9 Jun

I love love LOVE my medical team, all 72,000 of them. Dealing with their gatekeepers, however, is sometimes another story.

I am a pain in the ass patient, but I know my stuff, am generally gracious, try to thank staff profusely and I have a high level of patience for procedure. However, I have a very low bullshit tolerance.

Take my GI office. Historically, they’ve been wonderful, but the last few weeks have been rocky. It’s definitely difficult to manage your care from another city, it requires efficiency on both ends.

First both they and the insurance company dropped the ball on a pre-approval and now a necessary test won’t be covered at all. My dr has offered to call the insurance and provider himself, which is awesome.

I lost a paper prescription for a non-controlled symptom reliever, so I called asking it to just be faxed in, and the nurse said she’d take care of it. Yay. I call nurse Lois and leave a detailed voicemail, she gets everything answered, then calls me back. I called yesterday asking if it had been called in since my (flaky) pharmacy couldn’t find it, and also to check to if my local doctor had faxed up the most recent blood work.

A transcript of today’s call:

Me: Hello?
Nurse Jackie: This is nurse Jackie from Mondo Gastroenterology. How can I help you?
Me: ….. You called me?
NJ: Yes, you left a message.
Me: Right?
NJ: What can I help you with?
Me: It was in the message…err…checking to see if the script for FeelHuman had been called in and… to make sure Hades sent up the blood work. I think.
NJ: Well when you leave a message we only get name and phone number.
Me: Interesting, since Lois gets the whole message and addresses everything before calling me back.
NJ: Well she’s on vacation and this is all we ever get.
Me: Ok. Different from the last five years. And last week.
NJ: Who said you could have FeelHuman?
Me: The doctor when he wrote it? I lost the paper copy and Lois said she would call it in.
NJ: Who was going to call it in?
Me: Doctor? Lois? I don’t know how it works.
NJ: I’ll have to talk to the doctor to make sure you’re allowed to have it. What about blood work? You were told to get it done every three months.
Me: That’s very frustrating, as that was last week and I’d like it filled.
NJ: Well Lois is on vacation and I see no record of it. You get blood work every three months.
Me: I am aware, I was making sure Hades faxed the *results*, they don’t always.
NJ: We have them. What else?
Me: I guess Doctor hasn’t seen them, yet? Oh! Doctor was going to call the provider abou-
NJ: Your chart has been on my desk. That’s the preauthorization department!!
Me: Noooo, Lois said he was going to call them for me sin-
NJ: Fine. She’s on vacation.

I wanted to scream at her to READ THE FUCKING MANUAL. But I’m a lady, a lady who needs to be liked by the staff, so I didn’t.

All of this information is in my encyclopedic chart. It’s fun to be condescended, especially when you are a WELL established patient and some n00b is unhelpful. When I say well established, I mean that when I call reception, they recognize my voice. My chart is 3″ thick. I’m one of his youngest patients. I fail cutting-edge therapies in dramatic fashion. I am THE GIRL WHO LIVED.

I wish my doctor emailed. He does call me himself, occasionally, at least.

This is a glimpse of all the bullshit chronically ill patients have to deal with. It’s a full-time gottdamn job.


2 Responses to “RTFM”

  1. Jeffrey June 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    It’s amazing people ever get past the front desk let alone find the substitute/temp who can’t find their butt (edited by taste police) with both hands. I sympathize with you (UC 2/3 of colon, 5yrs). Just started reading your blog.

  2. catharineh August 22, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    You are so right, I have excellent relationships with my medical team but their gatekeepers drive me to despair sometimes.

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