Saturday, August 31, 2013

Asshole Patients Aren't Born, They Are Made by Medical Care

I finally got a hold of someone at the big GI clinic and they promptly told me I had to see a primary care physician and get a referral.

And I lost it.

I'd been calling this place for three days. They said in their message they would call back in 24 hours and they never did.

And now I had to see a primary doctor when my insurance doesn't even require a referral?

Fuck that shit. (Fair warning, I will probably swear a lot from here on out, shield your delicate sensibilities.)

I got really bitchy and super snarky.

"Gee, I hope there's nothing serious happening with my pancreas. I have active abdominal pain and a CT scan showing something on my pancreas and you want me to let that fester for the 60 days it's going to take for me to go through your primary care to get to the GI clinic. That's just awesome. Is this really the amazing world class medical care mentioned in all your commercials or is that just false advertising?"

I felt kind of bad as I went off on the lady, but I'd spent a fucking week at this point dealing with this stupidity. No one I spoke to all week had a fucking brain in their head.

Luckily, me being aggressive turned out to be a good thing because guess what? I didn't have to see a primary care doc in their system to go to the GI clinic. They were wrong and if I'd been nice, I would've been screwed by this chick and her ignorance.

I still didn't get an appointment though. I'm on some kind of urgent waiting list.

And I somehow missed a call from the other GI doctor. They didn't leave a message, but why do I have the sinking feeling the one appointment I managed to get on the books is about to be canceled?

Anyway, I've decided there's just no reward for being nice or professional. From here on out I'm unleashing my inner bitch. I will complain louder. I will throw fits. If people don't call me back, I'm going to their office to leave a message in person. I've had it. Being nasty seems to be the only thing that yields any results.

Sad but true.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Motto of Clinics Everywhere: You Can Call Us, but We'll Never Call You

Hey, it's Friday and I'm still trying to line up medical care. Can I tell you how awesome it has been to make call after call, to be sure to have my phone always on me just so I can hear the silence of no one calling me back?

I am living the dream, people!

The situation is absolutely disgusting. I should probably write some letters complaining. Would it change anything though? I don't know.

I had similar run around issues getting the adrenal stuff diagnosed and treated. Endocrinology wouldn't see me without an internal referral (my insurance doesn't require one, but the hospital likes to think they are Kaiser Permanente or something) and Primary was like 'why do you need an endo? You want a referral for what?' while the pulmonologist, who had prescribed the steroids and done this to me in the first place, was 'why are you calling me? What do I have to do with this?'

Long time readers will recall I couldn't even finagle a blood test for HPA Suppression until six months after it started. (As a reminder, cortisol at 9 am was a 6 and ACTH was less than 5 and that was with 10mg of prednisone in my bloodstream, which, supposedly, artificially propped up my cortisol level.)

Something is really wrong with medical administration. The only time I can ever get an appointment is if it's 4 to 6 months in the future. Acute or urgent anything is shit outta luck.

I did end up with one appointment next week with my current GI. That finally got squared away on Thursday.

Of course, by then, I had called the fancy schmancy 'when we cut patients, they don't even bleed' pancreas clinic.

Now they haven't called me back. I'm on day three of trying to get a hold of them.

I am feeling like I want to leave my GI doctor, but there may be no place for me to go.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How Medicine Kills Patients

I spoke to two nurses yesterday who all sent messages to primary care. Nothing happened.

Still never heard back from GI.

Then, this morning, got a call from Primary Care. They referred me to GI.


Anyway, Primary said my GI doc was out of the office, which is why I never heard back (allegedly) but they sent an urgent message to GI on my behalf so someone will see me asap (theoretically). Why the receptionist on Monday couldn't tell me any of this, I don't know.

Of course, when I called GI as instructed by Primary, my doctor is in and seeing patients. They even had an opening this morning, which, naturally, I missed.

BUT the person on the phone seemed half way competent and paged the GI doctor. They actually seemed to think this pancreas thing warranted some urgency. Hallelujah.

For my part, I called the hospital and requested they fax my CT scan stuff over, which they did the second I asked.

It's still going to take me the better part of week to get any medical care.

Sad to say, I live in an area with several major medical systems too. It really shouldn't be this hard.

I did find a pancreas clinic in town that might be a good stop for me in the near future.  They do coordinated care across specialties which sounds like heaven. I wonder if they return calls when established patients call?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Shouting in the Void

I'm still trying to get a hold of a doctor. At this point, any MD will do.

GI never called me back.

Primary Care's call center couldn't handle my request to speak with a nurse so I could sort out anything. I asked three times to speak to a nurse in my doctor's office and they couldn't compute.

They passed me off to the general call center who sent a message to Primary Care.

And one of the biggest criticisms of nationalized healthcare is no one will be able to see a doctor.

Well, I have have insurance in a private system and I can't even get anyone on the damn phone.

It's not the first time either.

There's not much difference between me and the uninsured right now. My main source of medical care is the ER at this point.

On the upside, I've been following a liquid, soft food low fat diet which has helped. Although, I'm starving as a result. Not to mention eating too much sugar, because low fat is also high carb by default.

There's a hospital system with same day appointments. If I can't get any response from the network I've been relying on today, I'm switching.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Crazy Town Full of Surprises

So, after I gained control of the asthma, I then caught a cold. Primarily due to stress. Both our elderly dogs tried to die three days before we were due to leave town on vacation. The sickest dog, of course, fell apart on Friday, which made it tough to find medical care.

Two vets and $1500 later...we had a wait and see situation. It looked like he had cancer in his spine or he might recover the ability to walk and be fine (don't you love medicine? So specific!). Since he needed to be crate rested, we boarded him with the second vet we saw on Saturday and went on vacation with heavy hearts.

However, the process of figuring all that out, going from 'we need to put him down' to 'he might be okay' really put my heart through the wringer. We had tickets to a Broadway play the night before we had a game plan and I was sobbing in our box seats before, during and after the play.

It was a comedy.

I made my husband cry.

Fun times.

Fortunately, our yellow lab is doing better. We don't know how long we'll have him around, though. His spine problems are pretty severe and he is advanced in years, meaning we aren't going to do much more than make him comfortable at this point in his life. For now, we're just focusing on loving him and plying him with delicious treats without making him fat (which he's on prednisone, so that's kind of tricky, but we're trying).

The stress, though of getting him squared away, took its toll. A few days into our vacation, I was sick. The asthma was bad with the cold, but I pulled through on my own with just the Symbicort and Albuterol. I did flirt with needing prednisone, but, thankfully, the asthma improved.

So vacation ended and we came back home where I had a routine blood pressure follow up. Well, routine quickly went out the window as I was diagnosed with a hernia that likely will need surgery.

Oh-kay. Did not see that coming, but it does explain a lot.

Unfortunately, after the physical exam where the doc shoved my gut this way and that, I had escalating abdominal pain. By last night, I couldn't even lay down without excruciating pain. Sitting and standing were better, but still with lots of heaviness and a dull ache.

I kept trying to go to bed, but the pain was too bad I couldn't stay flat. So I went to the ER convinced I was the beginning of the next Aliens movie.

Just because nothing can ever be simple, they couldn't find any reason for my abdominal pain except maybe I had early pancreatitis and.... the CT scan shows something on my pancreas.

In case you didn't know, that's pretty bad ju-ju. You don't want things on your pancreas. Ever.

They didn't say cancer. They said I need an MRI for a closer look.  (Let's all hope they weren't just being tactful.)

And it might not even be the source of my pain anyway.

Which I still have, although my abdomen did let me lay down finally around 5am this morning.

Naturally, my GI doc is booked through October. Apparently, they either don't have emergency appointment slots or I don't warrant one. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Week Later...

The asthma is mostly under control now. I put myself on bed rest the day before if finally came to heel. Day-to-day-life was just making things worse. I would have acute asthma for 7-8 hours a day, would get a short break and then it would kick back on again at night--all because I took the car to the mechanic, went grocery shopping, stopped at the bank etc... I need to do a better job of slowing down and resting more when the asthma acts up.

This was probably the most serious non-illness related asthma I've ever had. I could feel the swelling in my lungs, feel the margins narrowing.

Anyway, I can mostly breathe now. I started walking again and will build back up (again, sigh) to something tougher.

I'm still hypersensitive to smells which can trigger the asthma despite more than tripling the inhaled steroid dose I started out with.

Sleep is also a little weird and I'm tired as a result. It's better than it was, but the change in steroid dose is not without side effects.

So, as a result, this past week has mostly been sick time for me. I did some writing, but mostly just gave myself permission to take a break. I was too tired to feel bad about it.