So, we have an elderly friend, MILlie, who moved into town a year ago. MILlie needs to go to a doctor. Instead of choosing from one of the thousands in San Antonio, she wants to see her former doctor. Which is fine. Except that he is 2 hours away. And MILlie doesn’t drive. For a recap of the beginning of this story, you can go here.
After finally getting the doctor’s correct name from MILlie, assuring her that I did, indeed, intend to have her accompany me on the trip, doing an internet search, calling a wrong number that directed me to the right number, calling the right number only to be told I needed to give them more information which I didn’t have, calling MILlie to get More Information, calling back to give them More Information, not being asked when I called back the second time for the More Information..
I made an appointment.
We were in business. I marked the date on the calendar for MILlie’s appointment and cleared my schedule for our road trip.
MILlie came over a few days ago.
“I need you to cancel that appointment,” she said.
I raised an eyebrow. At least that’s what I think I did.
“May I ask why?” I cautiously said.
She pulled out an entire section of the newspaper from her purse.
“I was afraid you were going to argue with me, so I brought this as proof,” she said.
“Don’t Ever Drive in this Town Two Hours Away Because The Roads Suck and You Will Die a Horrible Death” the headlines said. Or something to that effect.
“The roads are terrible there because all of the oil trucks are ruining them, and I would hate for something to happen to you just because you were driving me to the doctor,” MILlie said.
The roads are terrible here, too. But, I did not point this out to MILlie. Part of me was jumping for joy that I wouldn’t be going on the road trip, part of me was resenting all of the time I spent planning this adventure, and part of me was thinking about the last time I took MILlie to a doctor in town – which was not an experience either one of us would like to re-live. The environmentally concerned part of me was ticked off at all of the oil trucks, and the financially desperate part of me was wondering how I could cash in on this whole oil thing…
MILlie said, “So you don’t mind canceling the appointment?”
“Are you okay with me picking a doctor here in town?”
I gulped. “Alrighty then. I will get right on that.”
As soon as MILlie was gone, I called the 2 Hour Away Doctor. “Uh, do you guys have a recommendation for a doctor here in San Antonio?” I asked.
“We’ll have someone call you back with that information.”
I’m still waiting.
Something tells me I’m going to wish I’d made that road trip.
I do not have a good track record with doctors. So, I tend to avoid them if at all possible. I prefer to use the internet for my diagnoses.
MILlie, an elderly friend of the family, needs to go to the dermatologist. The only one she likes is in a different town that is about two hours away. Because I have had experience with trying to convince MILlie to try a new doctor in our town, I know better than to try that again. So, I agreed to take her. Which, in case you were not paying attention to my first paragraph, is a major sacrifice on my part. I am not telling you this merely because I want you to admire my heroism, but also because I want you to truly understand the irony of the last line of this post.
I called MILlie to make sure I had the right contact information so I could make the appointment.
“Well, let me get out the phone book,” MILlie said. “Okay. Here’s the address.”
“That’s okay. All I really need is the phone number for now,” I said.
“Well, it’s right across from the hospital. It’s in a big building. Across from the hospital. And, it’s in a suite. S-T-E.”
“No problem. If you can just give me the phone number, I’ll get the directions from the internet later, and then you can point out the building to me when we get there,” I said.
“Oh. Am I going to be with you?”
I have been recently struggling with gastroenterological problems, and just switched doctors. This is my perception of my appointment with my new doctor on Monday.
Management said, “You know that Colon? He’s inefficient.”
“Tell me about it,” I said. “I don’t understand what that guy’s problem is. I’ve given him everything he’s wanted, and he’s still not doing his job. I’m fed up with that guy’s performance. I think we need to let him go.”
Management shook his head. “We can’t do that. It’s better to have someone doing that job badly then no one doing that job at all.”
“We can find someone else. What about Bladder? She’s always working overtime.”
“Bladder has a completely different skill set than Colon. That won’t work. We need to put Colon on a Growth Plan.”
“A Growth Plan? I don’t want Colon to get any bigger. He’s bad enough as it is.”
“To make him better, not bigger.”
“Let me see that Growth Plan…. Wait a second. Why am I the one making all of the accommodations here when Colon is the one who is the problem? I already gave up Diet Coke and salads for him. I think that’s plenty. Where’s the paper that lists what he’s going to do?”
“Colon has shown that he can’t do the tasks that he has been assigned, and you want to give him a heavier workload? That hardly seems to make any sense.”
“So, are you suggesting that I lighten his load so that he will do a better job? That doesn’t make any sense, either. What about sending Colon to another department? Let someone else deal with his inefficiency.”
“With Colon’s reputation, no one else is going to take him,” Management said, shaking his head. “Brain is going to strike if you send her one more problem. And Heart and Lungs are still threatening to sue after you forced them to participate in that new Exercise Plan. I’m afraid you are going to have to find a way to work around Colon’s short-comings for the sake of the Company.”
“Fine!” I said. “But I want it on the record that I am protesting having to work with an inefficient Colon. And while you’re adding things to my file, put down that Bladder is going to have to work overtime on her own right now if she’s so intent on winning Employee of the Month. I’m tired of staying up late just because she’s some kind of freak who never needs to sleep.”
“Duly noted,” said Management. “But I wouldn’t count on that happening.”
“Well, if someone doesn’t start cooperating with me, I’m just going to have to take my complaints to The Top.”
“I’m sure that could be arranged,” Management stated as I turned around to make my leave.
Maybe I should just file for Bankruptcy and start all over.
I apologize to anyone who has not seen the great television series, “MASH”. You have been deeply deprived.
Henry Blake: Will you stop saying what I’m thinking?
Radar: One of us has to.
In yesterday’s cliffhanger, I mentioned that I am switching doctors. One of the reasons for this change is that Doctor Francesca Burns (pseudonym, of course) was never available when I needed to make an appointment. I didn’t actually meet her until the day of my colonoscopy because every time I called, they said there were no appointments available with her so I would have to see the nurse practitioner.
So, I decided to switch to Dr. Hawkeye Pierce with the hopes that he would be a little more accommodating.
Once I got the medical records transferred, I called the new office to make my appointment.
“Well, he can see you tomorrow, if that works,” said Hot Lips Houlihan.
“Oh, gosh, it doesn’t,” I said. “You see, there’s a funeral, and I’m a teacher, and something about a fire drill, and, well, there’s a lot of stuff going on.”
“O.K. How about Thursday morning at 9?”
“Well, that doesn’t really work either. The whole teacher thing, you see.”
Suddenly, I found myself in the position of being the one who was being difficult to pin down. I decided to take the initiative.
“How about next Tuesday at 4?” I asked.
“We have that open,” said Hot Lips. I breathed a sigh of relief. “But I can’t book you.”
“Umm. And, why is that again?”
“Well, we don’t have our morning booked yet. And I have to fill that up first. If that doesn’t fill up, I have to cancel the afternoon appointments.”
I began to get a tiny bit worried. What doctor do you know that isn’t booked out the wazoo? What does this mean that he has too much free time? And, what kind of business operation is this, where, if there isn’t enough to do in the morning, they just cancel the afternoon, too?
“We can fit you in on Monday at 4. Usually he doesn’t work on Mondays because that’s his surgery day. But he doesn’t have any surgeries booked this Monday.”
My mind was reeling. Is this good or is it bad that he doesn’t have any surgeries? Should I take the risk of trying Monday and a.) getting a call that my appointment is canceled because the doctor decided to play golf that afternoon or 2.) being told that I need surgery the following Monday so he can meet his quota?
If Hawkeye Pierce morphs into Charles Winchester, I’m going to have to have a talk with Radar. If anyone knows what’s going on in this mad world, he does.
I am trying to find a new doctor. In the course of all of this, I had to have my records released from the office of the former doctor. In a surprising turn of events, the former doctor’s office received my form on the 20th and, one week later, still had not sent them to the new doctor. I called the new doctor to find out what the holdup was. When I asked them if there was something else I needed to do, they said, “Call the other office, and ask them to send the records.”
I was hoping to avoid talking to anyone in the former office. First, because I am a wimp who hates confrontation. And secondly… well, the first pretty much covers it.
So, I called the office of the doctor who I was spurning.
The records lady was very pleasant, asked me who I was, date of birth, etc… Finally, she said she would send it right over. I decided not to ask why she hadn’t already done this. I mean, if all she needed was a voice on the phone (who could have been an imperfect stranger asking for my colonoscopy records to be transferred), then what was the point of the release? And, if the release was necessary for legal reasons, then why did she need my voice?
But, I didn’t say any of that. It’s just whatimeant2say.
Before I hung up, she said, “You do realize, don’t you, that once I transfer these records, it would be very difficult for you to come back here again?”
I am, according to my mother, descended from a mafioso, so I know a threat when I hear it.
“Uh, okay,” I said, and hung up.
whatimeant2say was, “You do realize, don’t you, that there is a reason that I requested those records to be transferred, and it’s not because I want to have two friggin’ doctors on my payroll? You do realize, don’t you, that this is a direct reflection of the kind of treatment I feel I received at your facility? You do realize, don’t you, that I can do a mean Tae Bo roundhouse kick (as long as it is in front of a t.v. in my bedroom, and there is no one else around)?”
This next doctor better be good, that’s allihave2say.photo credit: jaxxon via photopin cc
“Everyone’s gotta die sometime.”
This was my mother’s lackadaisical response whenever, after being bombarded at school with pictures of blackened lungs, I would beg her to stop smoking.
As far as I know, she’s still going strong; we haven’t spoken in years. But I’ve always thought if Someone Up There really has a twisted sense of humor, I would probably die first – in some ridiculous manner, like “Being Struck By A Flying Model Lawnmower At A New York Jets Halftime Show” or, probably more likely in my neck of the woods, “Being Crushed In Your Car By A Rolling Bale Of Hay.”
Recently, I have been struggling with IBS (Irritated B—– Screaming because no one can diagnose what’s wrong with her stomach). Cap’n Firepants and many of my friends have cautiously asked me if this could be in any way, shape, or form related to my Diet Coke Addiction.
I won’t tell you my less than polite response to this ridiculous suggestion, but I will say that, in desperation, I have mentioned this possibility to all of my doctors – who have pooh-poohed it immediately.
Of course, these are the same doctors who have no idea what is wrong with me.
Since my doctors have not only been unable to identify the cause of my issues nor to successfully treat the symptoms, I am beginning to have a little less faith in their advice.
I’ve decided to crowd-source my treatment, and the Crowd seems to think I need to give up Diet Coke. The good news is, this treatment will cost me nothing.
The bad news is that I will most likely murder someone during my withdrawal.
I pretty much drink Diet Coke like most people drink water. In fact, when I do drink water, my stomach churns and rebels as though I have just ingested arsenic-laced tea.
I’ve given D.C. up a few times in the last twenty years – most notably when I was pregnant with Dimples. But, to me, it’s always rated as a not-so-horrible-as-snorting-coke Addiction, so I return to it with a vengeance.
When reports started coming out that diet soda drinkers were actually fatter than their counterparts, I dismissed this as another one of those studies that was missing some key data – until my jeans started getting too tight a few weeks ago.
And then there is my own daughter.
When she asked if she could have a sip of my Diet Coke, all of my maternal instincts instantly screamed, “No, don’t let her start down this road of addiction to caffeine and artificial sweeteners!”
However, it’s a little difficult to justify restricting her from the same vile stuff I pour down my own throat on an hourly basis.
So, as a noble sacrifice for the sake of Dimples, I am going to make an attempt to break this vicious cycle.
Of course, I wouldn’t be upset if my jeans started fitting again.
Plus, I want to prove my doctors wrong.
And, quite frankly, although I am fairly certain I will “die sometime,” I really don’t want my obituary to read, “Diet Coke Ate up Her Internal Organs.”
In the meantime, at the risk of getting myself thrown in the slammer for insider trading, I highly recommend you start selling any stock you might have in Diet Coke. Their profits are about to suffer a severe downtick.photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/kt/503318641/”>The Rocketeer</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
I was recently diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. As far as I’m concerned, this is not a diagnosis. To me, IBS means “I Be Stumped”, meaning the doctor has no idea what is causing my intestinal discomforts and just wants to start throwing some pills at me to shut me up.
The fact that I have not actually talked to my doctor except for a brief introduction right before my colonoscopy may have something to do with my lack of faith in her advice. When I was first referred to this doctor she had no available appointments for the next 20 years, so I settled for meeting with the Nurse Practitioner instead.
The Nurse Practitioner was very nice, and seemed very knowledgeable, but I was the one that recommended I get tested for Celiac Disease after X-rays showed nothing unusual. Me recommending a test for myself seemed to me to be a reverse of the way these things are supposed to go.
She also recommended that I Google high fiber diets, which was further proof, as far as I was concerned, that the need to pay someone for professional medical advice is becoming obsolete.
Considering that I had to go somewhere else for all of my tests, and then was told that I should Google what I should be eating, I don’t really feel like my insurance company and I got our money’s worth for these office visits.
The nurse seemed surprised when I asked if it would actually be the doctor to whom I was referred that would be performing my colonoscopy. Considering I had never met her, I thought that was a fair question. For all I knew, the procedure was going to be done by a plumber. “Of course!” she responded, apparently offended by the question.
After the colonoscopy, the doctor apparently told my husband that I should call the office to schedule a “follow-up” in 4 weeks. I dutifully did this, suspecting the worthlessness in pursuing the matter any further.
“O.K., Mrs. Cap’n Firepants, you are all set for your follow-up.”
I was about to hang up when I had a thought.
“Uh, this appointment is with the doctor, right?”
“Well, uh, no. It’s with the Nurse Practitioner. The doctor is only available every other Friday and the fifth Thursday of the month during Leap Years.”
“I just called and said, ‘I need to schedule my follow up with the doctor,’ and you didn’t feel like it was worth telling me that I wouldn’t actually be WITH THE DOCTOR?” I said.
“Would you like to see the doctor?”
“I believe that’s what I meant when I asked to schedule an appointment with her, yes.”
Oh, great. I realize that I have probably been a little too sarcastic, and now I picture the receptionist labeling my chart, like poor Elaine on Seinfeld.
Elaine: I was looking at my chart [at the doctor’s office], and it said that I was difficult. Why would they write that?
Jerry: They’ve gotten to know you.
She finds that every doctor in the city has her chart, and tries to get Kramer to steal it for her.
ELAINE: Where’s my chart? Did you get it?
ELAINE: What? What happened?
KRAMER: I don’t know. But now they got a chart on me.
The receptionist miraculously finds a date on which I can meet with the doctor and I enthusiastically put it on my calendar despite the 20 other things with which it conflicts.
“Thank you so much!” I say, hoping to erase both the memory of my earlier sarcasm from her memory and the black mark from my chart.
“You’re welcome,” she says, and hangs up.
Thanks to my friend, Lisa H., for “turning me on” to this video. It’s a fabulously entertaining way to discuss a very serious subject!
Be sure to check out the website for Rethink Breast Cancer, too!
Not too long ago, I published a post ranting about my frustrations with some of the doctors I’ve encountered. Telling people in my blog what I really wish I’d said to them in person is what this site is all about. But not every missed opportunity to speak up is a complaint. Today’s post is dedicated to a compliment I wish I’d given.
When I don’t feel well, I call Dr. Jimmy’s office. A Real Person answers, not an automated voice with a confusing menu of choices, none of which actually apply to your situation, advising you to listen to all of the options because they have changed, then tricking you by making zero, the former talk-to-a-person option, into a non-choice so you have to listen to the blasted menu all over again.
The Real Person at Dr. Jimmy’s calmly listens, and finds a time to fit me in. Not in a month. That day. At a time that is convenient for me. There is a millisecond of a moment that I’m on hold while she looks up my chart, but there is no irritating scratchy music or ads for new treatments I didn’t know I needed. And no accidental hangups.
I arrive early for my appointment and the Real Live Person gives me a three-inch sheet of paper with about five things for me to fill out. I don’t have to fill out three pages of questions that I’ve already answered ten times before about my entire medical history and all of my allergies. Just check off that nothing has changed since the last time I was here, which for your information, People Who Think I’m a Hypochondriac, was two years ago.
I turn in my little paper stub and my copayment. I sit down and pull out my iPad. Two minutes later, I am called back to the exam room. Yep, you got that right, folks. Before. My. Appointment. Time.
Weight and blood pressure taken, I wait in the reasonably temperate room. I am not freezing my butt off in a transparent napkin that covers nothing because I am actually still wearing all of my clothes. No paper gown dress code for Dr. Jimmy’s office.
As I contemplate taking my iPad out again, in strides Dr. Jimmy. Casually dressed in jeans and a button down shirt, he shakes my hand and greets me like an I’m an old friend from college he happened to bump into at the grocery store. In a manner of minutes, he has helped me to identify my physical ailment, empathized with me because he’s suffered through the same symptoms, offered over-the-counter treatment, and asked me to call the office back if this reasonable prescription doesn’t help within a day.
No over-dramatic orders to go see five specialists, get blood tests and x-rays, and to stop eating anything if I ever want to feel better.
I am back in my car within 25 minutes of my arrival. I could actually go back to work if I want to.
But I don’t.
Thanks, Dr. Jimmy. I haven’t taken my medicine yet, but I feel better already.
“The big hand points to the minutes, and the little hand points to the hour.”
You might think that this statement was addressed to my eight-year-old or one of my elementary school students, but it is actually something that I would really like to say to several of the doctors I know. Apparently, Handwriting was not the only subject they missed in their vast education.
“The doctor will be with you in 5 minutes” quite often should be translated into, “The doctor will join you in the freezing exam room where you are sitting and looking forlornly at your drained cell phone battery icon as soon as the big hand has traveled all of the way around the clock.”
It’s good they take my blood pressure reading way before the doctor actually enters the room, because I’m pretty sure they would check me into the hospital right away if they took a reading at the time of his appearance.
The thing is, the doctors appear to be wearing watches. Digital ones, even. So they don’t even have the complication of those confusing hands . Yet, the concept of wandering into the room at the actual time of an appointment seems completely foreign to many of them.
I have plenty of time to rehearse my speech about the fact that my time is just as important as theirs. And how would they feel if I meandered in an hour after my appointment time and demanded immediate treatment?
But, inexplicably, as soon as I catch a glimpse of the white coat, I am so eager to get the whole thing over and done, that I can barely remember what brought me there in the first place.
The opening some doctors give when they innocently ask, “Do you have any questions?” temptingly invites the response, “Yes, do you mind donating your Rolex to my medical expenses since you obviously never use it anyway?”
But I just mutely shake my head as I longingly reminisce about the 105 degree reading on my car thermometer as I arrived for my appointment. I mentally push the doctor out the door so I can put on my clothes and leave.
And thus I bypass another teachable moment and another opportunity to stand up for the rights of busy patients everywhere.