When you have Meniere’s disease, finding a great doctor can be extremely challenging.
It’s such a devastating disorder, and its rarity renders most general practitioners, and even many specialists, inexperienced at treatment. And that’s unfortunate because it’s way too easy to lose hope without proper medical care and guidance.
If you know you have Meniere’s disease then you already know what it means to suffer. A diagnosis is only possible by ruling out all other known causes of your symptoms. The diagnosis gives your suffering a name and context, but it’s only step one.
Step two is setting yourself up for success, and finding the right doctor is possibly the single most important thing you can do. Your doctor’s personality and mindset can make or break you. The right doctor can be the force necessary to move you toward acceptance and health. The wrong doctor can be your undoing.
Start by answering a few simple questions about your current doctor:
- How is your doctor’s bedside manner? Did he approach your case with compassion and kindness?
- My first doctor definitely didn’t. It caused me a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering.
- Your doctor needs to have a good bedside manner; it’s crucial to your road to recovery.
- After you saw your doctor, were you left with a feeling of hope or hopelessness?
- The answer speaks to your doctor’s mindset and, as a consequence, your mindset.
- If your doctor does not leave you feeling hopeful, find a new doctor.
- Did your doctor answer all of your questions?
- It’s important to feel that your doctor is on your team.
- If he isn’t supportive in this way, you may be left feeling like you’re all alone.
- Lastly, how did you feel when you left from your appointment?
- If you felt unsettled or unsure about your doctor in any way, don’t hesitate to find a new one.
The Right Doctor Can Change Everything:
My first doctor was terrible. I left his office a miserable wreck, overwhelmed by fear and confusion. But my second doctor was incredibly kind and compassionate. He was patient with me and answered all of my questions. He saw that I was scared and painted a picture of an optimistic future. He explained that while there were many lifestyle changes I should make to help manage my symptoms, there was no need to think anything needed to be permanent.
He explained that the disease tends to change, and while that could be for the worse, it could also be for the better. He recounted the successful stories of several of his patients. He reassured me that if I was able to get a handle on my symptoms, there was no reason to expect to lose my hearing, that everything would be okay. Without question, he saved my life.
He filled me with the hope I desperately needed. I now saw potential where there was once only fear. He showed me my situation through a new lens, a new mindset. He gave me my power back. It brings tears to my eyes thinking back to this defining moment in my life. It was like a light switch went on in my brain. Meniere’s disease would never define me. It didn’t have the power anymore. It makes me shudder to think of what the shape of my life might have looked like had I never met this man. Finding the right doctor literally changed everything for me.
How to Find The Right Doctor:
Let’s start with the basics. A physician who specializes in treating conditions affecting the ears, nose and throat is known as an otolaryngologist, or ENT for short. The problem is that many ENTs do not have a lot of experience, if any, in treating Meniere’s disease. The good news is that some ENTs go on to sub-specialize further. ENTs who sub-specialize in treating neurological conditions of the inner ear, or in other words, balance and hearing disorders, are called Neurotologists. This is the type of specialist you want to see. They will have the most experience treating Meniere’s disease by far. The winning combination to look for is a Neurotologist with a great personality.
Over the last several years, doctor rating websites have sprung up all over the internet. However, one stands out above the rest: Healthgrades.
Not only can you search for doctors by location and specialty, but you can find patient satisfaction information as well. Patients fill out anonymous surveys that cover the entirety of their experience with a doctor. Healthgrades combines all of this data into a 5-star rating system, just like you would find on Amazon.com. You can also find information on the doctor’s practice, facilities, possible malpractice suits, awards they’ve won, the conditions they treat, and much more.
It’s an empowering website. If I had known about Healthgrades sooner, I could have easily found the low rating of my first doctor. It would have saved me considerable pain. Search for Neurotologists in your area, but be sure to check their rating and if they list Meniere’s disease under the conditions they treat.
If there are none in your area, you may have travel. But before you do, you can try calling highly rated Neurotologists in other areas and ask if they can refer you to a good local ENT. Some ENT’s are in fact experienced in treating Meniere’s disease, they’re just harder to find.
Patient referrals are a valuable resource, too. If you have already found a great doctor, leave a comment below!