Sunday, October 4, 2015

Know Your Medical History

I need to complain.

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss deafened my left ear three years ago. Because I've also had bouts of sudden sensorineural hearing loss in my right ear, I've earned regular checkups with my otologist twice a year even though the ear has remained stable for over two years.

I had one of those checkups last week.

I had complained previously that I'd had a couple of dizziness episodes after flying, and asked if it could be related to the cochlear implant surgery. I am a frequent flyer, and I'd never had any problems before with changing pressure or dizziness. My doctor explained that my sinus disease was the more likely culprit, and suggested I use decongestants and nasal spray prior to flights to keep them open. So I did. And I added a Dramamine tab, too. Since then, I haven't had any other problems when flying.

So his casual statement last week that he wanted to see me THREE times a year to monitor my Meniere's came as an outright shock. "I don't have Meniere's," I protested -- probably a little too loudly.

He stumbled and stuttered in his response, and tried to tell me that I had the disorder in my right ear. And the irregular hearing loss and occasional dizziness were symptoms. I felt like he knew he'd been caught off-guard and was covering his tracks rather than admitting he'd made a mistake.

I argued, of course. I pointed out that I had none of the symptoms of Meniere's and that he had told me on more than one office visit that my dizziness after flying and the continuing irregular hearing loss were related to sinus disease and Eustachian tube dysfunction, not Meniere's. I even told him he probably should check my chart again. I protested that the increase in checkups to every four months instead of six months wasn't necessary since my audiogram showed my ear to be stable.

He disagreed, and marked my discharge paper for 4 months. Then he smiled as he walked me out. The appointment desk wouldn't budge on the date either. I tried.

Checking my online health report at home, I noticed he'd coded my chart with a diagnosis of idiopathic acquired sensorineural hearing loss, just as he's done for the three years since this all began. Not Meniere's. I guess he looked back at my chart.

I am still flabbergasted that he would toss out a misdiagnosis so easily. I believe he may have confused me with other patients or he didn't review my chart before he came in to see me. But I was diligent.

There's no excuse for any doctor to enter an established patient's room and make such a mistake, in my opinion. I pay him to be better than that. And he is making decisions about me that could affect my health for many years to come. He is a highly skilled surgeon, and he is very knowledgeable about hearing loss and diseases of the ear. But I am more than a little ticked at this misstep. I'm not fooled easily. I am fully aware of my medical history and diagnoses. You should be, too.

I have not decided if I will keep the appointment in four months. Or if I will keep this doctor.

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