but if you try sometimes…you get what you need

I didn’t go to work yesterday.  I had a horrible time sleeping Thursday night – it felt more like a series of naps than actual sleep.  So I woke up seeing spots and thought “eeek!  Migraine!”  and since it wasn’t going to be a busy day at work and since my new boss had said he’d be ok with me working from home now and then if I wasn’t well enough to come in but was well enough to do some work (eeep!), AND since I had a bunch of labs to get done and more to schedule, I decided to take Friday as a medical day.  It would give me a chance to get some medical stuff done and I could rest too, to make up for Thursday night’s failure.

My day, however, was a series of confounds.  It started with the donut shop.

The donut shop is at the end of my street, which placement practically requires that I stop there for an iced coffee when leaving the house.  Sometimes they are slow, but my body demands its daily AM coffee ration.  On a possible migraine day, it demands it vehemently.  Yesterday they were slow.  Finally, just when I rolled up to the order/menu board, my cell phone rang.  My PCP’s office.  A few minutes later, coffee in hand, I played back the message in the donut shop parking lot.  The contents were this:  Dr. GI will see you at B.A.T.H. on August 30th.  Dr. ENT can’t see you until October 4th.  He’s away for three weeks in September.  This is a bit of a blow.  Here’s an approximation of my donut shop parking lot internal dialog:

I’m used to delays in progression of assessments, but October?  Really?  And I know that at the ENT appointment, the recommendation might be to wait.  I know this because I’ve been through these assessment steps on other matters.  I imagine how I would say “but guys, it’s been 4 months since the ultrasound already…can’t we just skip the mandatory ‘let’s wait and see’ period?”.  Or maybe the ENT doc might recommend a biopsy, but that would take at least a week to get and then several more to follow up on and now we’re moving into November and….jeezus, November?  Plus, my internal dialog continues, October is a super busy time for me at work!  I don’t need to add this shit to it.  God damn, why can’t we just at least move on to the next step now, when absences for medical crap won’t be as devastating?  God fucking damn it.  I am feeling the deep dark despair lurking around the edges here.  But there is nothing I can do about it just then. I resolve to call Dr. ENT’s office when I get home to ask if they have a cancellation list and in the meantime, I try to tuck away the concern and pull away from the deep dark despair so I can get on with doing what I wanted to do today. And off to the lab I go….

Where I find a room full of people.  When it’s my turn up, I realize that the woman checking me in is in training.  Ah.  So that takes a LONG time.  I eventually go in back and am shown to the chair.  I explain briefly that NO ONE wants me in the high-chair for the blood draw because NO ONE likes to have to get me up off the floor.  No, it doesn’t happen every time but it does happen, so let’s stick with the table.  On the table, I wait and I hear the new tech trying and failing to get blood from another patient.  Oops, oh, darn it, now don’t move, really, don’t move.  Nope.  You’re gonna have a bruise there.  

Now it’s my turn.  I show her my arms and explain I just had an IV in one and a blood draw in the other.  “Why didn’t they add these to that draw?” she asks.  “Well…I had called a while back and reminded them I had weekly blood draws right now and suggested if my primary wanted any thyroid function stuff that he could maybe add them on to those but I didn’t hear back from them and he ended up ordering them yesterday, after my last weekly blood draw.”  I don’t add “and I didn’t follow up on my phone call from a while back because I start worrying that I’ll be seen as (and treated like) a royal pain in the ass when I do things like that”.  I should have followed up because my arms are a mess today.  She doesn’t get it on my historically “good” site, fiddles around, then yay, blood….and then my vein does that thing that feels like a cell phone on vibrate, and the tech makes a bad news sound, then tells me “it stopped”, then starts fiddling around again.

At this point, my hands start sweating.  Sign #1 of an impending faint.  I feel bad for the woman but I say “I think we need to stop for a minute, my hands are sweaty.”

And then she does possibly the single worst thing – next to continuing to fiddle – that she could have done.  She takes the needle out.  I didn’t realize just how bad this was until a moment later when she told me that although the blood had stopped for a second, it did start up again.  Are you kidding me?!  I consider that the next time I am in this situation, maybe I shouldn’t worry so much about sounding peevish and say more specifically “If you need to dig around more, you’re going to have to stop and give me a break.”  This time, I had consciously NOT said it like that because I was trying to be nice to someone who was having what looked like a shit day.  I can’t claim fully altruistic motivations here, I have a general rule that you don’t want to piss off the person into whose hands (literally) your body and well-being will be placed.

Finally, after much waiting and much answering to questions about how I’m feeling, I get drawn off a vein no one’s ever used and which hurt like a mother.  And then for the marching orders…what to put in what cup (oh yes, there will be cups and collections).  The waiting room, which has emptied and filled up again while I was not passing out on the table, is full of grumbly people, lead by one particularly mouthy woman who says to every new person who comes in the door variations on “We’ve been waiting for an HOUR!”

And then I’m off, finally, and thinking about what to say when I call Dr. ENT’s office.  And in doing so, I find I’m reflecting on this whole experience in the car and realizing that there is a common theme here – it’s about trying to find the path between being that whiny woman in the waiting room and being the passive patient who just lets stupid shit happen (or who lets important shit fail to happen) because she doesn’t want to ruffle any feathers.  I do not want to be either.  I don’t like bullies and don’t want to be one but also, I have a special personal contempt for the creampuff/doormat behavior.  Sure, my reasons for not wanting to ruffle feathers have a practical flavor and are not just about wanting to be LIKED by everyone but I cringe at even coming close to being an example of that absurdly dysfunctional feminine stereotype.

When I get home, I call Dr. ENT.  “We don’t have a cancellation list,” the woman who answers the phone tells me.  “You can call every day to see if there are cancellations.”  This is annoying….and this is exactly where I sometimes go wrong.  Ok, here goes.  Resolving to push on in a firm but not dickish way, I say “Does he have any cancellations for today?”  “No, he’s not even in this office today.”  Ah…contrastive stress on “this office“!   I ask “What office is he in today?”

“East Buttf–k, he’s there every Thursday and Friday…”

“Do you think he might have an earlier appointment in East Buttf–k?”

She gives me the East Buttf–k number, explaining that they don’t book for that office.  I call, and YES, I get an appointment for August 18th!  Take that October!  Take that confounded day!  I’ll gladly drive all the way out to East Buttf–k to get seen next week.  Hot damn!  Where is East Buttf–k anyhow?  I look it up on google maps while spelling my full name and giving insurance info to the woman in the East Buttf–k office.  It’s 10 miles down the road from the October office.  No shit.  Well, I got what I needed after all, and it only took some self reflection and the discipline not to sway too far into dickishness or creampuffery.

Feeling immensely self satisfied, I call the October office back to cancel and…..I am told that someone JUST cancelled an appointment for August 16th at the October office.   They ask if I want it.  Although taking it would mean being that patient who made all this fuss about what might just turn out to be totally normal, not hot, not cancerous thyroid nodules, I really want to say “YES”.

So….did I take it?

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  1. Hmmmmm? I would have taken the appointment at the closest office. Sounds like a horrible day!

    • It was a pretty ugly day, made decent by the fact that it was Friday and that I did eventually get (not what I wanted but) something approximated what I needed. I stuck with the further out office. Because I can only go so far from cream-puffery it seems, and because New Boss is only in two days next week…one of which is Tuesday the 16th (and the other is not Thursday the 18th). I learned a long time ago that in certain settings, a premium is placed on face time. Being seen at work is at least as important as getting work done (or getting it done well). Silly, but true.

  2. queenofoptimism

     /  August 14, 2011

    I’m so glad you pushed. It seems to be the only way we can get through this bullsh—-. As you once asked me – I hope I don’t sound patronizing by saying I’m proud of you. proud of you for all of this. You keep going. Keep dealing. Keep being amazing. C’mon August 18th or 16th!

    • queenofoptimism

       /  August 14, 2011

      I have a P.S. to this post – “Take that, world of effed-up-ness! Dyspatient just kicked your @$$!”

    • Thanks Queen. Getting there…little by little. There’s no way I could have waited until October on these thyroid lumps.


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