9/10/2013 1:50 PM
By Paul Willgoss
I got my annual cardiac check-up letter this week, and as I suspected I’ve been given a new cardiologist. My old one is retiring—and let’s face it, I’m not known for giving cardiologists an easy time!
So new cardiologist, new relationship…
I’m fortunate that with my advocacy roles I know most of the ACHD specialists in the U.K., so I know he’s an expert in us. First hurdle over, the rest plays out like internet dating. At least it can seem that way.
A quick Google showed—yes, he is who I thought he was, and yes, he is an expert in ACHD, working at the ACHD centre nearby.
Then, a lengthier search on Medline—ohhhh, published on exercise and ACHDers, and lead author on a study into the positive effects that structured exercise programmes have on ACHDers' Quality of Life indicators.
I’m beginning to like this...
Appointment date: Checked in the works calendar, it’s a pain but doable, no need to change it.
So strategies for the first real meeting are needed—when I’ve met him before I’ve been an advocate, but this time I’m a patient. Sometimes it is difficult to separate those roles, but for those 30 minutes I have to. This is my check-up, my time to address any worries I have lurking at the back of my head, and to get a measure of their happiness with how my heart is working.
And then it’s on to the important questions, like what to wear. I have a tradition of wearing my most cherished “completed a run” t-shirt of the year; however, as much as I love my 100-mile run t-shirt it’s not the easiest one to read over a set of medical notes. So maybe I’ll go with the 30-mile Ultra one, which very simply, in inch-high letters, reads “OMM 30 Mile Intro to Ultra.” That could be the one!
The serious point—and occasionally I do make them—is this: I know I’m lucky as an advocate to know these doctors well (most of us don’t), so check they have the appropriate specialism, or are training to be a specialist (with suitable experts mentoring and training them). Have a look if they have any research interests—it may be a pleasant surprise! Plus, make sure the date works for you, and wear something nice.
I might just skip the flowers, though!
Marathon runner, GUCH (Grown Up with Congenital Heart Disease), long-distance hiker, charity trustee, patient advocate and whisky lover—Paul Willgoss is all of these and more. A member of the Most Honourable Order of the British Empire, his efforts both in front and behind the scenes for those with congenital heart defects have been recognized at the highest levels in his native U.K.
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