Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Physician Encounter Form

The sling on my arm is navy blue and I worry briefly about the fact that my dress is black because, you know, you never wear navy and black together. I get up at six to make it to my appointment with Dr. Cooper at 9:45, knowing it will take me an hour to get that dress past my arm and the sling back on. I leave on my sixty-mile drive at 8:00.

I cannot take anything for the blinding pain because I must drive. I draw from a stable of mostly useless techniques learned over three years of therapy in pain control and hope I can maintain the level of concentration needed for them.

I arrive 45 minutes late for my appointment because they have shut down I-40 through Knoxville. I know this but am not worried because they supposedly put signs up. I couldn't find any signs. I get terribly lost.

The office staff at Dr. Cooper's office decides a punitive approach is called for to deal with this overweight woman who had the temerity to show up late in her badly clashing dress and arm sling.

Mind you, by this point, because of being lost my ability to ignore the pain in my arm is greatly diminished.

I apologize and explain that the signs and billboards were not there at Strawberry Plains.

"Yes, they were."

"No they weren't--or at least they weren't where I could see them."

I know this because I slowed down there to scan the billboards looking for the directions.

"Well, you just didn't see them. They were there," she snips nastily at me.

They talk among themselves behind the glass before threatening me with rescheduling. I can tell that they are indignant in the way office workers can be with the stupid people they have to deal with every day. I am that stupid person. Their stupid person of the day.

They tell me to sit down.

At this point my composure breaks as the last shred of control over my pain evaporates. I am too fragile and hurt to deal with their punishment. I grab a box of tissue and begin to do the thing I fear most. Weeping in public. I'm terribly embarrassed by it but I can't help it and I can't stop it. The pain in the arm is now completely out of control.

But they have not had their fill of punishing me yet. They call me over and tell me the doctor will see me but it will be the last appointment of the morning. I am fine with this. They refuse to give me any sort of time frame--at this point I'm wondering about how much worse the arm will get.

I go back to my chair and my crying. I still can't stop it even though I try pressing my thumb and forefinger hard into my forehead--so hard it leaves marks. I am unable to cause a pain equal to or greater to the pain in my arm. I would need a knife to do that.

An elderly woman comes up to me with a box of tissue. The waiting room is full of elderly people because Dr. Cooper is an internist.

"I know you already have some tissue..." she starts, having exhausted all other excuses to approach me, "but you seem to be having a hard time."

She is sweet and generous and lovely and I cannot possibly regain my composure when someone is reaching out to me. You see, all I really want to do is stop hurting and crying.

But now I feel I must console this lady because she is upset for me.

She's done something quite brave since, for all she knows, I may not be an overweight woman in a black dress and mismatched arm sling having a bad day--I could be a dangerously unbalanced overweight woman in a black dress and mismatched arm sling about to have a psychotic break.

I try to explain that I'm late and my arm is so painful I can't concentrate--it makes no sense at all what I blurt out to her. So I thank her for her concern and there we are--me, sitting and crying and her standing there looking concerned but not knowing what to do. We are at an impasse.

At this point the office staff becomes concerned that I'm upsetting the old people. They hurriedly hand me a piece of paper and send me back. I tell them it's okay and I'm sorry for crying. I don't want to take anyone's place. I get it. Really I do. I was 45 minutes late and I deserve to be punished.

It was a short visit. They didn't want to see me again. I'm sure it's going to be a dreadful black mark on my record. They write up these things called patient encounter forms. I'm sure this one will be entertaining reading.

And it's all my fault for being late, lost, in pain, unable to stop crying and wearing a black dress with a navy blue arm sling.


  1. Mike Golch said...
    My My My if that is the worst of your "crimes"than piddle on that ataff for being mean to you!
    Anonymous said...
    ya, what Mike said!

    Missybw said...
    I am so sorry about this latest. Hopefully they found something out about the arm. Just stay put, take meds, and rest. Your body and mind need that more than anything.
    BTW - Dr. office staff is the worst. Srsly of the suck. And your problems with Smartfix40 are pretty common. Doesn't make it better, but it's not uncommon.
    Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...
    It sees in your free enterprise medicine the "customer is not aways right". In our "socialist" system for all its waiting, the most ill get served first and their is a patient advocate to speak up for you and your needs.

    I feel badly for you. You need someone to stay with you for a while and minimize your stress. i don't suppose they have short term home care where you live.
    Mary said...
    Did you ever see the Seinfeld where Elaine gets labeled "difficult" by her doctor on her record, in the end she tries to even see a Vet.

    I am so sorry you have met with this level of Non Compassion.

    So what did they say about yer arm?

    Erica said...
    Yo, Rosie...I gotta be honest, I'm kinda wanting you to give me the number of that doctor's office so's I can give them a piece of my mind. Who the f**k are they?? They don't make for allowances for somebody being late? And then, when you're on time, they woulda made you wait 45 minutes!

    I'm really annoyed that this happened to you, and I *totally* relate to the whole "last shred of control" evaporating thing, and think that they're a buncha horses behinds for being insufferably mean, insensitive and horrible.

    There's no reason for it and I really, really wanna believe that the Laws of Karma will turn on their sorry asses and the door will swing back at them in a way they don't much appreciate. No excuses, and kudos to the old lady, but I'd like to see your arm get better most of all.

    I hate hearing about bad shit that you go through, though, and think you deserve a lot of happiness in your life. You're such a sweet, talented, wonderful, awesome person, and it just ain't right that you have to go through this crap.

    Anyhow, my $0.02.
    Margy Rydzynski said...
    Damn. Sounds like a story should come out of this somehow. Something, anyway! I'm amazed you could drive, and that great a distance too.

    Hey, I've got two blogs-full of people worried about you!

    Hugs, Margy
    Jo said...
    I can't say it any better than what Erica did. You know as well as I do that they could have slid you right in and not disrupted their precious schedule in the least.

    I am finding that the older I get the less tolerant I am with crab happening like that.

    Bless your heart Rosie, I wish I was close enough to come over and tend to you myself. I will do the next best thing and send you as much positive energy as I can muster.
    Leeuna said...
    Rosie, I hope you feel better real soon. I can't add anything to what has already been said here from your other blog friends, except maybe "amen".
    Take care and get well. We love ya!

    threecollie said...
    Wish things were better for you
    Jbeeky said...
    Oh Rosie, they should not have treated you like that. Why is it that your vulnerability had to bring out the worst in them? I am so sorry sweetie.
    Cubby said...
    Oh, beware of small people with a small amount of power...
    Anonymous said...
    Rosie I am so sorry! In Canada, we many have some longer wait times, although I have not experienced it, but, like Tossing Pebbles said, we do have "Patient Care Advocates". I was that person at our hospital and clinic for several years, and I can tell kept me busy. I will also tell you, that hospital staff and clinic staff, were nervous if ever someone called me.

    I really wish you had someone to go to talk about his with. Its grossly unfair to be left in that kind of pain, and to be treated such as well.


Post a Comment