When do you go to the doctor?

Not those appointments. I mean the ones for regular person problems. Many of us with chronic and autoimmune conditions lead a double life, one filled with people you work with and people you love, the other with people who know you on a level where you can’t decide whether it’s good or bad that they call you by your first name. Those are your doctor(s), their staff, even the pharmacist who sees you on a monthly basis. It’s like a secret family you only discovered upon your diagnosis.

Set those aside. Let’s talk about all the times you knew you should have gone to your General Practitioner (GP)/Family Doctor/Internist, whatever you want to call it, and didn’t. It was too much of a hassle, or you were sure it would clear up soon, or you thought you would be fine without a visit, or even a call or email.

We all do this – rationalize our way out of doctors’ appointments we don’t want to go to, condition or not. Healthy people do it because they think they don’t need to. We do it because it seems trivial compared with the stuff we deal with daily.

I once ignored the need for a GP. But my specialist got tired of treating my sniffles and coughs. He gave me the information for his GP with the thought that sending me to his doctor would get me over my pickiness. Well, it did, but I waited so long that the doctor he referred me to retired. It was sheer luck that the one who took his place was such a good fit for me.


I remember going in to see him for an ingrown cuticle. I felt like an idiot making a doctor’s appointment for a boo boo on my finger, but it was swollen and I had started avoiding using it when I typed. When I said that to my doctor, he laughed and asked me if it hurt. Of course it did, which was why I was there.

Or the time I had a sore throat for over three weeks. I had a fever for the first few days, but it went away and I didn’t check again. I thought the remaining symptoms were allergies, but I finally got tired of my usual haphazard mix of prescription and over-the-counter meds not working. Turns out the fever had never actually gone away. Which is not good.

You know how your body works, and you know when something isn’t right. Maybe a medication needs adjustment or your biorhythms have changed or you’re just not feeling well. Or you have a boo boo that won't go away. Give it a reasonable amount of time (a few days), and if whatever it is doesn’t show signs of recovering, get help to figure it out. The “normal” stuff always hits us harder because our immune systems are busy fighting themselves. Few armies can win a war on two fronts without help. That's what your doctor is there for, and it never hurts to ask.