My Story: Finding the Right Pain Doctor

My Story: Finding the Right Pain Doctor

We’ve all heard the term “soul mate” used when describing the person we’re meant to marry or be with for the rest of our lives. We go through great lengths to confirm that he/she is the one, and, if you’re like me, you have a list of qualities you look for in the person.

If you are a chronic pain sufferer, then finding the right doctor to care for you should be the same way.

Arlene Grau

Arlene Grau

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia a week before my 23rd birthday. The physician I saw was very cold and unsympathetic.

He casually told me, “There is no cure, you have two types of auto-immune diseases and here’s your prescription.”

When I began to cry, he left the room and said I could leave when I composed myself. Needless to say, after only seeing him a handful of times, I finally got “smart” and began my search for a new rheumatologist.

I found a very caring pain doctor from UCLA and spent almost 3 years under her care. However, I decided to get a second opinion when I was diagnosed with lupus in 2012, because by this time my list of auto-immune diseases had grown from two to five and my pain was out of control.

I was now suffering from lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, vasculitis, and Sjogren’s.

I currently see a rheumatologist from USC, and I can honestly say that I have never felt more comfortable or fully trusted by anyone in the medical field the way I trust him. He gives me his undivided attention no matter how busy his schedule is. He genuinely cares and wants to see me decrease the amount of medications I take, and he takes the time to explain new procedures or prescriptions to me.

I’m comfortable enough with him that if he was to suggest a medication that had severe side effects I would tell him “I’m not taking that” and he would work with me to find a more suitable alternative medication. He respects my boundaries and opinion when it comes to certain painkillers, because he knows my biggest fear is becoming dependent or addicted to those drugs. I email him anytime I have a question or start to flare up and he always gets back to me right away.

A physician should listen to you and take your concerns seriously, make you feel so comfortable that you can tell them anything, and most importantly be sensitive about what you’re going through.

Just because you’re referred to a certain specialist or doctor for your chronic pain or disease, doesn’t mean he/she is the only doctor out there. It may take a few visits to find out if they’re the right match for you or you may need to look around and see what else is out there. Like the saying goes, “There’s plenty of fish in the sea.” But in this case, there’s plenty of doctors.

My doctor makes me feel like there is hope for the future, like I’m the only patient he’s focused on when I go in for my appointment. I completely trust his judgment because I know he cares about me as a person. If you wouldn’t spend the rest of your life married to someone who doesn’t meet your standards, then why would settle for anything less than greatness when it comes to choosing your physician?

We as patients have a job to do as well. We shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions and demand answers from our physicians. When you find one that allows that, you probably have your medical soul mate!

IMG_20130519_045058 (2)Arlene Grau lives in Lakewood, California with her family.

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The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that!  It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.

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arlene Grau

Daniel Arkfeld in rheumatology


great article. who is your doc at USC?

arlene Grau

Thank you all for the support!


A real physician/patient relationship as you described is very laudable , mutual respect and understanding, as well as the doctor ‘s compassion and encouragement are very important.
Bless you and best wishes for your continued quest for all who suffer fibromyalgia.


Darn proud of you girl. Keep that positive attitude. Blessings


Good that you are sharing this. Strength to you and your family. Respect from a fellow traveller.