Pavlov’s Dog

This will mostly be me complaining (again) but there is some good stuff at the end. Skip ahead if you want. 

I have a video visit with Dr. A tomorrow. In preparation for that, Thursday of last week I went to Tri-Core labs for blood work, urine sample, and to get the giant container for the 24 hour urine collection. My plan was to do the urine collection Thursday morning through Friday morning, then drop back off at the lab at some point on Friday. 

Except… there was no order for the 24 hour urine. The orders for the blood work and random urine collection were there so we proceeded with that. I had to get to work, so as soon as I could, I messaged the doctor asking if I was supposed to have had an order for the 24 urine collection (I knew the answer was yes), and if so, she needed to submit it. Her assistant messaged back and said they would be sending it shortly. 

Well dang. That kind of screwed up my original plans. For whatever reason, the timeline on the 24 hour collection is pretty exact. You can’t just start it at any time of day that’s convenient. It has to be started at 7:00 am and end the next day at 7:00 am. Don’t ask me why.  

So Friday I went back to the lab, got there before 7:00 when they opened but there was already quite a line. By the time I got called up and told them what I needed, they said they were very busy so they’d find the order later, and they just gave me the container. Uh… why didn’t they just do that the day before? No one offered that up, and I didn’t know that was an option! Normally, they generate a sticker with my info on it and put it on the container. This time she told me to just write my name and date of birth on it with a Sharpie. Okay, fine, but … I could have done that YESTERDAY! Oh well. 

Now… I knew that this particular Tri-Core lab location was no longer open on Saturdays. They’ve closed most of their labs on the weekends now. They’ve blamed this on COVID. (Can anyone explain to me why lab hours would be affected by this virus?? They are not doing COVID testing at that particular site. Just a convenient excuse.)  I asked for the names of the two locations that are open on Saturdays and was told it would be no problem to drop off the container at a different facility. 

But of course nothing is ever “no problem.”  When I went to drop off the container at the Atrisco location, the lab tech said the order wasn’t in the system. I said it was faxed over.  BUT… what I didn’t realize is that faxed orders don’t get entered into the system–I stupidly assumed they did. She left the room for a minute and came back and said, “I didn’t see any faxes for this order.”  I said, “Right. It was faxed to the Paradise location.” I didn’t realize when she left the room that’s what she was looking for.

Well now she was really stumped. She clearly didn’t want me to leave the container with her but I was determined to do so. I asked if she would please call the Paradise location on Monday and have them fax the order to the Atrisco location. “I don’t work on Monday.” BIG SIGH. “OKAY CAN SOMEONE CALL THEM ON MONDAY MORNING AND ASK THEM TO FAX THE ORDER HERE?” “Well I can leave a note. Can’t you just drop it off on Monday?” “No, I can’t. I have to be on the road at 6:00 am, and they open at 7:00.”  “Oh. Well, I’ll leave a note and hopefully someone will follow up on it.” That sounded encouraging. 

When I got home, I called the Paradise location hoping I could just leave a message for them to fax the order over. But no. You can’t leave a message; that would be too easy. It just rolls over to their main system, and after a long wait, I spoke with a woman there and explained the situation. She said, “You could have gone to our Highland location today. They’re open until noon on Saturdays.” “How does that help me if the order is at Paradise?” “Oh. [Long pause.] Yeah. I guess you’re right.” She said she would send an email to both locations and, same as before, “hopefully someone will check it. But I can’t guarantee this is going to work.” I said, “Oh I have NO faith that it will work. None at all.” 

I messaged Dr. A with this information because it was partly her fault for not submitting the request to start with. I think next time this happens (and there will be a next time), I just won’t say a word. And when the doc asks about it, I’ll just say there was no order for it. Granted, this only shoots me in the foot, because I need this info, but it could be a full time job trying to follow up on all this crap. 

Monday morning at 7:15 I pulled off the road in Socorro and called the lab to follow up. I called Paradise but again my call was routed to their central location. I explained that I needed to speak to someone at Paradise. He said he would call them and transfer me. After quite a long wait, he said that no one is answering the phone. 

One thing I’ve learned is the value of the silent pause. After he said that, I just said nothing. It can be a bit awkward–but effective. After a bit, he said, “Do you want me to try again?” “Yes please.”  And lo and behold I was finally talking to someone at the Paradise location. So far I’d been on the phone for 20 minutes. The lab guy checked the faxes… guess what? Still no order from Dr. A. But. Of. Course. I asked him for their fax number and for the fax number to the Atrisco location. He couldn’t find that and told me I’d need to call them. I said, “I’ve been on the phone for 20 minutes, and I’m at work. Would you call them, get their fax number, and leave it on my voicemail?” And you know what? He actually followed through and did it! I was amazed! 

When I got to clinic about an hour later, I sent yet another message to Dr. A stating that no order had yet been received and requested that it be faxed to both Atrisco and Paradise.  Her assistant responded that she had faxed it. But who knows. I’m done following up on it.  Just over it.

But the problem is… ME. I immediately get disgusted with this stuff. I have ZERO patience for this crap anymore. I’m tired of having to follow up on everything when it’s actually someone’s (paid) job to do the follow up.   They’ve just conditioned me to expect that something is going to get screwed up–and they rarely disappoint. I try really hard not to take it out on the person in front of me because I’m fully aware that the lab tech isn’t responsible for the decision to close most of the labs on Saturdays. And it’s not the fault of the guy on the other end of the phone that either the doc didn’t fax the order or the order wasn’t received for whatever reason.

But it’s ALWAYS SOMETHING. Every damn time. It’s hard to have confidence in the medical system when things continually fall apart. And it’s also just tiring–and time consuming! I’m not looking for something to go wrong, but I damn sure expect that it will. When something goes right, like that guy calling me back with the fax number, I’m completely shocked.

I’m going to have to figure out a way to deal with this because nothing’s going to change.  

And as of today, I’ve gotten no notifications that my lab work is back. My giant container of pee is probably still sitting in the fridge at Atrisco. Nice. Hopefully no one mistakes it for orange juice.

I still can’t taste food. Still have moonface. Dammit. I’ve started on fluconazole for the thrush so I’m hopeful that helps with the taste issue. Dr. A suggested I make an appointment with an ENT. Sure, I can do that. It will probably only be five or six months before I can be seen (no exaggeration).

Good news, as promised: my blood pressure is still great on the lisinopril, and to date, no allergic reaction. I’m hopeful that I can start slowly cutting out the other meds as long as my BP stays low. The other very good news is that the swelling in my lower legs is nearly gone and my knees have improved quite a lot. Still a little swollen but not like before. I didn’t wear the knee braces at all this week, and I had no issues. Very happy about that! I’m currently on 7.5 mg of prednisone and will continue tapering down for one more stinkin’ month–then I will be DONE with that evil drug! That will be a good day.

Here’s a blast from the past:

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