Thursday Health Thoughts: Doctors out of State/Country Series- Part One:Making the Decision to go out of state/country

May 29, 2014

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Happy Thursday y'all!! I am so excited to kick off this new six part series on Thursdays dealing with topics related to seeing doctors out of state or country. In the following weeks I will be talking about this subject (and sharing some of my own experiences) and am excited to have several guest bloggers who have chosen this option for various reasons and are going to share their experiences too! Here is the list of the topics for the coming weeks:

So lets get started! Today I want to talk about making the decision to go out of state or country to see a doctor. (Side note: No offense to any of my doctors but NONE of them have ever looked like Dr. Avery from Grey's Anatomy!*smiles*But this single gal can dream right? Either way I hope it brings a smile to your face! *smiles*)

So what are the reasons for making the decision to go out of state or country for your illness? Here are just a few:

(one) Sometimes in your health journey you come to the point where you realize that due to where you live you might not have the best option for a doctor for your particular disease or illness. I think that to a lot of people who are usually healthy this never even crosses their radar. Honestly, it would never have crossed mine if I hadn't been sick. Many people (including myself) have done research and have found that there local GP's (general practitioner's), hospitals, surgeon's, etc. are very qualified and competent people. And they typically are. But the reality is that for many people, including myself, staying local to get well was not an option. 

When I was first diagnosed with Lyme Disease  I researched thoroughly (and visited) the local hospitals, doctors, specialists (in infectious disease), etc. Unfortunately I kept hearing the same thing: "Lyme Disease doesn't exist in the south". (I should state that my local paper just this week stated that ticks have now traveled south this year. Do NOT even get me started on this.) So in my case I wasn't just fighting a disease alone I was fighting the culture's general thought that while we live near the Smokey Mountains and while ticks can destroy a person's life, they are also smart enough to not cross state borders, be attached to travelers who have hiked the Appalachian trail, been attached to animals that have traveled south, etc. (Yes, I am being completely sarcastic.) But just like my battle with endometriosis I had a choice. I could use my limited energy on being angry and irritated or I could put that little energy into finding a doctor to help me get well. I chose the later and I would recommend anyone to do so also.

As I searched for a doctor I did try to remain "somewhat local". I tried to make an appointment at hospitals in my "area" (within 250 miles) and even called around to different doctors within my state but hours away. I finally expanded my search to include all of the states around me (which included Duke Hospital). While I had been initially seen at Duke, my diagnosis came from a different practitioner and I had to make a new patient appointment. Guess what? I still have that appointment at Duke... for 2015!!! After THIRTY-THREE (yes, you read that correctly) doctors in my city told me that they couldn't help me, the news that I would have to wait two more years for an appointment at Duke, and major hospitals in my surrounding area telling me they had no answers I expanded my search across the United States. 

Some people called it desperate. Others thought I was insane. Others told me that I didn't have enough "faith" that God could heal me where I was at. And there were tons of other comments. But as I researched and called 78 doctors who were treating Lyme across the United States I became even more sure that this was the right decision. As a believer I was praying for wisdom and I do believe that going out to California last year for treatment saved my life. The reality was that the doctors in my local area were just not equipped to deal with the disease that I am fighting. 

(two) Sometimes in your health journey you come to the point where need to find a specialist. While you may have the options and opportunities to find a specialist in your area, you may decide that you need to find a specialist. The reality is that "specialists" just don't exist in every single town or state (or even in the country!). Due to this you might, after researching decide that you need to add a specialist into the equation - whether that is a long-term solution for the foreseeable future (as mine is) or just to see a couple of times in your health journey. Don't be afraid to "think outside of the box". (I have permission to share the following story.) I had a friend who was desperately trying to find answers to her infertility issues. After traveling to several different states across America and finding no help she was at a complete loss of what to do. "Randomly" she came across a book in a used book store while she was on vacation written by a doctor who runs a health and fertility clinic in England. After reading the book, doing a ton of different research, having several skype conversations with the doctor, and talking to former patients she and her husband went over to England. Two trips and seven years later she and her husband are now the proud parents of four kiddos. As she has often said to me, "I saw tons of specialists in my city, state, and country. But the key was in England where a lady understood my specific history and also had training that was done in a university outside of the USA. She had been taught a completely different approach then what my specialists here in America were saying. If I had never taken the risk and flown to England I would never have realized that there is a whole big world out there with tons of different thoughts and ideas."

(three) Sometimes in your health journey you come to the point where need to find someone who has had unique training. Similar to what my friend shared above, you sometimes need to find someone who hasn't been trained at the University of __________ for their undergrad and medical school. Does this make them less qualified? ABSOLUTELY not. Does this mean that they are not someone I would go to? ABSOLUTELY not. But sometimes you need to know more than just your particular state or countries knowledge. Several years ago when I was diagnosed with CFS & Fibromyalgia I went to one of the leading health centers on Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia for treatment. (I was blessed to have one of the six centers in the US in my particular city at the time.) I definitely am grateful for everything that happened there and in many ways the $7,000 that I ended up paying was worth every penny. BUT as I moved home last year and sought additional answers as my health continued to fail I needed help beyond what I was receiving. I read more and more books on CFS and Fibromyalgia and it wasn't until I came across a book last year from a doctor in Canada written in 2010 that I learned some new things that had never been told to me before! This doctor (and some of her staff) have traveled WORLD WIDE to conferences, doctors clinics, wellness institutes, etc. and have discovered some incredible ideas. I called them up, had an appointment with one of the clinics (over the phone) and honestly saw several of my CFS/Fibro symptoms disappearing over the course of a few short weeks. These same symptoms hadn't disappeared in my entire treatment over 9 months at the clinic. And get this? The one thing that helped the most was a tip that the doctor had learned at a conference in Jordan, from a "tribal doctor" from Africa! WOW! This unique training has helped me IMMEASURABLY even as I fight my other illnesses. 

(four)Sometimes in your health journey you need to have an opinion of someone "out of the picture". Over the years I have had numerous friends travel to a "major" hospital (and I myself have done so too) such as Mayo, MD Anderson, Mass General, John Hopkins, etc. The truth is that some of these research hospitals have equipment or tests or the latest research that might help your situation. You definitely deserve a second (or third or 50th!) opinion and don't be afraid to choose someone completely out of the picture.

(five) Sometimes in your health journey you need to have surgery. I have had several surgeries and two of them have been local to where I live and two were out of state. If you read my endometriosis story then you know my experience with that was absolutely wonderful. I have traveled to a doctor out of state for surgery and have had several friends who have done so. NONE of us regrets it. Sometimes this is an excellent option so don't be afraid to think "big spectrum" on this. 

Thanks so much for reading y'all! I hope that this series will be a help to you or a friend! Next Thursday I will be talking about "how to go about finding a doctor out of state or country"! Happy Thursday y'all! 


  1. You are always full of so much great info! What a great series!

  2. Awesome series! And I love that you used a picture of Jackson Avery, one of my favorites from Grey's :)