I have been getting allergy shots at a local group allergy practice, headed by Dr. R.
I actually have an ugly history with this place.
In 2002, I got allergy shots for awhile from Dr. T. I get somewhat sick for several days after each shot, but Dr. T finagled me up to concentrate on my non-molds vial - the one with dog in it. He felt that people tend to have worse reactions to the shots with mold allergens, so he was keeping the doses from the molds vial low and raising the doses just on the non-molds vial.
Dr. T told me once that I would never get anywhere if I got allergy shots from Dr. R's practice, because they wouldn't do any finagling of the dosages - they would raise doses from both vials in lockstep. He told me "I don't think much of that place".
His prediction came true, and it was a DISASTER in my life.
Dr. T relocated to Missouri, and I ended up getting allergy shots at Dr. R's practice (I live in a small town and there isn't much choice of allergists).
I got allergy shots there for 5 years, from 2003-2007. For the whole time I was at the starting dosage, and later, even more diluted - because they would only mindlessly raise the dosage from my two vials in lockstep.
Eventually, they stopped my shots.
That was a fucking disaster. Soon after that, I became chronically ill without knowing why. My mind wasn't working, I could hardly think, and I had little energy physically, either.
How I felt was fairly consistent with how allergies make me feel - but my allergy testing gradually went negative over that time. I saw some allergists as well as other doctors, but no answers. The allergists discouraged me from investigating allergies as the cause of my illness.
After being sick for 4 years, I finally figured out by doing experiments that I had developed a severe allergy to my dog, who was living in my house. Even though my allergy tests were negative.
Dr. T had gotten me up to concentrate on the vial with dog allergen, and if I'd been able to continue getting shots from him, I would likely have been up to maintenance on the allergy shots with dog allergen and it's very unlikely my dog allergy would have exploded the way it did.
I had to move out of my house, I ended up renting a new mobile home in a no-dogs park, which has been pretty good for allergies.
I found an excellent allergist in NYC who was willing to help me with allergy shots, even with negative allergy tests - although when I went there to get tested, I found that some of my allergies did show up in the allergy testing. I think that was because I'd been doing all I could to avoid allergen exposure.
Last February, I started getting allergy shots locally, at Dr. S's office. With additional medications, and finagling the shot dosages for myself, I was able to make a lot of progress on the shot dosages.
Then Dr. S pulled this ugly maneuver of charging me $262 to have his nurse do a Xolair injection for me - price for the injection only, not including the drug! I only found out about the price hike later, and he refused to adjust the overcharges that had been done without notice.
That was too much to put up with.
So, I started getting allergy shots at Dr. R's practice again, the big group allergy practice that had allowed allergies to destroy my life, by stopping my shots.
Only to find out that they won't let me do the finagling that helps me advance with the shots! It's too much work for them, they say. And against their policy.
For example, I get shots from 3 allergy vials one day of the week. One time, I asked to keep the dosage from one of the vials the same as the previous week, and increase the other two.
They refused, and one doctor even attacked me for asking for such things. As if I were being some kind of princess, rather than desperately trying to get over my allergies as fast as possible!
Yesterday I talked it over with Dr. R in an office visit.
First, I told him in detail just how bad my allergy situation is.
Then I told him - by the time my hazy feeling from shots is mild enough that I can increase the dosages, I have no other reactions besides haziness. No skin reactions, no abdominal pain, nothing. (I do have skin reactions etc. just after stepping up the shot dosages.) The hazy feeling isn't medically dangerous - it doesn't imply a risk of anaphylaxis, breathing problems or anything scary like that.
Being hazy could be dangerous if it were so bad that I was in danger riding my bicycle around - but I don't let the haziness get that bad.
So I told Dr. R - look, I'm forced to be very conservative with my progress with the shots, because of the hazy feeling. I'm not running any risk of having scary reactions. So it doesn't make sense to impose additional restrictions in the name of safety. I said, why don't you just let me manage my own haziness reactions, by doing what I like with the dosages (within the limits of the schedule).
My good allergist in NYC doesn't object to me raising the dose on one vial and not others. This Dr. R is imposing such restrictions ... only because it's their policy!
He told me he understood what I said and he agreed with me - but he wouldn't let me finagle with allergy shots dosages - and his only reason is, it's their policy! FUCK their stupid fucking policy.
I told him his cookbook policies with allergy shots were (part of) why my allergies turned into a disaster.
He said "90% of our patients have no problem with the shots". I said, you're abandoning patients with more difficult problems. He said "we're not abandoning you". I said, "you certainly did abandon me!".
And actually, it DOES matter for me to be able to be flexible with the shots, now. Dr. R's practice had forced me stay at the same dosages with some molds and pollens. I have been having a mild chronic allergic reaction, probably from the fall ragweed. Having allergic reactions probably makes the shots more difficult to tolerate. And building up my tolerance to various molds might be important for me to be able to move back into my house, too.
So yes, while not quite abandoning me with their rigid policies now - they are still interfering and unreasonably hampering my progress. I asked Dr. R - doesn't it bother you as a doctor, that you aren't helping some patients with more difficult problems?
Dr. R runs his practice as a fucking business. He can make plenty of money from the 90% of patients who are OK with his expedited cookbook methods. And the other 10% of patients? He doesn't seem to care.
He claimed that my good allergist in NYC did the shots differently because he was an ENT. I told him that my good allergist is not an ENT - not a surgeon, but rather a medical sinusitis specialist.
I told him Dr. S was willing to be flexible with the shots. So, he said maybe I should go back to Dr. S.
Or otherwise, go elsewhere.
I told him his people had attacked me for my requests for flexibility.
I called his practice a "lean mean machine" at one point. He bridled at that - but, it is entirely appropriate!
I told Dr. R that I'd found another place to give me allergy shots. It's a family practice, and they said if my allergist in NYC makes clear what is OK, they will do it.
But, this place is 8 miles away. That's going to be a bit difficult at times. I'll likely be riding my bike in the rain sometimes, but I bought a bike poncho. And, it will be getting cold soon, I'm going to have to get some more gear to bike safely 8 miles in the winter. I can take a taxi on really bad days.
Dr. R's place is only about 3 miles away, that's part of the appeal.
Dr. R said at one point, if I make any special requests, the nurse has to see a doctor for approval.
I told him, I have to ride my bike 8 miles to this family medicine practice that says they'll do what my allergist in NYC asks. I said, that's much farther than I have to go to your place.
But, Dr. R's nurses sometimes having to ask a doctor for approval of special requests, matters more to him than me having to ride my bicycle for 10 extra miles.
I'll be paying more for the shots at the family medicine place, but it's worth it to me.
My allergist in NYC is technically skilled. He's very knowledgeable about sinusitis in general.
But, the main thing that's special about him is that he actually cares enough to help me! He's willing to do things in a not-totally-standard way because he wants to help me.
And I have to say, I agree with what Dr. T said so many years ago, about Dr. R's practice: YUCK. I expect better from doctors than running their practice like a business. I expect doctors to care about their difficult patients, and try to help them as well! Not just help the easy patients!
I've thought about giving myself more options by buying a car. Even though I really dislike owning and driving such a big, wasteful and dangerous machine. These problems have happened because I live in a small town. Many people would just find another place to get their allergy shots, and they would drive to it.
But, I would be worried about driving to & from allergy shots because of my haziness after shots. Perhaps if I were used to driving, I would be OK with driving while hazy. It's a bit like driving while mildly tipsy.
Actually, riding my bike 8 miles to this family medicine place for my shots, feels good to my spirit. The wind in my face, the clean rain sometimes.