Friday, September 19, 2014

Healthcare Hijinks--A Rant in Two Parts

To recap, I found a lump, went to the doctor on the 4th of September, had a mammogram and sonogram that day. Scheduled a biopsy for the 9th, got the phone call from hell on the 10th.  Since then I've seen the surgeon and scheduled the MRI and the visit to the oncologist.

It is now the 19th, two weeks after my initial mammogram.  YESTERDAY I got a letter in the mail from the radiology center where I've been poked and scanned without anyone ever telling me that I'm pretty.  The letter referenced my visit on September 4th:  

"As a federally accredited facility we are required to notify you of the results of your recent breast imagine evaluation.  Your examination revealed an area of concern that needs further evaluation at this time." 

Area of concern?  Understatement, much?

The letter was typed up on September 12th, after I'd had the biopsy AND received the results.  From the same facility. 

That concerns me a little.  Yes, I understand that these radiology facilities are huge businesses with 4700 employees, each assigned to a specific task and no other. I am familiar with the medical model--I've seen ER and General Hospital.   However, I'm just me, a single person.  I should have just a single record in that building, right there in their computers, with every single procedure I have ever had with that company.  If the person typing the letter on September 12th had looked at my file, which they would have had to do in order to find my address, they should have noticed that I had had a biopsy three days prior, as well as what the results were.  These people certainly know where I am when it comes time to bill me, but they can't be bothered to update themselves regarding services I've received three doors down the hall in the same building?

"Area of concern", my big behind!  

I've also had enough of trying to schedule appointments.  When I was trying to schedule my biopsy, I was transferred to a person who didn't have their voice mail set up, so it hung up on me.  I called back, explained what happened, and they transferred me again.  Same thing.  After the third time, I got a bit testy, so they put me on hold while they went to investigate...and I got disconnected.  I tried one more time, only to be chastised by the person who answered the phone because obviously I should have spoken to the person who sets up those appointments.  You know, the person who wasn't answering their phone and didn't have voicemail set up?

After I saw the surgeon, I received a phone call from the practice letting me know that orders had been sent to this same facility for my MRI and that they would be calling me to schedule it.  But just in case they didn't call, she said, I was supposed to call them by the end of that day to make the appointment.  I followed her directions, and called at 4pm that day.

"We don't have any orders," the scheduler said.

"Look again," I said calmly, enunciating every word very clearly.  "They said that they sent them to you this morning.  They specifically called and told me that they did, so I could set up the MRI."

"Hold, please."

Three holds later, they still couldn't find the orders.  Really?

"So," I was still calm, but not really. "What am I supposed to do here?  Do I call over to the surgeon's office and yell at them for lying to me? Is that what you're saying?"

"Hold please."

While I was on hold that last time, I decided that I was not enhancing my Chi or whatever by getting angry about things I had no control over.  My need to have everything cancer-related done, finished, and completed as soon as possible so I could move on might never become reality, and I needed to just let go of that.   So I did what I could.  I pictured the Knight from Monty Python's Flying Circus, the one with the rubber chicken, slapping all of them over the heads with the bird. I meditated upon the Hand of God coming forth from the clouds above, smacking those thwarters of my calm upside their heads to reboot their competence. I visualized the large glass of wine I would be drinking once I arrived at home. 

Yeah, I need to work on my visualizations...

Has anyone else had a similar experience with the medical field?  Or is it just me?


  1. This makes me all agitated and stabby feeling. I am a firm believer that there are certain words and procedures that trump all else in the medical world, and while I always expect a certain level of compassion from healthcare providers, these are non-negotiable. Biopsy is on that list, in fact breast alone may be as well. I know the "all's fine" automatically gets generated and sent after mammos, but it never occurred to be that the "not so fine" letter got mailed. In the realm of the medical field covering their asses, this is just poor and pathetic. Sorry, I guess I should go visualize...and I am visualizing cookies...cookies for us, Tina! (well, cookies for you, but it would be rude to make you eat alone right)

    1. Oh, and now I just remembered this said a rant in TWO parts...I am not happy to think that they agitated you more!

  2. Did somebody say cookies?

    I guess healthcare workers are like us some days, not wanting to talk to people or answer the phone. But stil...

  3. It's just you - NOT!!!
    When I was scheduling to have a lump removed from my right breast. I noticed the nurse kept saying left breast. So I corrected her. She was agravated but checked to make sure before telling me I was wrong. I was right. My experiences with healthcare is you need to be on top of what is going on.
    My dad stopped some healthcare workers for taking him for some medical tests because the doctor told him nothing about it. My dad was right.
    A physical therapist told me about the specialized shower I would need to install when my mother broke her hip. This was also off course and I know the physical therapy at the hospital contradicted what my mother received at the rehab center.
    I've got more stories. But hey this is your blog. ;=)
    Anyway, you will be managing your healthcare. Pay attention. If it does not seem right, question politely. I know you will, you're a teacher.
    I will be praying for you kid. Ann

  4. That is so frustrating. No one seems to talk to anyone, but expect everyone to know everything, and you are the one who is stressed out. The medical industry and I are not friends. Sadly, patients are the ones who have to keep track of their own medical information.

    Your Monty Python meditation is genius! Visualize yourself telling a seemingly incompetent doctor's office minion... "your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!"

  5. I think it is deplorable and yes, yes, yes I have had similar experiences but my situation wasn't as serious. It is inexcusable. you do not need more stress right now


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