Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Guest Post By Melissa

And now for a little something different...

 I am finding, more and more, that patients are not getting the medical care that they are paying for. Patients are being treated like "cases" and not human beings with real, validated concerns and feelings. I used to think that my bad experiences were caused by my own actions and that I was just  being overly sensitive or just wrong in my gut feelings. But, now I'm seeing it happen more and more to others.

The sun was out, so the drive was pretty. When I walked in the house, Rebecca was laying on the couch. I could tell she was in pain, even though she didn't say she was. She is a strong gal and can grit her teeth through physical pain like no one I've ever seen. I'm such a whimp. I moan and groan with even the smallest ache.

Rebecca was changing OB's due to a few reasons, such as  location, preference of hospital, and one-on-one patient care. We stopped by Megan's on the way to the appointment. Megan was letting Rebecca borrow a wheelchair so that she could go places while on modified bedrest. Rebecca said she was nervous. Sitting across from her in Megan's beautiful livingroom, and listening to her talk, I could tell she felt uneasy. I was tagging along for support and to try and help her get some more concrete answers involving several aspects of her health. I didn't know exactly what to do to achieve that, but I was going to do anything I could. Maybe I would remember to ask a question for her that she might forget to ask? Maybe I could coax a better bedside manner out of this doc for her? At this point, I just wanted to perform  my friend duties and be supportive.
We arrived at the OB office. Rebecca went in and I parked the car.

When I went in, Rebecca's bestfriend was sitting next to her. I hardly noticed the other gal sitting with them when I asked Angelina if she was expecting. I got a quick "Hell no!" and then my eyes moved over to the woman with her and noticed her very pregnant belly. I know, oblivious! What can I say? I was a little tired and a little nervous, too, I guess.

It was pretty much the same, typical, run about OBGYN's office chaos going on. Wait 30 minutes, go back and get weight and vitals and give a brief summery of why your there. Go back out into the waiting room and wait an hour before finally getting to see the doc. While we were waiting, I could not help but notice and point out the little girl in the waiting room. She was running around in circles, non-stop, hacking like she was a pack-a-day smoker and coming over and touching Rebecca and I with her drool and snot covered hands. I felt sorry for her. She was dressed in this long shirt that her parents were trying to pass off as a dress. Her diaper was completely exposed, wearing no tights, in 40 degree weather.  She was wearing winter boots, however.

I had stepped out to call my step-son and when I came back in they had called Rebecca back for an ultrasound. When I came into the room, there was baby Iris,  both on the technician's screen and on a television mounted on the wall. This was the second time I got to sit in one of her ultrasounds! How lucky am I?! =)

After a few minutes, the doc came in. He took over the ultrasound. Rebecca had been anxious that he might tell her that she was fine and nothing was wrong when she knew it was. Even if she couldn't get any relief, she wanted some definate answers. And not just answers, but explainations of those answers. Rebecca is not one to just accept a "yes" or a "no". She wants a "what" and a "why". Some people are an "it is what it is" kind of person. I don't think she's one of those. Personally, I think I go back and forth between the two.

Wouldn't you know it? While moving the wand over her belly he said the opposite of what (most of) the docs said at the hospital in Lexington. As he spoke, she looked over at me with a look of mixed emotions. Disbelief, frustration, and kind of a "not again!" look. As the doc kept talking I began to sort of stew. I was also frustrated for her.

The technician turned on the lights and wiped the goo off her belly. She sat up and they continued their conversation. As they talked I sat there and listened and took mental notes. The doctor then kind of changed his mind about what he had said during the ultrasound. Once again, the diagnosis going back to what most of the other docs have said. Then, Rebecca asked the about managing the pain from her galbladder. She mentioned that she couldn't take anything now, as she was taking a bottle of Tylenol a week and her other docs said it could shut down her liver. And, again, like a broken record she heard him say, "Nothing. I don't want you to get addicted to narcotic pain medicine."  I thought she was going to burst into tears. I can't imagine the writhing pain she's experiences for as long as she has!

In my impulsive empathy, I blurted out a matter-of-fact question to the doc. One that Rebecca, herself had pondered on. What came next will be the source of many OMG moments and laughter in the future. This docter snapped at me like cobra. His exact words escape me due to the shock of being yelled at by a person of his caliper. What I do remember is a point when Rebecca said, "Hello! Over here!" and the doctor then told me he wasn't talking to me. That she was his patient and he would talk to her and not me.

Tears welted up in my eyes. I felt belittled for asking an honest question. I had hurt his ego by questioning his professional opinion and he was Hell-bent on putting me in my place! He turned his gaze to Rebecca and I sat back and kept silent. Listening to what he was telling her and planning on apologizing to the doctor at the same time. I didn't want to hinder her care in anyway. It was my intention to do the opposite. That's why I was there in the first place. As soon as he stopped talking to Rebecca, he put his hand on my knee and said he was sorry for snapping at me. He explained himself and I reciprocated the apology. Then, after all of that, he gave her a script for a non-narcotic pain reliever and told her that if it didn't work her would give her hydrocodone or oxycontin.

As confused as this made me, I wasn't going to question it. Rebecca had been in too much pain! Regardless of the reason for his change of heart, I wanted her to get the best care possible!!

As we walked out together with the doc, he was joking with us about me being a good bodyguard for Rebecca. So, it all worked out. I think Rebecca felt better about the level of care with this doc than with the others she had seen. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this will be best doctor and staff for her and Iris.

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