I, being a creature of the investigatory sort...watch things, listen to things, hone in on things, and interrupt full-fledged conversations between two complete strangers whom nature, in her infinite beauty and wisdom, decided to sit me next to in various places (mainly doctor's offices). I take this as an invitation to chime right in, as 1) most people like talking about their ills, and, 2) most people like people taking an interest in said ills.
In all this time I've noticed that everyone, no matter how quiet, has a tale to tell. Everyone who is in a doctor's office has that little story they relate to perfect strangers who bother to show the slightest attention - everyone enjoys comparing their stories of total injustice and weighing them against your stories of total injustice.
That's just how people are...at least 99 percent of the ones I've run across in my relentless search to get well in this state. All states and their inhabitants are predictably the same...yes, "people are alike all over". (More bonus pointage if you can zone in on what that reference is from).
Common sense would dictate if you can't get an appointment with a specialist in a couple weeks, that's a good thing. One thing you don't want is a specialist who is not highly sought after.
Common sense also dictates when you get a referral from your doctor to see a specialist and you are in pain and worried about your condition rapidly deteriorating into something which would have been treatable had it "only been caught a couple months before"...and that appointment isn't until six or seven months from now...you tend to question the entire system.
Case in point, my daughter shakes. Her extremities shake...she looks like an early-onset Parkinson's patient...but I'm not a doctor and WebMD is scary ("two clicks and you're dead" I always say). When the neurology office, which has a valid referral that is only good for one year, tells you they will call you back and never does...you kinda wonder -- "Did the doctor get the memo? Did the receptionist take down the memo? Does the receptionist know what a memo is?" When you call back and they give you the same spiel "Well, the next opening he has is in six months" you wonder -- Is this what they tell you instead of sending you the "downsizing" letter? Is this just a nicer way to "fire" you? It's not like they won't SET YOU UP with an appointment...the appointment is just too far out into the future for you to wait with your issue that they know you will begrudingly go elsewhere. Case closed and no nastygrams therefore you can't say they weren't willing to work with you.
Now, I am not stupid, I know doctors are busy. But take a good long look around you - most of these offices, especially if they just relocated...are nothing short of mini-palaces. They have 15 people working for them and they start diversifying into lucrative big-money fields which don't need big-name, highly-skilled doctors to do the procedures. Things like: Botox while you wait for your eyes to get dilated, laser resurfacing of your skin as you wait to have that nasty mole looked at. Teeth brightened to nearly the magnitude of the star, Sirius. Free eyelid surgery with every lasik procedure. The list -- and the signs...go on and on.
And another thing that goes on and on...yet another "firing" of me the other day.
I have no cavities. I've never had any, and as such, I don't have any fillings. I am not versed at all in the ways of anything dental. I don't go to dentists very often...it doesn't seem to have had any negative ramifications; unlike the other doctors I go to where they keep finding things wrong with me. If they'd only stop looking, I'd be OKAY!
But, I do have this one molar that is dropping down from its perch in my upper jaw. It wouldn't be dropping if not for the fact someone removed two of my teeth from the bottom jaw in an effort for my crowded front teeth to "naturally" rearrange themselves to where they should normally be without the intervention of braces.
It didn't work. So much for that doctor...but he's probably long dead, so it's a moot point to bad-mouth him now. (Yeah, I know...the puns and word-plays in these two blogs are nearly unbearable...I challenge anyone to find them all.)
So, when I woke up with a hurting inner gum next to my dropping tooth and it being slightly red...I was a tad concerned. When I had to go to Birmingham for an all-day thyroid uptake scan and it was now a shade off from crimson and became extremely painful and throbbing...I was worried even more. I called my dentist (who I've been seeing about this tooth lately...who also referred me to an endodontist about it and a root canal) to try to get the appointment I made just a few hours ago upped a bit earlier in the morning. If there's an indicator as to how much pain I'm in...it would be my willingness to go to a doctor's appointment during my "sleep hours" of 8:00-2:00 p.m.-ish. They upped it to 10:45...again reminding me that they did indeed have one I could have gone to today if I "hadn't only gone up to Birmingham instead". Even with me telling her that I was having a thyroid scan in Birmingham...I sensed a bit of miffed-ness on her part. More than a bit...especially when I called back the third time.
Yes, I called to ask if the redness progressing to "beet red" and the area "looking like a rug burn" according to my son (I couldn't see it very clearly in the bathroom mirrors) was a bad thing? Something perhaps very bad? As I never had so much as a toothache, I didn't know what that felt like to compare anything else to.
Again she acted very annoyed that I "chose to go to Birmingham instead of the dentist" as if there was any real free-will of mine involved. I ignored her and asked if these things sometimes progress rapidly to something very bad or do they take a while. She, did not know...and I don't fault her at all for that...she's not the dentist. She mentioned something about "going to the emergency room" if I thought it was bad enough and asked if I wanted the dentist to give me a call back. I, of course, did...but told her I wouldn't be available to receive calls for about an hour and a half as they were going to take me back for the scan any minute. She said it was not a problem and he would indeed call me.
Well, he didn't. He also didn't the time before (about three months ago) - but I got better. I was hoping I'd get better again. I didn't.
On the way home it felt like someone took a cheese grater and ran it back and forth a few times over my inner gum. It felt torn up and bloody - like a rare steak after a good meat pounding by a gladiator's mace club. It really wasn't normal feeling...and I was actually scared to look at it again.
Even with a call to my very, very smart friend, who assured me that while it sounded like an abscess, it wouldn't invade my brain overnite -- I opted to call the dentist after hours. I'd feel much better with an expert opinion - plus, maybe what had been going on inside my mouth was already Emergency Room material.
It was around 7:30ish. Not too late I wouldn't think. His wife took the call. His wife was wonderful...such a lovely person. I apologized profusely for calling and begged her not to notify him directly and it could wait until he got home later. But since I had left a message on the other number she assured me he would probably call regardless.
He did. He was pretty certain I'd be just fine until the next day...but if it got much worse to go to the Emergency Room.
Whew! I was much more relieved.
As his wife suggested on the phone the night before, I showed up as soon as they opened. I was extremely pleased they took me in after a very short wait. I must say that the staff there is usually extremely friendly and nice...and this time was no exception.
Except, the dentist wasn't very nice to me. Truth be told he had been quite curt and abrupt with my daughter and myself in the past...but this time he was more so. I did not understand at what point I'd need a root canal as I never had one - and, as he did send me to the endodontist a few months back...I thought perhaps one was imminent. I also asked about just having the tooth removed and if this was an option. This did not go over very well, and he got even more annoyed with me for asking what I would think were logical questions. I'm not a dentist, but I would figure you wouldn't wait until it was past the point of no-return to get a root canal. I also didn't know the protocol for getting one done...so I asked. He again seemed very annoyed, as if talking to a small child with only a rudimentary grasp of the language...and that language being Finnish. He finally conveyed to me two things which were involved in order to get a root canal: tooth damage or unbearable pain. Apparently I didn't have tooth damage...which again made me wonder why I was sent off to the endodontist...and apparently, as I wasn't writhing around in pain in a fetal position grasping my mouth begging for painkillers or death...I didn't fall into the "pain" category, either.
I came out more perplexed and befuddled than when I went in - but at least it wasn't a deadly brain abscess...and we both didn't know why it decided to go into hyperhurt the day before...but it was MUCH, much better by the time he saw it. So much better that, if I hadn't had the appointment, I wouldn't have made one.
Anyway, I was happy I was seen so promptly and I thanked everyone involved and even booked a cleaning for my daughter and myself. But I still couldn't shake the rudeness I was shown by him.
Did I get him mad as I called him after hours? But, his office assured me he would call back...it's not my fault he didn't.
I was in pain and I didn't want it to fester into something I should have taken care of...but today it was much better. Did he think I was just blowing it all out of proportion?
Do people ever ask questions at the dentist? Maybe they don't. Maybe I shouldn't be asking questions either? Hmmmm...
...maybe I should get a new dentist?
I told a few people I was thinking of going to a different dentist as he was very mean this time...and I meant it. I would just have to ask around to see who other people liked.
But I shrugged the whole thing off and the pain was getting better...and then the following day...the very following day, I received a letter in the mail (yes, the actual postal mail). This is what it said:
"I am writing to inform you that we will no longer be able to treat you in our office. We have cancelled any appointments you have scheduled in the future.
We will see you on an emergency basis until March 15, 2011. This should allow sufficient time for you to find another dentist. We will send copies of your records to the dentist of your choice."
Exactly what you see there is what I received. I, of course, removed the heading and the signature.
I honestly don't get it.
Could someone possibly tell me what I did remotely wrong?
And I certainly want to read what that cover letter inside that folder says when he sends a copy of it to my next dentist...and, if need be, I want the opportunity to challenge it.
I feel like that poor little boy in class who drops his pencil off his desk one too many times and then the teacher keeps a stern eye on him as he surely is destined to get a call home to be recommended for ADHD medicine if he does it...just...ONE...MORE...TIME!
I've already been judged by a jury of one. I've been locked up in the pillory and the whole town is making the pilgrimage over just to point and throw old tomatoes and animal feces in my face.
I liken this to being accused of being a witch...or branded a heretic...and this Scarlet Letter of mine... my doctor's file...will accompany me from town to town. Everyone "knows" me before I meet them. I am now some medical pariah.
Oh, think that's a bit too extreme? When was the last time YOU snuck a peek into your file when the doctor left the room? Do you know what's been written about you? You should.
When was the last time you tried to get a doctor's appointment which you thought took an inordinate amount of time?
When was the last time you felt your doctor rushed a bit too much?
When was the last time you felt passed over or been told that it was "all in your head"?
When was the last time you had tests run and they came back normal? Normal? Normal for what?? What exactly WERE they looking for that they thought you had?
When was the last time you left with unanswered questions?
Isn't it about time you don't leave until you feel you were given the respect they expect to get from you?
Isn't it about time, when we do leave, that we hand the next person in the waiting room a scorecard showing how good you thought your doctor and the staff was?
I bet we'd all start being more civil to each other if we both knew it was going to go both ways.
(Okay...thanks for letting me vent. I know this was long. And to anyone who wants to know which doctors in this town I hold in extreme high esteem...feel free to ask. There are quite a few here who I simply love and I will pass their names on without hesitation. The others...eh...I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and not name names.
Lastly, it's just a shame that some people can really intimidate you, especially the people you need to go through in order to get that doctor's appointment. I've listened to more people than I can remember who've told me they'd report the receptionist or other office workers but they are afraid they'd find out about it and never be able to book another appointment.)