Monday, October 26, 2009

New Doctor Visit

Doctors call them "new patient visits." I call them "new doctor visits." So, what happened with my doctor's appointment? Well, I was fantasizing that I was going to get everything resolved in one fell swoop, thus only having to take a minimum amount of time off from work. However, the real world doesn't work that way. I also had high hopes of finding a new doctor who is compatible with my personality close to home.

When I arrived for my appointment, I was met with an empty waiting room and a closed reception desk. I figured it was the end of the lunch hour. The reception desk had a mirrored window, so I couldn't tell if someone was behind it. I stood there and waited, but no one opened the window, so I sat down in the waiting area. Eventually, a medical saleswoman walked up and stood there, and the window opened for her. I got up to go talk to the receptionist, and had the window slammed in my face. So, I sat back down. Then a doctor in scrubs arrived and the window opened for him, but closed as soon as I approached. This was bizarre. After 15 minutes of waiting from the first time they slammed the window in my face, and no one calling me up, I knocked on the window.

A woman opened it, I told her my name and said I've been waiting for about half an hour. (I arrived 15 minutes before my appointment to give me time to fill out the new patient paperwork, but no one was in the office at the time, as far as I could tell.) She just handed me a clipboard filled with paperwork. It took me another half hour to fill it out. This appointment was not getting off to a good start.

The nurse called me in, got my weight and height, took my blood pressure, and asked why I was there. I started in on my list of health problems I've had over the past six weeks, and while I was right in the middle of explaining my symptoms, she just got up and walked out of the room, closing the door behind her. WTF!?!

At this point I was thinking, if this doctor does not listen to me, I'm just walking out of here and never coming back. I'll find another doctor. I'm tired of being cut off by hurried health care workers. I mean, do they want to help me or not? Even when I called to set up the appointment, the receptionist wouldn't let me explain why I was calling. Though I did tell her I was sick now, she set up the appointment for me 3 weeks later.

So, I was just hoping that this doctor wouldn't be a good looking young man, because I had some really personal, really disgusting stuff to discuss with him. He walked in, and he was this nice looking African American man with a very skeptical, intellectual personality. There was nothing cold about him, but nothing particularly warm either.

He asked me what's going on, and I started talking as fast as I could in hopes that I could get it all in before he cut me off or walked out of the room. Before I could finish my list, he rolled his eyes and sighed. I stopped dead in my tracks, because I knew there was no point continuing on. I purposefully left several symptoms off my list, because he clearly didn't have the patience to hear it all.

For one set of symptoms, he basically said he didn't want to deal with that and referred me to another doctor. Argh! I was purposefully trying to consolidate everything into one appointment. For another set of symptoms, he won't do anything until he's run a blood panel, so that's another appointment at the laboratory. Once the blood panel comes in, he wants me to come back to see him to discuss all my symptoms again, but he's betting they will all have gone away by the time that happens.

I explained that it is difficult for me to get a lot of time off from work, so he said he'd try to work with me on that, such as making the second appointment a phone call, but it all depended on the lab results. These are all lab tests I've had run before, and they always come back negative. I don't expect them to turn up anything other than high cholesterol.

He then said he wanted to be frank with me. He felt that all of my symptoms were a chain reaction from stress and anxiety. He said, "Just by looking at you, I can see that you probably have an anxiety disorder."

I was like, "WTF?" Then I realized that he was referring to my essential tremor. I explained to him that my head shakes all the time due to this neurological condition. He didn't even know what it was. I had to explain that it was hereditary. He also misheard the name of one of the medications that I was on, and thought I was referring to an anti-anxiety drug, when in fact I was referring to a blood pressure medication.

So, this whole time the guy was dismissing what I was saying, because he thought it was all in my head. I've been shaking for so long that I forget that people who meet me for the first time are a bit taken back by my appearance. They make all kinds of assumptions about me being anxious and nervous, not understanding that I shake all the time due to a hereditary condition.

Once I cleared up that misunderstanding, he wanted to run through my symptoms again from a different perspective. In analyzing my dizziness, he explained that there are two types. In one, the room spins and your eyes jerk off to the side. In another, you are light-headed and feel faint. I said I had both. He said that made no sense. The first one is a sign of an inner ear infection while the second is a sign of pulmonary problems. I said, "I don't know what to say. I get light-headed, feel faint, and the room spins."

He insisted it couldn't be both. Criminey! I'm not lying. Why would I lie? Does he think I get a kick out of wasting doctors' time? There must be a lot of hypochondriacs out there for so many doctors to be dismissing so easily what their patients say.

He tried one test, but couldn't get an accurate result due to my head shaking. He did another test that ruled out a blood pressure drop as the cause of my dizziness. He's thinking I may be anemic, and the blood work should tell us that. He then started asking me about my job and went back to his theory about stress and anxiety. He said that with the economy being as bad as it is, he's seeing a lot of health problems triggered by economic stress.

We had a long talk about both my job and his. He confessed some of his gripes about the medical industry and explained how he likes to run his office. It sounded to me like he was a bit of a control freak. However, one thing I did like about him was that when we both spoke at the same time, he always stopped and let me go first. That's a rare trait to find in people. Most people will just talk right over me.

When all was said and done, I got to my car and realized that we got sidetracked with all this stress and anxiety talk, and I never had him evaluate whether my hernia needs surgery! Argh! All he did was listen to my heart and lungs. He never examined my pelvis, though I have a hernia and stabbing pains in there. I explained to him that I once had a massive cystic terratoma removed along with an ovary, and had a 50% chance of getting another one growing off the other ovary. Many of these symptoms are the same as what I experienced when I had the terratoma. Swear to God -- he said, "What's a cystic terratoma? Is that a tumor?"

Uh, yeah. It's a really big one that grows quite fast and messes with your internal organs by putting pressure on them. Might explain why I have to pee every 15 minutes.

This is so typical of my doctor's visits. I even had a list in front of me and still forgot to check it before leaving. I think I was so taken back by the number of misunderstandings this doctor had with me that I forgot all about the hernia. I guess I'll have to cover that at my next freakin' visit or talk to the other doctor about it. I'm running out of options for doctors. There's only one other general practitioner in my area.

My husband suggested that I need to find myself a good female doctor, because his mother could never get a decent exam and diagnosis out of male doctors. In her case, they always prescribed anti-depressants for everything. She was labeled as a hypochondriac and treated for "hysteria" every time she saw a male doctor. The truth was that my mother-in-law has had some pretty serious health problems over the years that got brushed under the rug by doctors who judged her too quickly and were never willing to explore the physical aspects of her complaints.

My gynecologist is an excellent female doctor, but my insurance company will not allow me to use her as my primary physician anymore. I have to take all non-gynecological issues to a general practitioner or internist. Ironically, this internist just turned around and referred me to my gynecologist. It's so stupid how patients get bounced around among doctors, thus draining even more money out of the insurance system. It's almost as if the insurance companies are shooting themselves in the foot. It only costs me five bucks per doctor's visit, so money isn't the issue for me. The issue is time. I'm going to have to spend a good chunk of the next two weeks in doctor's offices and laboratories at a time when each employee's work hours are under close scrutiny, because company management has set its sights on trimming the fat.

P.S. Sorry for the non-horse-related post, but sometimes I find that we get some of the best discussions going when I get off topic. Any other medical horror stories out there?


Katharine Swan said...

Oh, medical horror story first! Well, a minor one. My first endocrinologist after I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes once told me he thought I was type 1 and type 2, because of all the problems I was having controlling my sugars every other month. It turned out to be that he had neglected to tell me one of my insulins went bad after a month -- I was using it until the bottle was gone, which took 2 months. Sure, I should have read the instructions, but he also should have made sure he checked things like that before he started tossing around diagnoses and new prescriptions.

But seriously, NM, we need to have a talk about assertiveness. You sat down in the waiting room, rather than making your presence known, not once but twice -- and the second time after someone else was helped as soon as they walked up to the window?! You have GOT to make sure people don't push you around like that!

Reddunappy said...

Oh yeah Nuzz Muzz, I know how you feel. Doctors want to go through things so fast and on to the next patient.
I had brain tumor surgery in March of 08, so I have had a lot of Doctors! And two months in the hospital after the surgery. We have Keiser Permanente insureance now and its been pretty good. Some of the nurses seem harried, but the Docs have been good.
Good luck,finding a good Doctor.
I really doubt Obama can do anything about the rut our medical system has gotten into, but I am watching!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

John has to be work for the trucking company for 6 months, so we've been without insurance now for 5 months. After reading your personal experience with that doctor it just reconfirms why I avoid doctor visits except for emergencies. ugh!

Of course, living without any insurance is also very scary, too, which is why I do the bare minumum with my horse and haven't even considered riding any horses at all.
It's most worrisome with the kids, so I've been keeping them under close wraps so they aren't exposed to many opportunities to get hurt.

I'm sorry you're having to deal with such craziness. I bet you just want a doctor to come in, take you seriously, and give you good health-care options.


Paint Girl said...

I totally know what you mean by doctors always trying to say we have anxiety or depression.
Years ago I went to my doctor because I was tired all the time. They did the whole blood work up and when I went back for the results everything came back normal. So guess what my doctor proceeds to tell me? That I am depressed and he wanted to put me on an anti-depression medication. I nearly laughed in his face. That very night I had my first ever anxiety attack, probably from the doctor telling me that I was depressed, so I started questioning myself and thinking that if he told me I was depressed than I must really be depressed. Guess what? That was the last time I ever saw that doctor. And no, I am not depressed, nor have I ever been. So much for a diagnosis! Never did find out why I was so tired all the time.
I have made numerous DR visits throughout the years due to surgeries, pneumonia, bronchitis, and all they do is rush you in and out. I feel the same way you do.
Last year when I had pneumonia, I went in to my regular doc for a checkup after my initial emergency room visit, and I was a little emotional, I get that way when I don't feel good, the doc said I must have something else going on if I was so emotional. It was like she didn't care that I didn't feel well, and basically sent me out the door.
I so feel your pain. I hope you can find a good doctor, and one that will listen to you, and hopefully one that knows medical issues! What is this world coming to? Good luck!!!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Katharine - So sorry you've got to deal with diabetes. What I didn't explain in my story was that the two people who were acknowledged by the receptionist before me were a salesperson and a doctor. I thought they were closing the window on me, because they weren't ready for patients yet. Now I just think they had their heads stuck up their butts.

Reddunappy - You had better had good, kind, patient doctors. Brain surgery is nothing to sneeze at. I've found that I get rushed around until someone finds something serious, and then I get the doctor's undivided attention, because he/she doesn't want a malpractice suit if I die.

Lisa - Oh my gosh. Things must be pretty desperate for John to not only talk a job where he can't see his family, but to take one that doesn't offer health insurance. I really hope the job market improves soon, so your family can get some normalcy in your lives.

Paint Girl - You know, my father's doctor prescribed anti-depressants to him every time he showed up in her office with a different complaint. It turned out that he had cancer in every organ and bone in his body! I went to go visit him and could just tell he was dying, so I took him to a hospital. I didn't even fuss around with that stupid doctor who passed off every ache and pain as old age. Anyway, my father died two weeks after I checked him into the hospital. At least I can tell the medical community that anti-depressants don't cure cancer.

Laura said...

Well, first off, I'm sorry to hear that you aren't feeling well.... Secondly - I can't believe that dr! Why wouldn't he listen? I would imagine that a dr. could tell the difference between your typical hypochondriac who just wants some pills and someone with a real problem? Ugh - just makes me angry!

I always worry about my American friends and their health care situations - I'm glad you have insurance...but still, to not be able to find a dr. that will take you seriously is really tough.

I haven't had too many problems with drs - just one when I was in university - I got strep throat all the time, so I knew the symptoms and how it felt. I was allergic to penicillin when I was young and told the nurse and dr. He handed over my prescription and what was it for? Pencillin! I questioned him on it (my Mom is a nurse and taught me a bit about stuff like that) and he was pretty annoyed that some kid was questioning him. He then admitted his mistake and gave me a new prescription...

I've had good luck lately with my blood clot situation and my family doctor is a total gem. Good thing she is fairly young - she isn't allowed to retire!

I really hope you can get some answers - don't give up and be assertive where needed. Do you have any old medical records/reports from other doctors to take in with you? I also find having a list of problems/medications and dates (ie - how long have you been feeling this or that) can be helpful... Keep us posted, so we don't worry too much!

Mrs Mom said...

NM, I agree with KS. The last time I allowed a Dr to push us around like that was in 3004, and both my unborn son and I nearly died from it. It wasn't until I put my foot down and pitched an unholy still talked of fit of EPIC (and I do mean EPIC) proportions that anything changed and the stupid nit listened to me.

My sister is a Dr now. She said the same thing- Be Strong. There are too many jerks out there in the medical field, who believe that 90% of the people they see are either seeking drugs/ more drugs, or attention. I hope you can find a female Dr who will freaking LISTEN to you. Or one that you can put your foot down with strongly and MAKE her listen!

Sydney said...

Wow what a quack! I would have run right out of there screaming and kicking. I can't stand moron doctors that are in a rush and think everyone is a head case. My doctor is now a walk in clinic doctor but since I was his patient before all I have to do is walk in and I get first on the list because I am his patient. Never more than a 15 minute wait.

Grey Horse Matters said...

This new doctor doesn't seem like he's all that interested in your symptoms. I've got to say that you really need to get in his face a little more and demand to be listened to and treated and if he can't do it to recommend someone who will take you seriously.

My poor daughter has been dealing with chronic Lyme's for about 3 years now. No one would treat her because her tests come back negative(which doesn't mean anything)she also had the bullseye rash on her stomach and was told it needed to be the size of a dinner plate to be treated. WTF! She has developed fibromyalgia from the Lyme's along with a long list of other symptoms. Almost every doctor she's seen has told her she's depressed and looking for attention. Which I can assure you is not the case, she despises going to doctor's or being sick in any way. So I say keep looking for a doctor who will listen, I know it's hard with work but some doctor's may have night hours, your symptoms can't be ignored.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I wish you could go see my doctor. I love her. She's young, but very sensible and sweet and she LISTENS. She doesn't believe in a lot of medication if there are alternatives but I am in agreement with that. My daughter goes to her and loves her too. And the office staff are very nice too. I just went for a physical last week and, where I usually have a copay, for a physical, it was a free visit.

allhorsestuff said...

Nuzz, this sounds totally terrible! I would have left the office with the denial that I was sitting in it from the start. I have zero tollerance for that, aside from the fact if they represent explains him a bit more too.
I am very sorry that these problems persists for you. At the risk of spounding like it is easy...I would try again for another doctor. There are plenty and one of them will be a real person to you.

With our health care changes lately..who knows WHAT is gonna be in the future. I feel v=bad for the Dr in the middle...I wish the INsurances could have been addressed with the price fixing ..the Doctors have been in a bind trying to fit in for sometime.

I had a hernia was nagging me like you described.It was good to have that taken care of. Maybe you can go in for just that next thing at a are men,(even though Dr.s) you know..they process that way.
(((HUGSS)))from me, hope there is to be some better news soon~

Anonymous said...

*snort* Mrs Mom is a time traveller!

Seriously, I wish I could share my fab doc with you. She diagnosed properly a problem that had been misdiagnosed and mistreated for 34 years. Yup, 34 years of being improperly medicated and told I was a hypochondriac and feeling like crap. And my hubby is a saint, if anyone cares! He went through most of that time with me.

Ahyhow, if it was me I'd be searching further for a better doc. This one is useless. JMHO!

Katharine Swan said...

NM, don't be sorry for me! I'm healthy and my sugars are under good control. I rarely find diabetes to be an imposition or a barrier to doing (or eating) what I want. I have to check my blood sugar periodically and take my insulin -- that's all.

In fact, the only way I have found diabetes to interfere with my quality of life is in how difficult it makes it to get health insurance. Yet another reason why we need Obama's health care reform! People like me need a public option to turn to when they are down on their luck. It's not right that diabetics should be allowed to essentially starve to death because they can't get health insurance and can't afford to pay $800 a month for insulin on their own.

Jenn said...

And doctors wonder why we wait until the symptoms become absolutely unbearable before we go to them.

I've been having some worrisome chest pains for the past three years that are now radiating to my back and neck. I've been to the ER for them and to my doctor about them more times than I care to count. I've had tests done and they can't seem to find anything wrong, but I KNOW there's something wrong!

My doctor now just brushes me off every time I mention the constant chest/back/neck pain and says I need to be less stressed and get more sleep.

The problem is getting worse, but I haven't been back to see the doctor again because I know he won't take me seriously. I need to find a new doctor, but I'm afraid the new one won't take me seriously either, so why bother?

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Jenn - That's about how discouraged I feel. There's only one other general practitioner in my area who takes my insurance. Who knows if he'll work out? I also told this doctor of my heart fluttering, and he immediately dismissed it as anxiety. Diarrhea... anxiety. Dizziness... anxiety. Pelvic pain... anxiety. Can't control bladder... anxiety. Sores in mouth... anxiety. Blood clots... anxiety. Non-stop bleeding... anxiety. Gee. I didn't know that anxiety could make you hemorrhage. Do they ever stop to think that perhaps we might be anxious over losing control of our own bodies and not knowing what is going on?

Katharine Swan said...

While it's true that anxiety can cause a great many unexplained physical problems, it's not a reason to dismiss the problem. Jenn and NM, might as well try to the new doctor. The worst thing that can happen is that s/he will be dismissive too, and that's no worse than what you're dealing with now. But you have a lot to gain if the new doctor ISN'T dismissive. I think it's worth a try.