In a nutshell, things have been sucking mightily. As in, sitting here, writing this, causes a certain degree of discomfort thanks to the glow of the LCD and the blinking of the cursor and the scrolling of the mouse tend to cause vertigo (as does driving in the car — yes, as a passenger — and nodding or shaking my head, and laughing really really hard, which, surprisingly, I still do quite often).
The kind doctor, formerly known as Dorktor, but for now we’ll call him Dr. G (yes, he’s a guy, so no, he’s not that Dr. G. Although I wish she still worked on live people, she’s really cool) had to stop office hours for the next year or so thanks to some crazy ass labor laws that say physicians who teach can’t make their students work all hours and so… Well, anyway, he’s teaching, and doing rounds at a local hospital whose name I will mention because I’m bullshit at the administration right now there — the Whidden Memorial. I am in touch with him, and I had a student of his who is at the local office assigned to me — Dr. R — that he personally picked for this purpose. He said to her, to me, and to the rest of the staff at the office there, “My hands will be involved in this one, because no parties involved here deserve to go this alone.” Can I tell you that Dr. G is seriously the epitome of what a doctor ought to be?
I’m not sure why he picked Dr. R, but I like her. She’s about fifteen years old. The attending that stepped in to our appointment yesterday was about 24 years old. For the record, that makes the attending exactly 162 years younger than I am at the moment.
Here’s the deal: Dr. G thought (and we agreed) that in order to get a clear picture, I need to go off all the stuff I’m on. Ritalin, Concerta (my sleep doctor’s instructions for weaning off those — when you get up in the morning, don’t take them. Don’t take any other doses of them during the day. Next day, repeat. There’s no rebound/withdrawal as I’ve taken as directed, and I’ll just return to my normal crappy state), propranolol (which scares me most)… I have to stop them just in case they’re masking stuff, or screwing with tests, or whatever. I don’t want to do this in an outpatient setting — I’m kind of a risk at home right now in terms of falling over and doing stupid stuff without thinking.
So let’s do an inpatient, sooner rather than later. It’s set up before Dr. G goes on vacation last Friday, I’m to get admitted to the Whidden, and if they take me off my stuff and I get worse in 24 hours (which we all had no doubt would happen in 3 or 4 hours), insurance would pay for my stay and we could blitzkreig the testing, adjust stuff accordingly, and send me home.
Friday night, all set. Dr. R will call with details on Monday — what to bring to my appointment where I’ll be admitted.
Apparently all the administrators at the hospital stopped listening at “remove prescribed meds,” assumed I was abusing them, and denied my stay… Probably as soon as they thought Dr. G reached his vacation destination and was unreachable by phone, email, or page. Said I should go to a rehab center. Ahem. Dr. R respectfully asked why they thought someone who was taking things as prescribed should go to a place where people at best haven’t taken things as prescribed or are taking street drugs and the only monitoring I’ll get is two blood pressure readings and one temperature measurement a day. And how would I get any follow up diagnostic tests?
We can do them on an outpatient basis, says hospital. Oh really? I can’t get my legs over the sides of the motherloving tub half the time after a shower. I haven’t seen the second floor or basement of this house in seven months. I am not doing tests scheduled on the fly for the next five months.
So a lovely ex-nurse-turned-hack who we’ll call Dumbo calls to tell me that my insurance isn’t covering the stay. I could go to a detox center. No, I can’t, Dumbo. I asked why it was all set when Dr. G left on Friday, and on Monday morning it isn’t?
Dr. G apparently had lots of “wishful thinking.” No, Dumbo. I said, “It seems more like I have a doctor who really wants to get things resolved, and the hospital management thinks it knows better.”
Dumbo says, “Oh, now, don’t even go there [no lie, she did]. That’s completely anecdotal.”
Right, because every person you call says it to you, but it’s never happened to you directly. For me, it’s been the all too real story of my life. To you it’s anecdotal.
But really, that’s when some sobbing but a lot more swearing started. I told Dumbo at first my frustration was not directed at her. By the time I handed the phone to Mr. Shoe, it was totally directed at her.
It turns out, yes, Dr. G was correct in what he told me. He was not thinking wishfully. He knows I will be worse in 24 hours, and my insurance will in fact cover that. Dumbo, however, and her ilk took it upon themselves, having never seen me, to think that no one would get worse from the drugs they were obviously abusing in a 24 hour period so it would be useless and — the kicker — I’d be stuck with a co-pay.
I believe my words were: “Look, lady, I don’t give a flying fuck about the co-pay. $35 is the least of my worries right now, get it?”
She asked if I had seen a psychiatrist. She asked his name. She said, “Oh, I know him. What does he think?”
I told her what he’s told me every time they send me to him, “I wish the rest of the medical profession would get it together and not assume that the first test result that doesn’t pan out like they’d imagined means the patient is mentally ill.” (He also said most neurologists are just crazy assholes. Psychiatrists get a bum rap — it’s the neurologists who are absolutely off their gourds).
Meanwhile, because no one has produced a magic, easy diagnosis in six years, she attempted to do so, naturally, in a fifteen minute phone call. Look, lady, you are calling to tell me you aren’t going to help me. It’s not my doctor’s fault, and as far as I can tell, not my insurance company’s fault — it’s you thinking you know more about medicine and my case in particular than my physician.
And for any Dumbo hospital administrators out there — for the love of god, please do not ever, ever ask someone who has been through six years of this bullshit maze of miscommunication, run around, and in general being a very ill, totally incapacitated hot potato of a patient, “Do you ever watch those mystery illness shows on TV?” when you are calling to tell them you really don’t give a shit that they’re ill and need help (and after implying in several instances they’re abusing drugs).
It’s just plain insulting. Especially when most people get an answer on those shows once they’re rushed to the hospital and it’s unclear if they’re going to live, and finally someone steps up to the plate and figures it out. Dr. G and Dr. R are trying to avoid that. You, my dear Dumbo, are just making it an inevitability.
I expect I will be admitted eventually, as does Dr. R. I am thinking it might be because Dr. G will come back, find out what happened, and the current hospital administration will get an earful. And Dr. R is more than willing to reason with our insurance company — that I am still not entirely convinced is the issue at all.