Thursday, November 25, 2010

How did you get back here?

It's a food holiday!  We had a nice low key meal, I blanked the dessert but otherwise it was lovely.  Things I'm thankful for include my husband and my sister and satellite phones that let me talk to my Mom in Sierra Leone for a few minutes.

I'm also thankful I can still put one foot in front of the other.

But I wish it didn't hurt so damn bad.  I'm still waiting... and hope is fading... that this Synvisc shot is going to kick in.  On my miserable scale I'm currently a bitch.  I hate being like this and when I hear some of the things that come out of my mouth?  Yikes! I cringe just thinking about it.  Pain makes me a not so great version of myself.  I know this and yet I feel powerless to do anything about it.  I already feel like I am pushing my limits of functioning as a non-crazy person.  Fixing me is going to require another radical shift in the way I think about myself... again.  But for now I guess I just acknowledge, be aware and try to keep it in check.  Not always easy for me.

I stopped by my Orthopedist office yesterday.  I need him to sign off on another form for my handicap placcard but I did it in person because I had an ulterior motive-- I really wanted to meet his secretary.  Unlike in past offices, patients (as far as I can tell) don't have any face to face interaction with the doctor's assistant (secretary, admin, whatever you want to call her).  Contact only via the phone makes it hard to get a sense of who you are dealing with without knowing what exactly is on the other end of the line.  Since her office is not in the clinic area we had never crossed paths in person.  I like to think I'm pretty likable but she and I were having some definite issues (that started earlier this year) and it was my hope that meeting in person, putting a face to the name and voice will help my cause down the road.

Although she started it (she did!) I know I was pretty awful on the phone a couple weeks back.  I haven't gone into the details but after the October fuck up and then having my appointment cancelled with no notice, I'm sure one could imagine I was not in the best frame of mind. Hysterics could be a good word here... but basically I bitched her out. She being who she is had no trouble dishing it right back.  I know now why our conversation about the cancelled appointment devolved as quick as it did.

I can small talk anyone, years at the coffee shop working mornings and being the over compensating fat girl for so long gave me the gift of gab.   Weather is my favorite but I can talk anything, religion and politics included but in this case it was vintage and antique jewelry that provided teh common denominator.  She noticed my pin, it's Weiss and I thought eureka! An opening...

But I should back up...  She greeted me (of course) with a "How did you get back here?"  Umm, I followed the signs that say Suite 11x until I came to the door, where I knocked and the nice girl behind the desk directed me to your office?  Being greeted this way kind of threw me but I recovered quick, I'm well aware by now that her default is abrasive.  I introduced myself and immediately apologized for my bad behavior. That was a genuine apology, pain can make me mean and my tirade was uncalled for.

So the pin, I always find wearing jewelry is a good way to 1.) get compliments which leads to 2.) having something to talk about.  She showed me her pin, Irish tourist jewelry with marcasites and some sort local marble that I didn't quite get the name of.   I learned that she used to be a metal smith she likes to travel and loves beads.  We talked about the warehouses in Providence where you can buy bulk vintage rhinestones, fittings and the like and about parking in the city when she owned a Pinto!

We also chatted about my knee.  It was important to me for her to understand who I am and what I've been through.  I freely acknowledged that these past experiences make me the pain in the ass patient I am now.  It's been a while since I've gone into my history and I think she was mildly impressed.  I name dropped my former surgeons, she had similar impression of ACL Doc #3 which was nice to hear.  She also reaffirmed that current Doc is a really good guy and encouraged me to check in with him if I don't get relief with this shot.  That was also nice to hear.  Hopefully she'll remember me the next time I need something not as that crazy girl on the phone but as that woman with that great not rock crystal necklace who's been through more than someone my age should.  My care is important to me and I really want it to be as hassle free as possible.

That being said my visit illustrated to me why I had to drop off this form again. On original application it's just a box that needs to be checked, but no doubt the Doc didn't and I'm sure she didn't look it over before she sent it out.  There were piles everywhere!  Filing, maybe research? and who knows what...  I would drown under that much paper. Stepping into her office and seeing all that it was immediately clear to me why it's oh so difficult to get shit done quickly and correctly.  But now I know and it won't change how I interact with his office.  Well, I'll be the kinder gentler version of myself after making that personal connection but I was reassured that I need to continue asking questions and following up.  The system, alas, is ridiculously dysfunctional... Think poorly trained weekend staff resulting in a need for blood work before a rescheduled MRI or poorly trained staff who don't know they don't do shots in Foxboro.  Secretary is unfortunately the gatekeeper to all this dysfunction.  If she does her job well I don't get that far, if she doesn't I end up wasting my time and even worse the doctors, her boss.

We had a guest lecturer in my US Healthcare system class last week a local woman who is the CEO of Portsmouth hospital.  She really pressed the kids in the class that you have to love your job and have a passion for helping people if you go into healthcare.  I'm pretty sure this woman is not exactly passionate about her job and to me that's evident in how she performs it.  She also said something during the conversation that made it sound like where she's at now is literally just a job to her, fine, good to know. That doesn't make her a bad person (I'd actually love to pick her brain about beads and jewelry and all that good stuff) it just means that the patient expereince is not important to her. There may be people out there who can over look that when it comes to their care and the quality of it,  but I can't.  I'm thankful that I have developed a sense of self that pushes me to be proactive.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Lori said...

Isn't it funny how sometimes you just get off on the wrong foot with someone?

It was a good thing you got to talk to her, and hopefully it will help in the future.

Anonymous said...

Individual people are 99% of the time caring and kind (well, maybe that's a bit optimistic), but when they're in serious pain, or when overwhelmed, or feeling threatened (increasingly the case with much of our social system, including health *care*) then people's ability to behave with empathy dissolves.

Glad to hear you made an effort to look beyond the individual to the conditions supporting the individual's behavior. What a great learning experience. Thanks for sharing.