Patient Doctor DifferencesWhen do you divorce your doctor?

Regardless of whether the initials after the name read LCSW, Ph.D. or MD, the painful reality is that sometimes you’ve got to get out for the sake of your own well-being.

Skydivers call it a cut-away. When a parachute fails, they open what once were (and maybe still are) called Capewell releases on the harness in order to detach the main canopy. Then they deploy the reserve chute. It’s a scary maneuver, but jumpers are trained how to perform it. You and I are on our own. If there are any rules for us when it comes to cutting away, I’ve never seen them.

Don’t get me wrong. My doctor is a squared-away guy. In the past 18 months he has done a lot of good for me, and, in the words of an old Broadway tune, “no fits, no fights, no feuds, and no ego.” Except on one point: medication. I think I need to up the dosage. He disagrees. And I’m hurting.

There’s nothing special about my situation. I’ve been accurately diagnosed with severe unipolar depression. For the most part, my meds have kept a handle on it (along with psychotherapy from another source, back when I could afford it). But, as everyone in my category knows, The Beast returns periodically, and sometimes it has blood in its eye. For these times, at least, I’d like the option using fractionally more of the antidepressant in the hope of obtaining some relief.

Concerned about side effects, and conservative anyway when it comes to meds (not a bad quality, really), Doc tells me to hang tough. The episode will pass, and of course he’s right. And because he knows my history, he knows I’m capable of hanging tough.

Still, The Beast is a hellish burden to carry around for an indefinite though unquestionably finite number of days. Every morning feels like the equivalent of facing an IRS audit, and that’s a lousy way to begin the day. This Thing seems so monstrous and so huge that it’s impossible to ignore or bypass so that you can get on with your life. I’m not one to espouse better living through chemistry, but I have to believe there’s an alternative to simply endure the status quo. That’s what I did for the years prior to evaluation and diagnosis. Naturally I could simply increase my daily dosage on my own and see what happens, but the increased consumption would surface when it came time for a refill.

Doctors and lawyers don’t like to second-guess or supersede their peers, but something inside tells me I’m entitled to a second opinion. Like, today.