I get a ton of people landing on my blog after searching for “ankylosing spondylitis doctor seattle” or “lisa davison seattle” or “rheumatologist seattle.” I’m afraid they’re ending up with outdated information, so today I’m going to talk about doctors: who I see, and why.
1. General Practitioner
I used to see Dr. (Sari) Lisa Davison. However, last year I was REALLY sick with severe lung issues. I kept going in to see her because I couldn’t breathe, and she kept putting me on different asthma treatments. I told her I was pretty sure it wasn’t asthma, and that something else was wrong. She declined to refer me out to a specialist, and continued prescribing inhalers and steroids. Finally, I couldn’t catch my breath and I called her yet again. She told me to go to the ER, as she couldn’t do anything for me. I felt, by this time, like she thought I was faking it all. When I got to the ER, my oxygen saturation was low, my heart rate was high, and my BP was very high (normal for me is 80/60 and it was in the neighborhood of 150/120)
The ER doctors treated the immediate issue, ran a ton of tests, and referred me on an emergency basis to a pulmonologist, who saw me the next day and ended up diagnosing a rare obstructive pulmonary disease called Bronchilitis Obliterans with Organizing Pneumonia. Dr Davison billed me for all the visits in which she failed to refer me out, not even cutting me a break when I had to keep coming in due to her errors. She was rude and dismissive, and basically washed her hands of me. I currently have a “generic GP” I picked from the offices where my pulmonologist works, and I’ve seen him only once, so I really have no opinion one way or the other on him.
Bottom line, she doesn’t listen when a patient tells her “I know my body and something is wrong.”
My pulmonologist is Dr. Derel Finch at Minor and James Medical Center in Seattle. He’s fantastic! Truly a great doctor. He explains what he’s doing and why, and listened when I told him I didn’t think I had asthma. He figured out the puzzle of my lungs quickly, and ordered me on bedrest for nearly 3 months to recover. It was almost relieving when he told me that he had patients in the hospital who were less sick than I was. There was something very validating about hearing that from him when I felt so very sick and the previous doctor had blown me off and made me feel like a hypochondriac.
I wasn’t happy with Dr. Steven Overman at the Seattle Arthritis Clinic. He wasn’t willing to be aggressive about getting my arthritis under control. He also didn’t believe I had been as sick as I was telling him, and refused to read the notes from Dr. Finch. In addition, he changed my diagnosis from visit to visit, one time confirming that I had Ankylosing Spondylitis (which had been diagnosed 10 years ago, and is without a doubt what I have) and then the next time saying I didn’t have anything wrong with me that losing weight wouldn’t fix. When I told him I’d been on a serious fitness plan before getting sick with my lungs, he said I probably overdid it and just got tired of working out. (I did not. Working out is something I truly look forward to, and crave) He opined that there was nothing wrong with my lungs and that I was exaggerating how ill I’d been, and that I am just lazy and don’t want to be well.
Dr Finch (Pulmonologist) referred me to a Rheumatologist in his office, Dr. Natalia Tishkevich. She’s been nothing short of wonderful. She not only reaffirmed my original diagnosis of AS, she also said I have plenty of the criteria to be diagnosed with Lupus, but that she’s not going to put it in my chart as it won’t change how she’s treating me and will potentially cause insurance issues if I ever have to buy my own. So she put me on a medication that works for both AS and Lupus. I’ve been on it nearly a year and never felt better. My joints are mostly good, and while I still have some amount of stiffness and pain, it’s not nearly like it was. She also respects the fact that I’m not interested in narcotic pain medications if I can avoid them, as I have a job that requires me to be mentally sharp at all times. I’ve recommended her to a couple of friends, and they love her as much as I do.
So, there you have it.
It may seem as though I’ve had a lot of bad doctors. I’ve had a couple who were bad enough that my health got worse while I was seeing them. Fortunately, I’ve also had some really great ones, who have helped me manage my illnesses and feel the best I can feel. It’s unfortunate that those of us with serious illnesses have to work so hard to find a doctor who will listen and help. It makes trying to get healthy very much more difficult than it should ever be, and perpetuates the myth that people who are sick *want* to be sick in some way.