Long-Distance Neurologist: I’m Not Sure What to Do

As of now I plan to move back to Colorado at the end of April. This is actually something that has been in the works for a while now, but the day of my departure is coming fast, and while I feel like I have a decent game plan on how to make this move work, I am still worried about 1 thing; my neurologist. I love my neurologist; I feel like he changed my life with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I trust him, I admire him, and in my opinion, his knowledge about MS seems to be unparalleled by anyone else I have ever met. I really can’t speak highly enough of him, can you tell?

Anchored to a place due to my neurologist

But I have known for a while now that I can’t be anchored down to a place where I am really unhappy living in (California) just because I have a great neurologist, a neurologist that I only found after going through a seemingly countless number of other neurologists who in my opinion, were as knowledgeable about MS as “Dr. Google”. So, do I make the move and try to make the long-distance neurologist thing work (as I know others who see him do), or do I start trying to branch out and find a new neurologist? Or both?

Finding a new doctor

I hate the whole “finding a new doctor” thing… I always did. Maybe it’s because I am a creature of habit who doesn’t like change? Maybe it’s because I have always had minor trust issues, and I don’t want to spend time trying to find someone new that I feel I can build a trustworthy, doctor-patient relationship with? Or maybe it’s because (if I am being honest) I always just hated doctors, and the idea of having to search for one that I don’t dislike all over again is just so… overwhelming? Either way, this makes me wonder if those aren’t the actual reasons I don’t want to commit to finding a new neurologist. Or maybe it’s all those things on top of the fact that I already have a great neurologist that I am really happy with! If I had a neurologist that I was unhappy with, it would probably be easier for me to take a deep breath and just dive back into the world of “building a healthcare team”. I don’t know? I’m just really dreading this!

It's probably time to start fresh

When I try to think about it objectively, I seem to come to the conclusion that it’s probably time to start fresh. I don’t really have a healthcare “team” anymore; my primary-care physician left the office and I never really bothered to try finding a new one, I don’t go to physical therapy (PT) or occupational therapy (OT) anymore and I never really stuck with any of my neuro-ophthalmologists. It’s just my neurologist who at this point, I haven’t even been seeing that often anymore because I feel like my MS is at a standstill. But why wouldn’t it be? I haven’t actually been doing anything to try to change it… I have pretty much just been trying to learn to come to terms with the way things are now and I have always believed that things typically don’t change unless you do something to change them. So maybe finding a new neurologist, a new primary care, a new PT/OT, and everyone else I need on my team wouldn’t be as bad as I am imagining it to be and instead actually open up new doors that could lead to a happier, healthier life.

More than one neurologist?

Or what if I build a new healthcare team in Colorado and visit my neurologist here in California maybe once or twice a year to get his professional opinion on how I am doing based on both a regular exam and my MRI/Lumbar Puncture (LP) results? I know for a fact that he has patients who fly in from other states to see him, but I don’t know what the circumstances of their health are. What worries me most about this is the whole “doctors stepping on each other’s toes” thing. What if my new healthcare team has a new regimen for me to follow and prescribe me things that my current neurologist doesn’t agree with or vice versa? Especially if I have more than one neurologist? I don’t know how that really works, I don’t even know if other people out there have/see more than one neurologist regularly? Would two neurologists actually work together on one patient or would it just become a battle of egos?

Hard to let go

The more I read over everything I just wrote the more I realize that it sounds like I just don’t want to “let go,” in fact, it almost reminds me of dating someone that I know it is time to call it quits with but because I have been dating them for so long I am doing everything I can to “make it work”. Funny, I am not sure if this says more about how important of a role a neurologist can play in the life of someone who has MS or if it says more about me and how I think. I don’t know, but that sort of reinforces my conclusion that I should probably just start building a new healthcare team in Colorado, but then in a year or so, I can visit my neurologist in California to simply assess how I am doing compared to when he last saw me to better determine how much better or worse I am doing, not to change my treatment regimen.

What do you think? Do you have experience with moving away from the area of a doctor you are really happy with? Did you end up rebuilding your healthcare team or do you manage a long-distance, doctor-patient relationship? Or both? Help me out on this one, I am sure I am not the only person in this predicament so I am certain your advice for me will help many others!

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