scheduled her as soon as he could get her in for the Seatte children's hospital.  He felt there was no reason to monkey around with Montana hospitals for something that could be rare and serious, and that when we eventually got sent to Seattle they'd just repeat the same tests anyway.

It turned out she had an EXTREMELY rare type of tumor and the only symptoms are low iron and low grade fever.  He saved her life by taking me seriously.  I'm not saying it isn't possible it would have been found in a bigger town, but I'm skeptical, given the lack of availability of doctors and short notice appointment slots.

Her current pediatrician is in a nearby bigger town.  They are busy, but they listen.  We have good access to walk in clinics, so it feels like we have the best of both worlds.  But the slower pace or slower attitude has been important for us.  It helped me get my Bell's palsy diagnosed almost immediately, and yesterday when my daughter seperated a joint in junior high gymn class, she was x-rayed relatively quickly.

So small town healthcare has mostly served us well, and I'm grateful for the doctors we've found.
This post was written as part of NHBPM – 30 health posts in 30 days:
I am also participating in my Bread and Roses Blog

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