LeeAnn Beitko gives us a patient’s perspective on healthcare on this episode of the Perspectives on Healthcare podcast with Rob Oliver. LeeAnn was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis and rheumatoid arthritis several years ago. It was a long process to reach the correct diagnosis. She is from my hometown of White Oak, Pennsylvania. Her story and insights are fascinating. This is interview 46 in the patient’s perspective interview Marathon.
Here are 3 things that stood out as LeeAnn Beitko shared a patient’s perspective on healthcare:
- Sometimes just getting the correct diagnosis takes forever. LeeAnn was not feeling well but could not get any resolution to what was causing her discomfort. It took almost 10 years to finally get a diagnosis.
- Sometimes, medical professionals are dismissive of patient’s input and feedback. Several of her doctors attributed her tiredness to simply having children. This oversimplification was frustrating as she realized there was a difference between what she was feeling and the fatigue of dealing with everyday life.
- Quality healthcare means not giving up. It is imperative that medical professionals continue to work with their patients until there is a successful resolution to their situation. LeeAnn was thankful for a doctor that continued to work with her even when test results were coming back normal.
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Here is the transcript of LeeAnn Beitko sharing a patient’s perspective on healthcare:
Introduction to LeeAnn Beitko
Rob Oliver: Wonderful. Welcome to the podcast, my friend. How are you?
LeeAnn Beitko: I am well, how are you?
Rob Oliver: Good. I’m doing well myself.
LeeAnn Beitko: Good.
Rob Oliver: So, can you please tell everyone, what is your name?
LeeAnn Beitko: My name is LeeAnn Beitko.
Rob Oliver: And Leanne, where are you located?
LeeAnn Beitko: I am located in White Oak, Pennsylvania.
Rob Oliver: All right. And you are not exactly a neighbor of mine, but we live in the same town.
LeeAnn Beitko: Yes.
Rob Oliver: It’s wonderful to have you here. Thanks for joining me.
LeeAnn Beitko: I’m glad you asked me to do this.
Rob Oliver: Yep. So, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your background with healthcare?
LeeAnn Beitko: Well, so I am 54 years old and I was diagnosed about maybe 15 years ago with rheumatoid arthritis and myasthenia gravis. It was a long process getting the diagnosis. And, you know, it was a struggle. It, you know, had an impact on my life, on my family’s life. Just trying to get somebody to listen. You know, at that time, I had four children of a young age. And, you know, when I would go in and give them my symptoms of saying, you know, I’m just so tired. I just I feel so weak. I have no energy. The first thing they would say, well, hey, you’ve got four kids, you know. Of course, you’re tired. And I, you know, was trying to convey that it was a different type of tired, but it was a struggle.
Rob Oliver: OK, so when you say it took a while to get the diagnosis, how long did that take?
LeeAnn Beitko: It was about 10 years, Rob, about 10 years before I got diagnosed because I would go to one doctor. And like I said, you know, they would say, well, you know, you’re tired because, you know, you have these kids you’re taking care of or you’re helping take care of your elderly parents or, you know. I mean, there’s always a reason why people are tired, of course. But like I said, I was trying to convey that this was a different type of tired. You know, I just couldn’t even stay awake. And I knew, you know, something was wrong. But other than trying to explain it in layman terms, you know, I didn’t know what was going on. And they would send me for a test and the test would come back. OK, you know, and so you go for so many of these tests and they keep coming back that everything’s fine. And then they start to look at you and say, well, are you sure you’re just not depressed? And I think to myself, I’m one of the happiest go lucky people in the world. How you know, I do not feel depressed at all, other than the fact that I can’t get anybody to listen or to come up with a plan or figure this out. You know, the test comes back that everything’s good. And they go, well, you know, we’ll see you in six months.
Rob Oliver: Right. It’s got to be so frustrating because like we all know tired.
LeeAnn Beitko: Yeah.
Rob Oliver: And you’re saying like, yeah, I have four kids. I know that tired.
LeeAnn Beitko: Right.
Rob Oliver: But but this is not that tired. Is that what you were saying?
LeeAnn Beitko: Yes. Yeah.
Rob Oliver: OK.
LeeAnn Beitko: Yeah.
Rob Oliver: Got it.
LeeAnn Beitko: I said, you know, I’m getting plenty of sleep. I’m sleeping well. But I get up and, you know, I walk to the bedroom to get the kids up, you know, and get breakfast started or something. And I would have to sit at the table and pretty much lay my head on the table, you know, after a full night’s rest. And I just did not have any strength. You know, I would sit down in a chair and I just felt like I couldn’t hold my body up. You know, it was something very hard to convey, you know. And, you know, then as things went on and they would ask some questions, you know, eventually after 10 years, you know, I did find a doctor who asked the right questions and, you know, things that I didn’t realize, you know, were symptoms that all came together. You know, I didn’t realize they were pertinent. So I didn’t mention some symptoms because I didn’t think they went together. You know.
Have you met any “Healthcare Heroes”?
Rob Oliver: So true. So along your health care journey, have you met anyone that you would classify as a health care hero?
LeeAnn Beitko: Yes. So for me, it was a rheumatologist that I went to. Her name was Lindsay Lidwich. She is out in Cranberry area right now. She was in Wexford when, well, first she was in Monroeville. Then she switched to Wexford. She’s now in Cranberry. I follow her wherever she goes.
Rob Oliver: Listen, LeeAnn, I know you and I love you. If I were her, I would keep moving closer to you instead of keep moving further and further away from you.
LeeAnn Beitko: Thank you, Rob.
Rob Oliver: No problem.
LeeAnn Beitko: She is trying to get away from me.
Rob Oliver: Yeah. So can you tell me a little bit more about her?
LeeAnn Beitko: Yeah. So she is a rheumatologist and I went to her and she diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis. And, you know, she had given me some medicines to try. They really didn’t seem to help much, but she kept listening. You know, she kept listening. And if she sent me for a test and the test came back fine, she said, OK, now we’re going to try this. She said, I think we’re on the right tree, but on the wrong branch. You know, and she never gave up. You know, there was one time when she said to me, you know, Leanne, do you think you’re just depressed or you’re sad because the kids are growing up and maybe they don’t need you as much now? You know, and I sat in her office and I like wanted to scream. And I said to her, listen, please listen, I am not depressed. I said, there is something else going on, you know. And she heard that from me. She was the first one to really hear that. And I could see tears in her eyes that I think she kind of felt bad, you know, for for saying it that way. And from then on, you know, she sent me for tests and finally got to the point where she said, you know, I think you need to see a neurologist. I think everything we’ve tried here and everything that I’m seeing, I think you now need to go to a neurologist. So she sent me to a neurologist. He then sent me to a neuromuscular neurologist. And that’s when we discovered that I had myasthenia bravis and they put me on a medication and my whole world changed.
Rob Oliver: Fantastic.
LeeAnn Beitko: So, I give her credit.
A Patient’s definition of quality healthcare
Rob Oliver: Yeah. So, Leanne, what does quality health care mean to you?
LeeAnn Beitko: I think just that, like, don’t give up, you know, don’t don’t get a test that comes back and everything looks fine. But your person still has the same symptoms, you know, so nothing has been solved on that visit. You know, and so many doctors are so quick to just say, well, you know, see in six months. Well, that six months to them is nothing. But you’re living your life still in a state that you cannot function well, you know, so that needs to be changed.
Rob Oliver: Yeah, it is. It’s amazing, you know, to hear you say that. And thank you for thank you for sharing that, because it’s something that’s lacking.
LeeAnn Beitko: Yeah.
What do you wish your medical providers understood about you?
Rob Oliver: So definitely. All right. What do you wish your medical providers understood about you?
LeeAnn Beitko: I’m sure it’s hard as a doctor to get to know all of your patients. You know, I know they’re very busy and they see, you know, many, many people. But I think if if you have a doctor that you go to, you know, and you’ve gone to for years, they should have some idea of who you are as a person. You know, are you a person who, you know, is so quick to take an aspirin because, you know, you have a slight pain? Or are you one to hold off on everything until, you know, the situation is dire and you have no other option? So I think getting to know your patients is part of it. And then I think, you know, same thing, just following through. I’m the type of person that if I’m in your office, I have tried everything on my own. I have exhausted different avenues to try and, you know, narrow down what is causing whatever illness I may have. You know, I probably tried over the counter medications or things like that. So if I am now in your office. I need you to know that I’m pretty bad because I’m not one to just come, you know.
Rob Oliver: Right. So you’re one of the people that you don’t make an appointment at the first sniffle.
LeeAnn Beitko: Right. Right.
Rob Oliver: Yeah.
LeeAnn Beitko: So if I’m here, I need your knowledge. You know, I need your knowledge as a doctor to help me figure out, you know, how I can make myself better.
Your suggestion for how medical professionals can improve the quality of healthcare
Rob Oliver: Got it. What is one thing medical professionals can start doing today to improve the quality of health care?
LeeAnn Beitko: Follow through, follow through, don’t wait those months in between each visit when those tests come back. You know, have plan B ready if that test comes back that, you know, it’s not showing up in your blood work. OK, I still have the same symptoms. What’s next?
Rob Oliver: OK. And I really appreciate what you said right there, because the question that you have. Is not answered by the. The question that you have is bigger than a single test. Right. So sometimes they’re looking at the test as the question. And when the answer comes back that it’s normal, then you say, OK, well, then then you’re normal and we’ll see in six months, as you said before. And you’re saying, but that test doesn’t answer the question. The question that still remains is. So why am I feeling this way? Why am I always tired? That it’s a bigger issue than just than just a single test.
LeeAnn Beitko: Right.
Rob Oliver: Does that resonate with you?
LeeAnn Beitko: Yes. Yes. Right now, actually, they say that myasthenia is not a progressive disease. OK. OK. For some reason, I’m progressing. OK, I’ve got to the point where, you know, I had to go and get approved for a scooter. I can do, you know, things around the house. I can do things where if I know how far my walk is going to be, you know, I can manage. But if I go to, you know, the zoo or a park or if I wanted to go to a mall, I can’t do that type of walking. OK, my walking ability is decreasing and I’m trying to find out why. Because if MG is not a progressive disease, why is it progressing? Then I now, you know, need the scooter to do things.
Rob Oliver: Yeah, it does bring up the possibility. Like, is there something else going on there as well? And right. Which puts you back to square one to say, OK, we need to start doing tests to figure out what’s going on. Listen, LeeAnn, thank you so much for being with me today. I appreciate you taking the time. I appreciate you sharing your story.
LeeAnn Beitko: Thank you, Rob.
Rob Oliver: I respect your perspective on health care. Thank you.
LeeAnn Beitko: Thank you. Thank you. And I wish you luck in doing this. And I think it’s a great thing that you’re doing. And I hope some good comes of it.
Rob Oliver: I appreciate that. And let me just say say hi to Doug and tell him we need to go get Bojangles sometime.
LeeAnn Beitko: Right.
Rob Oliver: See you later.
LeeAnn Beitko: Thanks, Rob.
Rob Oliver: Bye.
Disclaimer: All opinions expressed by guests on the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast are solely the opinion of the guest. They are not to be misconstrued as medical diagnoses or medical advice. Please consult with a licensed medical professional before attempting any of the treatments suggested.