Saturday, 6 February 2010

‘Hats Off’ to the Dr Hajela’s of this World!

Finding a doctor ‘packed’ with the right qualities makes a world of difference to Living Well with Lupus ...

Last week I went for my routine appointment with Dr Hajela, the Rheumatology Consultant whose care I have been under for some years now. At the end of a positive consultation which confirmed the continuation of the recent improvement in my health lupus-wise, Dr Hajela informed me that he and his family are moving away from London so he will no longer be working at Lewisham Hospital. In other words: he will no longer be my consultant.

When I heard this news, whilst I was very pleased for him and his family, from a personal perspective, I was very sad and to be honest, somewhat unnerved. The reason is that I can honestly say that Dr Hajela has played a vital role in enabling me to obtain a good quality of life and to achieve a degree of stability that once seemed may never be possible; not to mention that we (me, my husband and my family) are acutely aware that it was his brave professional decisions at critical times that saved my life (in the most literal sense) on more than one occasion.

Talking to other ‘loopies’ reveals that the period before lupus is formally diagnosed is very often one of the hardest because an array of seemingly unrelated symptoms plague you on and off, some of which you dismiss yourself or put down to other things and within the medical profession, you are passed from ‘pillar to post’ often feeling disbelieved or as if you are ‘making a fuss’ or that you are being dismissed as a ‘hypochondriac’. With a condition that is as complex and difficult to diagnose as lupus, it is often not until you are lucky enough to come across a highly competent doctor who takes you seriously that you can get a handle on what is happening and do something about it. For me, Dr Hajela was the man who did this. By simply believing me and working continuously to help throughout the ups and downs, he has been a rock for me during the most difficult times of my life.

Ultimately it is excellent doctors like this that play a huge part in enabling people with lupus to ‘live well’, so I thought it might be helpful to try and identify the qualities that make the difference. I found that for a doctor that is going to move you forward, what you are looking for is one like Dr Hajela that combines the whole ‘PACK’ of skills. These are:

Caring and Compassionate

Although having read this list you may think it sounds a bit simple or even excruciatingly obvious, in reality finding doctors that actually embody all these qualities can be difficult. They can sometimes seem like a rare breed but Dr Hajela taught me that they do exist and over the years, where necessary, he has also referred me to other specialists who I find similarly equipped with the same particular ‘PACK’ of skills. Such doctors are a credit to their profession.

As sad as it is to be losing Dr Hajela when we concluded our final consultation last week, we both agreed that in many ways it couldn’t be a better time for a ‘farewell’. He leaves knowing that for this patient at least in many ways his work is done. I am no longer ignorant about having lupus and have been taught to watch out and respond to the signs myself so it never need escalate out of control as it once did. He has identified the best set of medications to control my symptoms and I am now able to lead a life that is not completely dominated by lupus and I am at the end of the final trimester of what has amazingly been described as an ‘unremarkable pregnancy' (!) so in a few weeks, all being well, we will be embarking on a new family life. Without Dr Hajela’s help and support it is highly probable that Tony and I would never have had the chance to fulfil this dream.

Many thanks and good luck Dr Hajela!


Leslie said...

what a nice post! i'm glad that you had such a great doctor and sorry that he is leaving. i haven't quite decided if i like my rheumie just yet, but he is the only one in my town. i like that when i've had new symptoms, he's just right in my backyard... but his bedside manner an communication, not so great! he sent me to see a nephrologist without explaining ANYTHING other than "something came up in my labs" (via his secretary). I was worried I was kidney failure for a week!

i am walking in my first walk for lupus in dallas, tx in april. if you would like to make a donation, visit my team page! money goes to the lupus foundation of america.

take care, daisy. glad you're blogging again! i've missed you.

Toni Kaste NC said...

Hi Daisy,

Congratulations on you new baby.
Please stop by my blog and take a look my goal is to help others with Lupus. I have a holistic and nutrtion based blog.

Anonymous said...

It is a difficult moment when you hear the words "I'm leaving with my family" from your doctor, I suffered form a severe fracture on my leg 3 years ago, many doctors told me that I will be using a cane to walk, but thanks to this doctor I'm walking normal without the use of anything.

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Unknown said...

Hi Daisy, my name is Sarah and I think I am due to meet your doctor for the first time next week. Firstly good luck with your arrival and I hope your new consultant has everything in hand.
Reading your message has really heartened me as I seem to be a bit of an enigma. I don't have lupus but vasculitus which could be HUV, which I think is quite similar. Down here in Brighton I have seen professors in rheumatology and immunology neither are ever on site due to the nature of their positions so decisions are not made. Seeing your comments really give me hope that I will be working on my condition with someone I can trust and after falling ill one day last September maybe able to get out of the house without aid.
Apologies but it appears your loss is my good fortune.

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I was experiemnting problems due to the fact I was suffering of polio, but my doctor helped me so much with his patience and recommendations to overcome this disease and continue with my life.

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