Help me find a doctor for someone who hates doctors.
December 6, 2016 1:45 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a doctor in the Minneapolis area who is good at listening to patients and won't just band-aid symptoms.

My 30-year old husband has suffered from a variety of gastrointestinal issues since he was a kid, which were made a lot worse by a C. diff infection he picked up at a hospital urgent care 4 years ago. A series of unfortunate issues with doctors and growing up with a parent who also distrusts the medical profession have combined to make him very distrustful of doctors. He's exhausted and suffers GI distress every day, but each time he works up the courage to go see a doctor, they generally prescribe him yet another pill which does nothing. Which, of course, just makes him more distrustful of doctors. But he's not getting better on his own, so he's agreed to try again if we can find him a doctor who will actually listen to him.

So, fellow Twin Cities folks, do you know a great doctor who will listen to his history and really look into why he's so tired and sick?

FYI: If you're from around here, you might say "Go to Mayo Clinic!" He did that. They were not helpful. First they tried to make his symptoms match some weird syndrome they had heard about, and when the symptoms didn't match up, they decided he just had IBS and sent him away.
posted by cabingirl to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
Hi cabingirl, I'm sorry to hear that your husband is suffering so much, and for so long. I can't suggest any particular doctors, but I did want to offer my perspective, as both a doctor-in-training and a person with confusing health problems.

It's possible your husband doesn't have A Specific Disease with particular test results or treatment. (An example of this is IBS -- there are no real tests that make the diagnosis, just a constellation of symptoms, and treatment is a lot of medication trial-and-error and dietary changes.) I know many many doctors who aren't good at listening to their patients, but I don't think being prescribed a medication that didn't work or being told you have IBD is necessarily indicative of that. Did he return to the doctor(s) that prescribed medication to let them know that it wasn't working? Did the Mayo doctors offer any advice for treating the symptoms of IBD?
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 2:35 PM on December 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

I sent you a message.
posted by lindseyg at 3:05 PM on December 6, 2016

Ugh, I'm sorry that your husband is dealing with this. I'm not a doctor, but I feel like I have a surprising number of friends who have dealt with hard to diagnose gastro issues, and the best news that they ever seem to get is: ok, if I live my life with this set of food restrictions, I'm normally fine.

One such friend was a nurse at and saw a doctor at the Coon Rapids Gastroenterology Clinic. I don't know which was her doctor, but I do know that she was happy with her care (even though they were still trying to track down the underlying causes for her).

This is not an answer to your question, but how does your husband do with compliance to elimination diets when they are suggested? If he doesn't have this already, maybe going in to a new provider* with 1.) a list of meds that hadn't worked before, and 2.) a six month food & symptoms diary (including two months each of living, say, gluten-free, FODMAP free, and vegan), might get him a better diagnostic result?

*or better yet, returning to one of the ones who has seen him previously.
posted by sparklemotion at 3:06 PM on December 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had an excellent experience with the doctors at Minnesota Gastroenterology in St. Paul. We were dealing with pediatric doctors but I found both our regular doctor and the surgeon to be careful, thoughtful, good listeners and not dismissive of my concerns.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 4:35 PM on December 6, 2016

I don't have a specific doctor to recommend, but this is something he will probably need a regular "family practice" doctor to shepherd. Getting the right primary care physician to drive the process is going to be key, and it's probably going to take multiple visits to get things resolved.

In my experience, as tempting as it may be to head straight to a specialist, that'll probably just lead to more negative experiences. Get a good primary care physician on your side, and you'll get sent to the right specialists, and you'll have someone advocating for you and making sure nothing falls through the cracks.

Good luck!
posted by DaveP at 3:15 AM on December 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone for your responses. To answer a few questions: I left out a lot of detail about the Mayo visit and some of his other experiences, but he's had multiple doctor encounters that were super weird or dismissive. Just one data point to give some background: A doctor called ME at work because she wanted to put him on a 72-hour psych hold, after he cried in her office about being exhausted and sick all the time with an infant at home. He didn't threaten to hurt himself or anyone else, he just cried and wanted some help with his health. She put him on antidepressants and never addressed the GI issues, and his trust in her was destroyed, so he wasn't all that interested in following up. Mayo gave him nothing but "follow up with your regular doctor." And no one's ever suggested an elimination diet, even though it is a pretty logical step.

There are obviously a lot of things at play here, including his learning how to deal with a chronic health condition and coming to terms with that. We talked and it seemed best to find a new doctor to start fresh with, someone who can help us come up with a plan to improve how he feels and who will have ideas on new things to try. I'll follow up on the suggestions here.
posted by cabingirl at 8:42 AM on December 7, 2016

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