Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Nice Lady

I am a lousy patient. That is probably why I get what I consider lousy healthcare when I must suck it up and actually cash in on all that medical insurance that has drained my pockets for so many years.

The healthcare business is a mystery to me. I always feel as if I have entered another dimension created just to drive me completely bonkers. I admit my attitude when ill, wounded, or whacked out is less than the ideal patient profile. I can be surly, uncooperative, and generally a pain in the ass. At least that is my wife's opinion. After 26 years of dealing with my peculiarities, I would say her opinion might be considered expert even if it is biased.

So anyway, I have been dealing with something new for me. I would convey just what this recent ailment was if I could. The folks with scopes and thermometers don't seem to know. How can anyone expect me, a simple citizen who doesn't even know where his spleen is, to have a flippin clue. All I know is it is some painful. It has cut my cognitive 2+2=4 abilities to a trickle. And the left side of my head looks like a pear on steroids.

It is at this point a sinus, ear, bad tooth, or just some evil little gremlin inside my head causing mayhem and wreaking havoc in the left side of my head. Things went well the first few days. Antibiotics kicked the major pain down to a dull roar. But one look in the mirror and I could tell we were only fighting the flames with a squirt bottle.

So I get on the phone. Call the Doc's spiffy new million dollar set up with all the fancy furniture in the waiting room. I get a nice lady on the phone.

"This is Mike Macrum. I was in 3 times over the last 2 weeks about my sinus, ear, uh the problem in my head. The Doc wanted me to call in and let him know how it was going. It is not going well."

The nice lady - "Could you explain just what is wrong sir?"

Me through the haze of pain and discomfort, " No, that is your job dammit. And so far throwing pills at it is not working. My head hurts. Does that work for you?"

"Do you want an appointment sir?"

"I don't know, the doc told me to call if I was having problems. So I am calling. The ball's in your court now."

This conversation continued this way for a few more moments and then abruptly I was told to "Hold Please" and the line went click. Dis - fucking -connected!

I had learned from previous encounters with this impersonal uncaring healthcare system that calling back in a rage does little to move the sluggish medical machine in a positive way. So I laid back down on the couch in my misery and tried to make sense of the Sopranos DVDs my wife bought me for my birthday.

A couple of hours later, the phone rings. It's the doc. Like the nurse he asks me what is wrong. Doesn't this guy have my file in front of him? What the Hell? But I do a re-run of the problem and when I say the swelling and pain is still there, there is a moment of silence and then "Oh, uh, well this is not good".

I am thinking this is not good that he thinks it is not good. But I marshall up some civility and just ask what does he want to do. "We'll have to get an X-ray", he says.

I think this is odd because 2 weeks previous I asked if I should get one. But I just say okay, get me an appointment. He ends the conversation abruptly with, "The nice lady will call you with an appointment".

3 hours later I am still waiting to hear from "the nice lady". Feeling abandoned again, I call and get "the nice lady" back on the phone. By this time I am guessing my file has been flagged with whatever color code they use to flag the pain in the ass patients. She obviously recognizes my whiny voice and is not so nice this time. "Mr Macrum, please be patient, we have to get authorization first from your insurance provider before we can schedule an X-ray."

"What authorization? Last year when I crashed on my mounain bike I was x-rayed the same day and it was not an emergency. You guys just wanted to make sure I had not broken my hip. I had the same insurance then. What the Hell is going on?"

"SIR, you will just have to be patient. It may take up to 24 hours to get authorization."

I shut up and then hung up. The next day the hospital called. "We can get you in for your CAT SCAN next Tuesday at 7:00 AM. Will that work for you?"

"CAT SCAN? What CAT SCAN? I was told this was an X-ray." The light had clicked on. The reason for the delay made sense now. And my anger at the lousy communication skills of "the nice lady" and the doc increased three fold.

This has been my week. Feeling terrible and dealing with officious uncaring medical professionals. And now I get to wait until Tuesday to get a 3D rendition of my cranial voids. How long after that will it take for them to get a clue so I have a clue is the big question now.


Apertome said...

I very much distrust doctors. I haven't been to one in a few years, and while I know I need a checkup, I am very skeptical. Good luck with this, I hope they can figure out what the problem is.

MRMacrum said...

apertome - Five years ago I was involved in a first consumer use of a drug therapy. At over $2000/month it was not cheap. The run of the therapy was to last 1 year. It was a miserable experience. Because I was one of the 11% who reacted negatively combined with the lack of monitoring by the doctors, I almost died. Yeah, I too have a well deserved mistrust of the medical field.