Seething Under the Surface

Today was stressful. I took my 10 pages of blood work orders from Dr. A to my local lab. That poor phlebotomist had to hand-enter all those orders! It took her a long time, and many of them weren’t “standard” labs so she had to look them up and ask for help. The whole time I was watching the clock because I had an appointment with the new hematologist about 90 minutes later. None of this was the lab tech’s fault—I just had no idea how time consuming it would be to have to enter all that info. In the end, she got them all in, took thirteen vials of blood (I believe that’s my personal best so far!), and I was out the door.

And my apologies to my fellow drivers this morning. I was driving too fast; I admit it. I normally don’t speed since I have to drive for a living and therefore can’t have citations on my record. But today I drove like an ass. I’m really sorry. Luckily there aren’t too many people on the road these days.

I arrived at 10:40, which was the exact time of my appointment. I passed all my pre-appointment screenings and was surprised that they wanted more blood work since I just had it checked there last week, but they did… so two more vials. I didn’t get the specific results from the blood work yet today but my hemoglobin was still high enough that I didn’t need a shot. Good news!

Dr. T came in, and immediately I was not impressed. I will 100% admit that my dukes were already up, but he’s the kind of doctor who won’t make eye contact, stares at the computer the whole time, and barely registers that there is a patient in the office. He said, “Okay, so you’ve been following up with Deb [previous hematologist who left] for blood work and Aranesp shots. How often do you want to come and be seen?”

I’m sorry? Why would *I* dictate how often I need to be seen? I asked him that. “Well, you haven’t needed a shot for about a month. Do you want to come in monthly then? Or still come in every two weeks for monitoring?” “Well I don’t know, doctor, what do you think I should do?”

(Seriously, am I the crazy one here? Tell me if I am. I can take it.)

In the end, he opted for my continuing to come in every two weeks for the next year. 

Then I said, “You were supposed to get back to me regarding options for my kidney disease.” “I don’t treat kidney disease.” “Yes I know that [big sigh], but I have a text from you that you were going to look for providers closer to home in case my other plan fell through.” “Well, your nephrologist is the one who should be making those referrals.” “Yes, but I have a text *FROM YOU* stating that *YOU* would get back to me.” “Oh… yeah… well I looked for providers but couldn’t find anyone.”

Yeah I’m going to call bullshit on that one. Sure he did.

I told him I wasn’t surprised that he hadn’t looked into it, that this whole experience has been very eye-opening in how providers will just expect the patient to bear the responsibility of their own medical care.

That got his attention. He looked at me for the first time and said, “We can transfer your care elsewhere if you would prefer.”

Oh nice.

Man that pissed me off. I didn’t even know how angry I was until he said that.

Don’t address the issue of your inaction and poor follow through. Just turf me, the troublesome mouthy patient, on to someone else. Thanks doc.

I may take him up on that at some point but I don’t have the time or energy right now. As he breezed out of the office, he said I don’t need to see him again for a year; he’ll have moved on by then, no doubt.

I hope it’s clear that I am TIRED of battling providers. I don’t look forward to it in the least. I know my defenses are up. I accept that completely. I’ve never been some Pollyanna do-gooder who sees the world through optimistic eyes. I’m jaded and sarcastic and impatient. But this is a whole new level. I’m turning into this bitter shrew who is expecting the worst in these providers; they have to prove their worth to me. I don’t like this at all. I’m exhausted by all of it. Just physically and mentally exhausted. And I have no choice to push on.

But let’s end on a positive note: I got another message from the case manager in Pittsburgh stating that I don’t need prior authorization for the procedures since they are preferred providers. They have to do something called a “medical necessity review” which will ensure my coverage 100% (aside from copays and deductibles) but that she doesn’t anticipate it should take too long. I’ve lost all frame of reference of what “too long” means anymore, so I just have to roll with it.

Hemoglobin: 10+

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