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When your doctor is away

It is pretty common nowadays for people to associate with individual doctors. You commonly hear of ‘my GP’, ‘my gynecologist’, or ‘my-whatever specialist’. Well, makes a lot of sense. Your regular doctor will remember much about you, meaning that you hardly need to recount much in subsequent visits. Consistency of care becomes a given, and any referrals are a smooth process.

But what happens when your doctor is unavailable? Your doctor is only human, they too need time off, they can get unwell, or sometimes they simply don’t feel like working. So what happens when you can’t get them in the office or regular hospital clinics? The transition between wellness and disease is no respecter for absent doctors. But when unwell, you need to be sorted out, whether your doctor does it or someone else becomes immaterial.

You may have gotten too dependent on your regular doctor that seeing anybody else is almost untenable. Several factors immediately come into play. If an emergency has cropped up, you don’t really have a choice. You either see the next available doctor, or you drop dead. The choice is yours. Non-emergency situations are a different matter. Anything that can be delayed without jeopardizing your ongoing health can wait for your doctor to return. There is never any rush in treating stuff that can wait, getting seen days or weeks later may not make any difference in the grand scheme of your health status.

The judgment call is yours. Do not put yourself at risk unnecessarily by being too rigid. Yes, your doctor is great, and one of a kind. But there are other good doctors too, that’s why everybody else is still alive. Be flexible with seeking medical help. If you can’t find your doctor for a multitude of reasons, be open to seeing a different one. Who knows, you might even find yourself decamping to a different approach with your healthcare. You might never have appreciated that what ails you can be treated differently from what you have always known.

Desist from endless calls to your absent doctor. Or endless emails and text messages despite automated responses of his or her absence. Your doctor needs quality time away at times, just like you do. It doesn’t help if you keep disrupting their peace, it’s their time to recuperate from the pressures of clinical commitments, and re-energize in order to serve you better once they return.

Your doctor still has responsibilities to uphold your health even when they are physically absent. You should be notified well in advance that your doctor will be away, and the plans in place to cover such periods of absence. Shared responsibilities between you and your doctor mean that your health should never get compromised at any point, regardless of absences on your doctor’s part.

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