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Assembling a trusted team of healthcare professionals is a tricky endeavor for even the healthiest individuals. When it comes to finding the right doctor’s for a chronic diagnosis, who will be right for you while also being the correct fit for your already existing lineup, drafting, trading, and releasing doctors from your team can become even muddier. I am a huge fan of baseball, and with the season officially starting up this month, I thought I would share this trick I came up with to manage my team.

When I was first diagnosed, Jake Diekman was a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies (my home team), and he had just started the Gut It Out Foundation.  I bought a shirt right away, and decided Diekman was my favorite player. Although he has moved on from Philadelphia, he still holds a special place on my one participant Fantasy Team roster. I also like to give him credit for my way of understanding the makeup of my healthcare team.

You see, I visualize my group of doctors and healthcare professionals as a baseball diamond. I have the pitcher, the heavy hitter, the in-fielders, and the outfielders. When I set up my team I made my Gastroenterologist the pitcher, and continued to assign rank and involvement to my other doctors as I labeled out the diamond. This is to say that your personal baseball diamond can end up looking a lot different than mine.

Below I have attached a picture of the Baseball Diamond Template I made on Word to illustrate my team. Each team member is labeled from 1 to 9 to show their rank of importance for my individual healthcare journey:

 

 

 

 

Based on my original template I filled in the spaces with the providers I prioritized in my personal healthcare journey.

I have the Pitcher labeled as my Gastroenterologist because this doctor is the most important on my roster. My wellbeing relies primarily on this teammate because they help me manage my medication and symptoms. I have this doctor send all lab work to my Primary Care Physician.

My Catcher helps dictate the whole game that is being played and is my family Primary Care Physician. Because my Catcher aids my Pitcher, this doctor keeps me up to date on vaccines, routine blood work, and other medications I may need that are not from specialists. I have my PCP send all test results to my Gastroenterologist as well.

In the 1st base slot, I put my Gynecologist. I have her up so high on my list because she routinely checks me for any irregular activity around my reproductive organs. As a female assigned at birth, and as my preferred gender, I have had thoughts of becoming a mom, and I like to make sure that my body is in the best shape to eventually carry children. Much like a first base player, this doctor always has an eye on the hitter, and has a very short area of ground to cover. This teammate always makes sure I am taking care of my body and that my medicines are working for me and not against me.

On 3rd base, I chose my Dermatologist. The “hot corner” is definitely a good place for this doctor to reside. A lot of the medications I have taken for my IBD can have an effect on my skin, and make me more susceptible to develop skin cancer if I do not properly apply sun blockers. I also have found that I develop rashes from certain medications I am on and this doctor helps me regulate those issues. This particular doctor has helped me with a lot of my worst symptoms from meds and disease and has a huge range of abilities.

At 2nd base I roughed in my Hematologist. Much like a 2nd base player, Hematologists are quick to respond to issues. They have the ability to help IBD patients with a range of issues like iron infusions for Anemia, or B-12 shots for vitamin deficiencies. Although I don’t see my Hematologist often, this doctor is an important part of my team.

For Shortstop, I put my most accurate teammate, my Opthamologist. My eye doctor is in charge of making sure that my overall eye health is good, while also notating anything that may become an issue due to my IBD diagnosis. I see my Opthamologist once a year, but his position on my team is irreplaceable.

In Left Field, I have slotted in my Dentist. Left field doesn’t need the best arm in the world, but their position coincides with your 3rd baseman and Shortstop. IBD can sometimes affect the mouth. Much like Dermatologists and Opthamologists, IDB patients don’t usually see these doctor’s often, maybe 1 to 2 times a year depending on check-up schedules, but the overall health of your teeth and gums is important because of symptoms from your disease and medications.

For Center Field, I placed my GI Surgeon. We do not meet often at all, and this doctor’s primary job is to reactively help me in case of progression of my disease where surgery is needed. This position supports the whole team and has to be ready to act quickly. Some of the best players in baseball history were Center Fielders, and some of the best doctors you’ll have on your team are surgeons.

And last, but certainly not least, I have my Infusion Center Team on as my Right Fielder. Right Field players have to be sharp, and strong. They are called upon to make the power plays, just like Nurses at Infusion Centers. Nurses are amazing individuals, no matter where they are working, and we as patients owe them so much. They have steady hands, steady hearts, and strong wills.

To better showcase my lineup, I created my own Baseball Diamond, “The HuffleButts”

Michelle Rynkewicz is a 10 year Crohn’s Warrior. She is currently living in PA with her husband and cat. Michelle enjoys trying flare free recipes, traveling to new places, and crocheting.
A IS FOR ADVOCATING! Eating Disorders and IBD

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