Doctor, Is It Serious?

By Katherine Koberg August 1, 2013 Published in the August 2013 issue of Seattle Met

My husband and I were at home getting ready to leave for the airport to board a plane to Paris a few years ago, and suddenly he got a weird expression on his face and dropped down in a chair. His heart was racing. Here’s what flashed through my mind: He hates to fly, it must be an anxiety attack. No way will we cancel the trip. Then, this could be really serious—maybe we should we call 911. Nah. Let’s not overreact. Here’s what he thought: I’m dying. 

It’s easy to go a little nuts when it comes to our own health. And often hard to know whether it would be embarrassing or prudent to call the doctor. So it’s appropriate that our annual Top Doctors and Nurses issue includes a modern tale of symptoms, anxieties, and Internet research, on page 72 by Seattle Met senior editor James Ross Gardner. 

Every year when we survey Seattle’s medical professionals, we incorporate suggestions and feedback from the years before. As a result, in the last eight years, we have added naturopaths and nurse practitioners, included complementary medicine, and recategorized specialties to more accurately reflect the way medicine is practiced. We still ask the same basic question: “If you or a loved one needed medical care, which doctor would you call?” But this year, in our continuing goal to provide the best possible resource, research editor Karen Taylor Quinn helped revamp the nomination process with a new, secure online voting system that discourages ballot stuffing. More importantly, we enlisted an anonymous, independent panel of doctors and nurses from local hospitals, clinics, and practices to vet the final selections and share their expertise. Their informed contributions allowed us to go deeper into the list of nominees and provide even more names of people who provide outstanding medical care. 

As further testament to the dedication of professionals who practice medicine in Seattle, we invited some of the top doctors on our list to share stories from the front lines of health care. It’s impossible to read the firsthand accounts of an oncologist providing end-of-life care or a pulmonary surgeon who personally flew to Alaska on 9/11 to retrieve organs and then perform life-saving surgery all in one day without being impressed and grateful for the high level of care we enjoy in Seattle. 

As for that trip to Paris, we got on the plane anyway and enjoyed a very nice vacation without further incident (maybe France’s heart-healthy red wine helped). And when we came home, several episodes of accelerated heartbeat, trips to the doctor, and heart monitoring later, my husband began taking medication to manage a heart condition. So, yes, the symptoms were real. And I’m grateful to live in a city where my husband can be treated by one of our many careful, caring cardiologists.


Published: August 2013
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