The Struggle Is Real

How to Shop for a Doctor

Why do we painstakingly shop around for the perfect jeans and but not to take care of our bodies?

By Beth Levine June 22, 2016

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Image: Shutterstock

Usually when we think about shopping, we think about physical items. A great pair of shoes. The ultimate jeans. This season's must-have lip gloss. You name the product and I have spent hours choosing the perfect one. Just this past month though, I found myself shopping for a person. A doctor, to be specific, and it turned out to be one of the most important "shopping trips” I would ever make.

I have had sinus problems for as long as I can remember. Breathing has always been challenging, and over the past few years, things had reached a sort of critical mass. It is not easy to admit, but I had developed an addiction to nasal decongestants, both over the counter and prescription. Tissues and Vick's inhalers/rubs had become must-have purse items, just like my favorite Stila lip gloss. Yes, I read the nasal spray warning labels, but it all seemed so harmless. (If you are reading this and using over the counter nasal sprays, stop. Addiction to them is no joke.)

I should have gone to see a specialist, i.e., an ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT) years ago, but instead I continued to see my general practitioner for a problem that had clearly outgrown him—sort of like still shopping in the junior’s section at 45 years old. So last month I finally bit the bullet and started putting out feelers all over social media to for referrals to start researching and begin shopping for the right ENT for me.

My first round of research led me to an ENT recommended by a handful of friends. Thinking word of mouth was enough, I made an appointment. I admit I did not do my research on some of the really helpful sites out there; Healthgrades and Vitals to name a couple. After all, just like that perfect pair of jeans, your doctor needs to be a perfect fit. Feeling hopeful to finally get some answers for my sinus problems, I went in for a consultation and visit with my first referral, during which I was given some very disturbing news and sent home with no real plan to address what I had been told and no follow up.

Later that night when I was home, I went over and over the visit in my head. Something just did not feel right, like when you know something is just not the right fit no matter how hard you try to make it fit. So I went back to social media again, and started scouring the internet, reading through tons of reviews and doing my research. I spoke with about a half a dozen other practices, and after an hour-long call decided that the Center for ENT was the perfect fit for my needs.

I spoke to Ty Blair, a member of Dr. Brett Cordes' team, who was kind enough to call me after hours to work with my busy schedule. This conversation changed my life, as for the first time I felt like someone was actually not just listening to me, but actually hearing me. I learned that Dr. Cordes was inspired to become a physician after a two-year battle with lymphoma that gives him a unique frame of reference and ability to put himself in his patient’s shoes. Given all of this, I finally felt like I was in good hands.  

About 30 minutes into my first visit with Dr. Cordes he was able to diagnose a few pretty serious things that the first ENT missed and fast-tracked me for a CT scan and surgery to improve my current quality of life and stave off some serious problems later on.

I'm currently almost three weeks post-surgery, and I have never been so happy to have shopped around for anything in my life. We spend time shopping for everything we put on our body, but somehow we tend to overlook shopping for how we take care of it. You only have one body, take care of it, shop around and follow your nose.

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