January 31, 2012

Dr. Stepford and the Deathly Shallow

I have been a delinquent blogger this month.  I realize that.  It's amazing to me that I did so well all throughout November and December, in spite of the holidays and surgery and everything else.  For some reason, though, my heart just hasn't been all the way invested in January.  Well, for several reasons, really, the biggest of which is that I am freaking OVER dealing with medical issues and talking about them all the time.  I hope that in the very near future I will again be finding the humor in daily life and therefore have more interesting things about which to blog than which doctor did what to me when--for the eleventy billionth time.

That said, it's been over a week since my last post.  After my last boxing match with Dr. Earnest, I was just too tired and angry to write.  I'm not now, because the end is near.  Not my end, thank you very much, but the end of my affiliation with Dr. Earnest and, as one dear friend refers to it, Asshat Medical.

After waiting for over a week to hear back from Nurse Vapid about the whole "Am I getting an MRI or what" question, I finally called the office, only to be told by Nurse Attitude Problem that my file was not important enough to peruse  still on the doctor's desk.  Nice.  I lost it, or at least as much as once can lose it without actually going postal.  I flat-out asked Nurse Bite Me if they routinely jerked around ALL their patients, or if it was just me.  Not surprisingly, she resorted to her standard tactic of talking in circles and while saying nothing remotely useful beyond yet again telling me she didn't "see why I was so upset because it just wasn't that big a deal."  Well, maybe not to you, Sweetheart, but shockingly, my health IS important to me.  And you'll forgive me if I don't trust your medical opinion, what with your flagrant lack of a medical degree and all.  I was furious.  This woman, who is probably half my age, has done nothing but condescend to me since I met her.  I find such behavior irretrievably unprofessional.  Finally the cow asked if I wanted the doctor to call me.  Well, DUH--I have been trying to speak to.the.actual.doctor since this all started.  YES, I want her to call me.

I waited the whole rest of the day for Doctor Clueless to call me back.  I practically soldered my cell phone to my hand so I wouldn't miss the call.  I even waited to shower (I had plans to go see "Spamalot" with a friend Monday night) so I wouldn't miss the call.  When I could wait no longer, I went ahead and showered in approximately 3 minutes, after which I ran to the counter to check my phone.  No call.  I got dressed.  No call.  I turned the ringer up, set the phone facing me on the counter so I could see any messages flash by, then turned on the hair dryer.  Naturally, in the roughly 30 seconds I had my eyes closed to dry my bangs, my fool phone rang.  I saw it and rushed to pick up the call before it went to voicemail.  Too late.  I tried to call back, but kept getting the main office number and after-hours answering service.  Two months I've been waiting to talk to this woman, and I can't even call her back.  Yup.  Story of my life.

Fed up, I went the next day to her office.  I walked up to the receptionist and told her I wanted to see the doctor.  She started to mention Nurse Stupid's name.  I said "No, I don't WANT to talk to Nurse Stupid, I want to talk to the DOCTOR."  I should point out here that, while terse and specific, I was in no way rude.  I was rude on the phone with Nurse Buttmunch the day before, but even then I did not call her a single one of the names rampaging through my brain and, while angry, was still civil.  Mostly.

I was sent to the waiting room and Nurse Death Glare came to collect me a few moments later.  She took me back to one of the rooms where I sat and waited for Dr. Earnest.  When the doctor came in, her first words to me were "I thought you were just going to call me back today."  Yeah, right, doc...that was going to happen.  Because communication with you and your office staff is so very reliable.  I don't think so.  I informed her that I was very frustrated over the way I had been treated, to which she replied, "yes, they said you were upset."  No, doc, I wasn't "upset."  I was FURIOUS.  I explained my frustrations, the incredible lack of communication and the unprofessional behavior.  The entire time she sat listening, completely and utterly expressionless.  What I had originally taken for earnestness was apparently more along the lines of Stepfordian.  Occasionally she would interject that lovely psychological cliché "I hear what you're saying..." just to annoy me further.

At no point whatsoever during the interview did her facial expression or vocal expression alter one whit.  I was beginning to think that she was secretly a cyborg.  She did not appear concerned, angry, upset with her staff or upset with me.  She was just...blank.  It was tremendously disconcerting.  Eventually she apologized for the confusion (which I did not find sincere) and said she agreed that her staff should not be treating me as if my health were irrelevant or insignificant (also without changing any expressions).  She said that in future she would personally check into their communication practices, particularly as they pertain to ME (translation:  "I'll call you more often if I have to, but you need to know that you are the only whiny baby who complains about our procedures").

Next she flatly informed me that "the past is the past" and that if we were "going to continue to have a relationship" that I would have to "behave more professionally" when talking to her staff, because she couldn't have them "afraid to come to work for fear of being berated."  Oh, no.  No, no, no, no, no.  Your Nurse Victimized treats me like a waste of space from Day One for having the cajones to advocate on behalf of my own healthcare, jerks me around for 2 ½ months, then runs crying to you because I am justifiably frustrated and you have the nerve to treat ME like some deviant teen in the principal's office??  NOT.  COOL.  That thunk you hear, Dr. Stepford?  That's the last nail being pounded into the coffin.  I told her that I would stop "berating them" if they would stop giving me reasons to do so.

Shortly after this astonishing display of F.U. and the horse you rode in on, she sat and told me that "these things are really very common and generally nothing to worry about."  I pointed out that we should have been having this exact discussion two months ago.  "Okay" (no expression change).  I asked what the usual procedure was should it turn out to be a cyst and was informed that it would basically become an eternal "wait and see" proposition, requiring me to get re-scanned every 6-12 months to monitor any growth.  Yay.  Because I want to do this all.the.time.

We then began the negotiation for how best to test me once again.  After discussing it with the radiologist, Dr. Stepford "recommended" another CT, but with a different type of contrast.  I was patently against this, considering that a contrast CT had already been performed.  Dr. Cyborg admitted that she was fine with an MRI, but that the advantage of doing any tests at the hospital was that the radiologists would compare all test results, even though they aren't supposed to.  I don't know about all of you, but I don't feel particularly comforted to know that some random radiologist is consistently bucking the rules to compare my multiple scans, or even multiple radiologists, come to that.  I realize this is their specialty and you can color me picky if you like, but I prefer my ACTUAL DOCTOR to read and interpret my scans.  Dr. Stepford then told me that she doesn't read anyone's scans, and nor does any other internist in town.  I was instructed that internists maybe read chest x-rays, but that's about it.  How comforting to know that my healthcare is being determined by someone who lacks the ability to blink, never mind to interpret my actual tests herself.   Charming.  Clearly I've been watching too much House M.D., because I have the apparently foolish belief that all doctors should be able to read all results.  What was I thinking??

Negotiations continued.  Dr. Nonexistent Bedside Manner also agreed that an MRI at the diagnostic center would be acceptable (though gosh darn it, they wouldn't compare results).  By this time I was so beyond giving a flying fart in space and I just wanted it all to be over.  "You look unhappy (don't blink) with this decision..." (OMG, she's secretly a Weeping Angel from Doctor Who!!).  I told her I was past caring whether I did a CT or an MRI or what or where, as long as it could be done as quickly as possible.  She said that the diagnostic center would almost certainly be quicker, though either would require a few days to make sure my insurance would cover it. 

In the end, Nurse Bitchy came back with times for each place...on the same day.  Well, that was a pointless exercise.  She then told me I couldn't have anything to eat or drink for 8 hours.  (For an MRI???  Since when, Nurse Head Up Heinie?)  We negotiated times some more, deciding on this morning at 8:15.  At the DIAGNOSTIC CENTER.  So I got my way, but mostly only because they were trying to placate me and make me leave.  Nurse Bitchy came back with the order for me, and told me that since they had "switched it" to an MRI instead of a CT, I didn't have to not eat.  And this would be why I loathe you, Nurse Needs Slapping--no one changed the order.  Please try to pay attention and have something productive and non-asinine to say in future, won't you?  Or is that too "unprofessional" of me to say??

I left with my MRI paperwork and an appointment to get the results on Thursday, after which I hope never to see either of these signally ineffective medical practitioners.  If I merely have a cyst, nothing's gonna happen before I can find a new PCP.  If it's cancer, I'll have a different doctor--a specialist who presumably knows how to read a freaking scan--anyway.  Either way, after Thursday it's Hasta la Vista, Baby to the most inexplicably useless medical practice I have ever had the misfortune to visit.  Needless to say, Thursday won't get here soon enough.

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