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no new tale to tell
Feb 21st, 2008 by wrekehavoc

my world is your world. people like to hear their names. i’m no exception. please call my name.

especially if you’re working in a doctor’s office.

today, i went to see a pulmonary doctor on the advice of both my beloved hematologist (AKA the man who saved my life) and the truly caring infectious diseases doctor who is able to procure my gammaglobulin since the aforementioned hematologist could not. i’ve been avoiding this, if only because my brother (AKA Brother The Doctuh), who is not only a medical professional but also has CVID like i do, already listened to my two lung CT scan reports and pronounced the nodules found therein as unremarkable. (actually, in big brotherly speak, he actually said that his nodules were bigger. yeah, he may be a doctor, but he’s still my big brother. i’m sure his crap is bigger than mine, too.)

but i finally broke down and went, as i respect the other two doctors and know that i would be in for a major can of whoop-ass should i not follow up, at least from my hematologist’s nurse practitioner (who has been extremely nice to me, especially when i was basically manic on prednisone and freaking out on her in person.)

i’m sure the doctor in question knows his stuff and is highly respected in his field, but this was not one of my better medical establishment experiences.

perhaps i’m spoiled: everyone at the hematologist’s is nice, from the receptionist (who was working in the back when i was due for my last appointment and stuck a little yellow stickie on my bill with Hi Ms. Wreke! 🙂 🙂 🙂 ; to the hematologist himself (who has called me at home on weekends to touch base about things.) the doctor who provides the IViG is very pleasant and thorough; and the awesome chick who sticks me every four weeks (and who reads this blog, so Hi, Summer!!) rocks — and i’m not just saying that because she comes after me with a sharp object each month, either. my primary care doc listens and cares and knows me for the medical freak i am (let’s see: shingles, ITP, CVID — he is no longer surprised by anything i bring him, and he knows i’m not crazy when i walk in and share something bizarre. plus, he’s from jersey.)

so today, i came in a half-hour early to fill in the paperwork. i brought CDs of my chest CTs as well as my latest blood results and my letter proclaiming that I have CVID. (i was prepared, people.) and, truth be told, the nurse called me in a timely manner to take my temp, weight, height, blood pressure, and even make me take a breathing test. then, i went into a room. and i waited. and read metropolitan home. and waited. and read good housekeeping. and waited. and read child magazine. and waited. an hour after my appointment time (and an hour and a half after i arrived at the office), the doctor came by and told me to come into his office.

why are you here? he asked. well, in truth, i don’t want to be here.

i’m here because my doctors want me to have a baseline experience with a pulmonary doc.

why?

because i have CVID.

is that hypogammaglobulinemia?

yep.

and?

people with CVID end up with bronchiectasis, and since since i have nodules, they want to know how often i should go for scans. the radiologist says twice a year; i am from nj and i don’t want to push my luck since i probably already glow in the dark.

well, i can’t read your radiology CDs — the pop-up blocker won’t let me see anything. this doesn’t happen with the CDs from Radiology Shop X.

you want me to fix it so you can see them? i’m a geek; i can do that for you.

no.

i won’t go into the play-by-play, but i ended up with an x-ray which shows i have some minor bronchiectasis, but nothing screamingly-scary. and the upshot is that i should go for a scan once a year.

what really bugged me, though, was that i was supposed to get a checkup. and i suppose he did listen to me breathe. but every time i tried to tell him about my breathing issues (freaky little things like weather-related asthma, stopping breathing while i sleep — that sort of thing) he ignored me and pushed on, like i was making him late for lunch or something.

you know, i saw the sign when i first walked into the office: if you are 15 minutes late, you will need to schedule a new appointment. what exactly do i get since he was an hour late for me? a cookie? a lotto ticket? a break on my co-pay?

i would understand if i were at the OB-Gyn’s where suddenly, women walk in and start dropping babies. but no one stopped breathing while i was there, not even the elderly man who was just getting over the flu (and who showed the nurse how the cloth bandaids help him repair his portable air tank) and who still made it in to the doctor’s office, along with his wife, also getting over the flu. (thanks for sharing the bugs, people.)

i guess my point here is not to go after sick old men. my point is that i really hate when medical professionals treat me like i am some sort of inconvenient boil that needs to be lanced from the schedule. and it has happened plenty to me in my short but eventful career as a human. i often wonder what this experience feels like to people who are perhaps less educated, or poor, or elderly. does it feel like par for the course?

my brother once told me that people who lacked a decent bedside manner in med school usually went into radiology. i guess there are always exceptions; some don’t go into radiology. and, while i have encountered plenty of radiologists who have the personality of a small soap dish, i have also met radiologists who actually exuded warmth and caring — i’m thinking about times when i had a false mammogram scare, and i’m thinking about a day when i lost a baby.

medical situations can be scary. you can read all you want on the internet, but until you see a live doctor, it doesn’t really all pull together and make sense. so you need to. but it is a disconcerting experience when you come out of a doctor’s visit feeling like you shouldn’t have bothered, as it clearly didn’t matter to the doctor. it really doesn’t take that much to make a person feel like a person.

you know what? he never, ever, called me by my name.


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