A Bit About Me

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Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

25 July 2010

It's Just a Matter of Time

Well, it happened yet again to me last night.

I call my on-call doctor at 2:00 a.m. to let her know I have increasing right-side abdominal pain. Pain, by the way, which I mentioned when I saw a physician on Monday. Pain, which I mentioned when I saw another one on Tuesday, and pain, which I mentioned to yet another one, on Wednesday.

But, I guess I broke some unwritten on-call doctor rule: I woke her up.

I didn't mean to wake her up - I don't know what time she goes to bed - if she would have called me at 2:00 a.m., I wouldn't have had any problem with it. And, silly me for not timing the severity of my abdominal pain at a "more convenient" time for her.

I got the requisite "Are you vomiting, diarrhea, fever, etc.?" questions - and I answer, "No, no, no, well, yes...but I'm on a drug that does that anyway." The rest of the conversation (and my fleeting ongoing phone-call thoughts) goes a bit like this...

"My pain? Right lower side - it started getting really severe about 30 minutes ago...altho it seems a bit better now. I was just concerned it was appendicitis."

Well, I'm 48 - apparently not the "ideal" age for appendix problems. Silly me, again...I should have checked online first before I called...altho I've been chastised by nearly every single doctor about online self-diagnosis, even if that diagnosis was via WebMD or MayoClinic.com.

"Can you wait until tomorrow to go to Pri-Med?"

"I hope so...what do YOU think? I called you to make sure it didn't sound like appendicitis or something else to really worry about."

"Well, only YOU know if it's bad enough to go to the ER or wait. Apparently it was bad enough for you to wake ME up at 2:00 a.m. to tell me about it."

Well, so sorry to have bothered you - next time I'll try to time my increasing pain better - in fact I'll just set up on appointment next week to have it. (No, I didn't say this...but I was thinking it the whole time.)

Bear in mind I was once verbally scolded by a doctor who said I shouldn't eat apples at night. It felt like a big chunk was lodged in my throat...and, after waiting about five hours for it to dissolve or slide down, I finally gave up and called. I remember the exact exchange like it was yesterday...

"You should be in bed at 4:00 a.m., SLEEPING, like I'm going to get back to doing once I hang up the phone. If you can still breathe...YOU'RE NOT CHOKING!"

"Well, I didn't say I was choking, it just feels like it's stuck in my throat like right where..."


Yes, he hung up on me in mid-sentence. This happened about eight months ago.

So, after I hung up the phone last night...I cried and cried.

I don't want to be a pain in the butt - I don't want to call doctors on weekends - I don't want to call them at 2:00 a.m. - but, isn't it also a fact that an "on-call" doctor...IS on-call?

I didn't call because I had an eyelash in my eye. I didn't call because my cat scratched me. I called because I honestly was worried I was having something which could lead to a even worsening situation and/or death.

But, after I cried, I cried and cried some more -- feeling like I'm just a waste of skin and promising myself the next time, if something happens off-hours or on weekends, I'll just ignore it - preferring death to their guilt-trip-laden third-degree "How dare you bother ME!" treatment.

Seriously, I felt worse AFTER I hung up than before I called...each of these times...and just ended up taking my Ambien and hoping I'd wake up the next day.

But after several nonchalant dismissals of this nature (for both myself and my children), I'm wondering how many people actually get treated this way - or is it just that I've gotten the "red-flagged...oh it's that whiner again" reputation? Did I do anything I oughtn't to have done? How should I handle things like this in the future?

I don't sit around my house thinking of ways I can piss off yet another doctor. I don't like going to the Emergency Room to waste six hours of my life. But I don't want to be another one of those "Oh, she shouldn't have waited to call" death statistic, either.

I fear if I call to complain or to report them (it's happened with base doctors several times)...I'm sure to get treated worse in the future...and it's not like I can change doctors like I do underwear. So, have any of you been where I've been with this? And if you have...or even if you haven't, what is your suggestion to me?

Truth be told, I've had some very nice responses from on-call doctors...especially the ones in Birmingham. In fact, I've never been treated badly by any doctors in Birmingham...why, I haven't a clue.

(Written, but not published, about a year ago...on a Friday.)


  1. As a child I was sick a lot. Never anything serious, just the flu mainly, strep throat a few times a year. My mother usually had the patience of a saint. Loverly woman; but even she got tired of hearing me complain. As an adult I still get sick *esp. from the sun; but I keep it to myself. Not that I don't whine & make my family miserable; but I'm too chicken to call the dr for fear of getting a rep as a hypochondriac. More than likely I WILL wind up a statistic; how could she NOT know something was wrong with all thouse symptoms? I have no advice on getting better treatment from the doctors. Don't ignore your pain to ease their lives though. They can label you whatever they want & think whatever they want they took an oath to take care of you. Go through enough doctors & eventually you'll find some good ones. Outside of Birmingham even. :)


  2. P.S. I am STILL convinced the last case of Strep Throat I had that I left untreated (I KNEW it was Strep, because I"ve had it enough; but I don't have insurance so I avoided a 400 dollar doctor visit) turned into Scarlet Fever. I had the strawberry tongue (still do to a lesser degree) & I felt horrible for well over a month before it STARTED to go away. Moral of the story: Leave it to fate & you'll probably be okay as long as your immune system is strong enough (I know you've had the lung problems, so I don't know HOW strong your immune system is); but if you HAVE insurance, or your immune system is weak, you may as well get your money's worth.

    MoannaMonster, DebE. Derby -- too lazy to sign in.

  3. I'm so sorry you had this experience with the o/c doctor. Being on the other end--getting calls from people that call the doctors at all hours--I often wonder about the outcome. The only time I have called the doctor after hours is after I had my surgery and I had some questions. Some doctors have just horrible bed side manners. I ought to know, since I hear them before they speak with the patient. I am really sorry you got a doctor that does not have a good bedside manner. This was just an o/c doctor or a doctor that you had already seen before? I understand that being a doctor can be a stressful job, but I do wish they would think about how the patien feels when they are on the phone with them. I mean, it may not be an emergency/emergency, but to that patient that is calling--it is

  4. Derby - Sorry to hear about your strep throat issues. :(

    Nanners - You hit the nail on the head when you said that it might not be an emergency - but to the patient it is. It's very scary when you don't know if something is wrong or okay. I have had to resort to asking doctors - or telling them they should give you a sheet of paper saying what is normal and what you should be concerned about enough to call.

  5. Now that is some great bedside manner...

  6. Christopher -

    Yep. And I am always overly apologetic for calling them up and bothering them.

    The couple times I've done it to the on-call doctors in Birmingham (my heart dr and the dr who did a thyroid biopsy on me)...they stated, "Oh, don't think anything of it...that's why we're on call." I am always, "Oh my God...you are soooooooooooooo much nicer than the majority of them here!"

    And they said it like they MEANT it, too!