Thursday, March 8, 2007

"That's not very damn' funny..." -- Dr. McCoy, Star Trek III The Search for Spock

I am going to swallow hard before I tell you what happened today because if I don't I could go into a tirade and chew someone a new anal apperture. I must chill. "Nobody's perfect."

That said.... I will keep this light and funny because the alternative is too blue with words unbefitting a born-again soul.

I have a new job, and a new insurance plan. Because I do, I can no longer see one of the doctors I was seeing because she is out of plan and it would cost me more. She has been providing one of the two medications I take -- neither of which are earth-shaking: I think almost every other woman I know of my age is on one of them or the other.

When she first put me on this drug (I think it's an ACE inhibitor but am not sure) I began to cough for no reason and went to a throat doctor who asked me if I was on any new medications. I said yes, and told him which one. "Bingo!" he said. "Call your doctor and get it changed to one that doesn't have a side effect of making some people cough." So I did that and all was well.

This was three years ago.

Toward the tail end of last year (probably September/October) I received a letter from the doctor who gave me the first and subsequent drug (or my medical insurance plan, I don't recall which) telling me that the drug was falling off the formulary due to cost and that another, less expensive, substitute would be provided next time I had to refill the prescription. I thought nothing of it.

And started coughing again. For no reason.

Then after I got tired of it again, wondering why it wasn't going away, I asked myself, "What did I find out the last time this happened and I had all those tests?" Ah-ha!!!!

So I called my doctor and reminded her that I can't take this particular drug because it makes me cough -- "So when my prescription runs out, in five days, please put me back on the drug that didn't make me cough, or on some other one that doesn't make me cough." And I told her I now have another insurance plan, by the way.

Oh, she said, my services don't fall under that plan, so you will have to see my colleague who takes your plan and get the new prescription from him. You can meet with him March 26th but before that you need to have blood work and a urinalysis done because it has been quite some time since these have been done and we can't prescribe a new drug until we see you. (My primary care doctor has ordered and reviewed all these tests within the past four months, but I guess they don't count...)

I said, "Fine. I will get the labs done this Thursday." She said, "Fine. I will put the order in with your primary care physician this afternoon." (This was on my birthday, Monday, March 5th.)

So this morning I drank 32 ounces of water (preparation for the urinalysis, so I'd have something to contribute to the urine test, you see) and drove to the lab. I was there just as the door opened and got checked in. I was the first one in but the fourth one called, so by now my bladder is about to burst.

They finally called my name, and I went in and they said, "Kris Smith?" and I said, "Yes?" thinking perhaps now would be a good time to keep my legs crossed until they could hand me a cup, and they said, "We don't have any orders here for you."

I spoke slowly... in disbelief.... "You - don't - have - any - orders - for - me?"

"No, we don't."



They said, "Just a minute. Let me call your doctor."

I said, "That would be doctors -- my primary care physician at this facility and Dr. _______
from _________________"

They called. Of course, at 7:30 in the morning no one was in at either place. "I'm sorry," the lady told me. "I will call them as soon as they get in and get this corrected, but it won't be until 8:30 or 9:00."

I had taken time off a brand new job, on a short-staffed day, to get these test done so the results would for sure be back before the date of my appointment with the new doctor so I could get meds and stop coughing....

So I left... oh, I peed before I left. NOT on their rug... although it was tempting as all get out...

I did a slow burn all the way to work. I would be coughing for three more weeks now, because even though I'll go in again tomorrow for the tests, they won't be run until Monday or Tuesday or sometime next week and I can't get the prescription changed until the results come back... and I can't get the present prescription filled because my current physician probably can't give me a 16 day supply until she, too, sees some lab results... because that's why lifetime meds have refill dates... so docs can monitor changes in their patients (and rake in big bucks for tests and co-pays and insurance...)

But I'm getting ticked again....

So I got back to work and phoned BOTH doctors when their practices opened. Very deliberately -- NOT nastily, but very assertively and deliberately -- so there was no doubt that I had been IN-CON-VEE-NEE-EN-CED, and my place of work had been inconvenienced, and would be again tomorrow because of this "oversight" (F.U.B.A.R.) on their part... I explained:

I was unable to get my tests

I need a refill on my present prescription by Saturday or I need to be able to stop taking it

I need someone to correct these issues with all deliberate speed

and... furthermore and to the point:

I was extremely miffed that I would have to take more time off work tomorrow from a new job where I am desperately needed right now to jump through their hoops a second time just to have a freakin' prescription changed that they should have been aware would make me cough!

And I gave both practices my work phone number so they could call me back and CONFIRM absolutely that the orders will be there when I go in tomorrow for the lab tests -- you know, the lab tests that should have been completed today when I came in...

The specialist doctor's staff swore that she faxed the orders on Monday, March 5th, the moment she got off the phone with me (which she had told me she was going to do the day we talked); my primary care physician's assistant just as assertively swore that she did not receive the orders, and did not know any were coming in for me, so didn't even know to look for them... and anyway, I could have gotten the "usual" tests for my thyroid levels because these are "standing orders" and there is always an order in for these whenever I walk in the door. (I told her she might want to check that out, because the lab worker said she had NO orders for me from either doctor...)

So now I wonder where the orders for the urinalysis and blood work went and who has information about me that they have no right to... so much for HIPAA!

But BOTH promised to talk to each other and to get their stuff together all the while assuring me in soothing tones that I can go in tomorrow feeling utterly confident that I will be able to pee for them and get my blood taken in abundance for every test I need in order to get a substitute prescription that will not make me cough...

So I felt responded to, and all seemed well and I felt confident.

Then I got home tonight and there is a phone message from my primary care physician's nurse asking me to call her... and of course their office is closed by this time of night when I return home...

So I can't call until 8:30 tomorrow morning, which is an hour after the time I'm supposed to be at the lab for testing...

So I am again concerned and a wee bit unstrung. They have my work number... I was there all day long... they were calling me there today... and they leave this cryptic, zero information message on my answering machine at home for me to find after quitting time.

All I can say is the message from my doctor's nurse better have been left early this morning, before we talked and after they found out there were no lab orders for me... because if they are calling me to tell me NOT to go in for tests tomorrow morning, I am going to go postal when I get there tomorrow, and you will find me in a rubber room tomorrow at this time and there will be no more blogs until I serve my term...

Doctor McCoy would never treat a patient this way. I should've stayed with him in Starfleet...

1 comment:

Alison said...

(This refers to the above article about doctors, coughing and peeing)

I have 3 suggestions:

1) Cry, jump up and down and buy a punch bag (they help)

2) Move. Come to Spain. You don't have to go to a Doctor. You just have to know someone who can get the stuff for you!!! Or go to England. The NHS will come and get you for free, treat you for free, and leave you in a corridor to die for free.

3) Next time, urinate on the rug. It should generate a startling chain-reaction of efficiency.

Don't Americans sue for this sort of thing? ;)

I think Dr McCoy would be horrified.