Medical Blah Blah Blah

My struggles with my gut are well documented here. Thoughts of suicide, overcoming my irrational fear of discussing the performance of my body with anyone in case it turns out that the fact that I have diarrhea would make me a social outcast and laughingstock, the endless research and struggle to figure out WHAT is causing it this time. 

Last weekend, I planned to have two lovely people over for margaritas on Saturday. Thursday, I felt unwell. Really, I’ve been feeling a specific sort of unwell for awhile, but it would generally come and go. Belly pain, transient nausea, diarrhea even though I’d entirely given up sulfites. But it would usually get better. By Thursday night, my belly hurt all over, like any minute an alien would burst out and frankly, I’d be so happy to have it out that I’d name it, get it baptized and put it in my will. So, Thursday after dinner, I decided I should *not* take Imodium, hydrate like mad, and fast for a day. 

I found that to be very mature thinking. No rush to fix it, no panicked taking of medication that would make it worse, just be sensible and wait it out. “Meditation is really working for me” I congratulated myself, glancing at the medicine cabinet with scorn. I got up Friday and my gut chose to evacuate all contents. “Okay,” I thought, “we are on our way to feeling better.” I drank lots of water. I also started that day with an email from the producer of a film I am working on (the director is an asshole and it is a whole other post to discuss) saying that they were going to shoot a scene in less than a week so guess who needed to costume an actor pronto? So, with my stomach an agonized, angry pressure drum, I got my ass out there. One estate sale, four thrift stores and three hours later, I didn’t feel any better, but I had found some things to use. 

The pain never let up all day Friday. I didn’t even feel hungry. Saturday rolled around and I was up several times to the bathroom between 1:00 am and 10:00 am. I decided that this was FAR MORE than any normal situation. My entire belly hurt. Under my ribs, around my belly button, up high, down low, red fish, blue fish, here we go. I finally gave in and cancelled our margarita party and went to Urgent Care, which activated my medical PTSD. I was convinced they would blow me off, or determine it was gas, or something equally embarrassing. My blood pressure was 150/100 something and when I explained that I have “white coat syndrome” the nurse said, “Oh, well, we don’t bite” and later the doctor said “Well, I don’t wear a white coat” and I do hope there is a special place in hell for them. NOT. HELPFUL. 

I told them all I knew. I mentioned that gallstones run in my family. I peed in a cup and they did an X-ray. The doctor said that he didn’t think it was gallstones due to location of pain and, “You’d be vomiting.” They declared it a virus and I went home feeling stupid. They gave me something for the nausea I didn’t have and the gut spasms I also didn’t have. Between Sunday and Thursday, the pain settled in to my upper right just under my ribs and hurt all the time (do you see where we are going yet? yes?). I followed up with my doctor on Friday. I told him the story. He looked at me. 

“That sounds to me like gallbladder,” he said. “That’s what I told Urgent Care,” I said. “Wow.” He said, “You’ll be pissed if turns out that’s been the problem all along, huh?” Me: (unable at that moment to process this statement),”Uh. I won’t be mad?” 

So he scheduled an ultrasound and I went home, and did more research. I’ll be goddamned if I don’t have every single fucking symptom. 

Now I am torn between being really pissed at the Urgent Care doc who could’ve solved this mystery last week, being hopeful that maybe we have found the reason I have had this ongoing issue for so long, being negative and assuming it isn’t what I think it is because the world hates me and being upset that if it IS gallstones, it’s not like they’ll just immediately fix it. No. There will be more tests. I’ll go along trying to eat as little as possible and worrying about Suprise! Diarrhea! (C) because my body isn’t processing fat very well while the system slowly bleeds me of cash and then even more slowly sets about solving my problem. Maybe. 

Takeaway? If you are a medical care provider and don’t have anything helpful to say, don’t say anything. I’m not 5, so I know it’s not LITERALLY “White Coat Syndrome”. Also: tell everyone you see every goddamned detail about your diarrhea. Tell them what color, what you ate, when it happens. They will generally NOT ask you, because they came up in a system of shaming patients instead of helping them. But tell them anyway. At least then when they fuck up, you can be smarmy and say, “See, here? In the notes? Here’s where I told you what you needed to know to make the right diagnosis.” There’s nothing better than being self-righteous while you’re in the bathroom. 

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Feminism Tuesday: Bitch Magazine and Invisibility

[Note: I posted this on Facebook, where I am not very “out” about my health conditions, but it bears posting here, too]

The new issue of Bitch Magazine (Feminist Response to Pop Culture) has, as its theme, Invisibility. And on page 9 is an article about a woman being dismissed as female (crazy) when it turns out that she has the exact same alphabet soup that I do, with minor differences. I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tacycardia Syndrome) and MCAS (Mast Cell Activation Sydrome) and there are doctors that don’t even BELIEVE IN SOME OR ALL OF THAT. There’s a local doctor who says “Baloney POTS”. I guess he doesn’t have wild swings in blood pressure and a tendency to get woozy upon standing up and an intolerance to exercise (I’m not lazy, shocking, I have a genetic disorder).

When I was working, I hardly ever talked about my invisible illness. It’s extremely complicated. I let people know that I had easily damaged joints and left it at that, reminding them that our disabilities aren’t anyone’s business but ours.

I did that in part because I got tired of suggestions and talking about it all the time (I have it, I don’t need to talk about it THAT much). Had I tried X supplement? What about Apple Cider Vinegar? Did I know about this device that so-and-so is selling that really helped your friend/sister/cousin/a lady on the bus? Could I change my diet? I know it’s hard when someone you know has something that has no solution, because shit, that could happen to you too, so you better protect yourself by insisting that if they would only drink Kombucha, they’d GET WELL.

I also got tired of explaining the related conditions, alphabet soup(s) that they are, and how actually, really, there’s not much to be done about any of it, and people don’t need or want to know about how much pain I am in today, or which joint is killing me, or that my back is out, or what my digestive system (rouge pirate that it is) is up to today, or if I was up all night with my heart racing, or my anxiety, or whatever the Issue(s) Of The Day Is (are).

Also, though, is what I got all the time from doctors, which was Diagnosis Female. Female=Anxious. Female=Pain. Female. Weird. Dunno, no exciting drugs, can’t help you. I’ve been fired by plenty of docs who just say they can’t help, have I tried counseling? (And yes, I see a therapist because I have a lot to carry around and it helps to have support, but she cannot fix my genes, sorry).

It takes well over 10 years (and for many with EDS) much, much longer to be diagnosed. I was 42, (and on my path to diagnosis a doubting doctor had cheerfully dislocated my wrists to see if it could be done and they never recovered entirely from that, they’ve hurt every day since then). I was already pretty sure, having spent years researching connective tissue disorders and realizing that there was this one that I really, really didn’t want; let it be anything but THAT one, so, that’s the one. But I had to spend WAY more time working out what was wrong with me than any health care professional had done at that point, and all I had to get at that point was expensive confirmation from a nationally recognized expert. It would have been much simpler for everyone and for me to accept my diagnosis as FEMALE and get on with it.

I’m telling you this because invisibility is a theme in my life, and I’m trying to be more visible. I’m trying to occupy my space. I haven’t been entirely well in years–maybe ten at least but probably longer, I just didn’t think the whole slew of random things were one giant related thing. So, if you think something is wrong with you, it is not that you are female. It’s that you are experiencing symptoms of illness, be it a disorder (which genetic things are), a disease (which people catch) or a syndrome (um……can be caused by a disease or genetic condition). This is hard right now, since being female appears to be thought by some to be a pre-existing condition (the only pre-existing condition here is PATRIARCHY, btw), so it’s only going to get harder to make yourself visible. The payoff may even be kind of low–you have all this shit, we can’t do anything about it, have you tried yoga (try not to punch them when they ask that if you are delicate like me, you’ll only hurt yourself)? BUT. I think being visible is better, in many ways, than being invisible. Because I read this article and had to come vomit out all these words, you know? To shout out to the ether at that article, “YES! YES! OMG, EXACTLY! YES, that’s IT! IT’S ACTUALLY NOT BECAUSE OF MY VAGINA!”

We live in a world that doesn’t know that. That’s the scariest part.

Small Rant

THIS. This makes me so angry I can’t ResistBot enough. It’s like the time my father-in-law asked me if I could fix my GENETIC condition with “a different diet.” NO. No, please, education and science are just running through our fingers like water; oily, oily water. Intelligence is flying away. We are drowning in a cesspool of deliberate ignorance fostered by echo chambers and internet trolls.

It’s all well and good if you believe in a magical man in the sky who randomly punishes people for not following an arbitrary set of rules (which conflict with the rules of the other magical men in the sky) but the very notion that an ELECTED OFFICIAL thinks that healthy people have “lived right” makes me want to live, very, very wrong for maybe ten minutes in a room alone with him.

But healthcare? We should deny healthcare to sick people because now illness is a sign of moral laxity? GENETICS are not laxity. GERMS are not laxity. Sure, we all like to give a little side-eye at someone with cancer and keep ourselves feeling safe by saying, “Well, see, smoked AND drank, that’s the reason” or diabetes “Well, self-inflicted because: fat person” but deep down most of us know we’re just being superstitious monkeys who can’t function knowing just how RANDOM it all is. We’re throwing salt over our shoulders and touching each doorknob five times with each finger to keep the existential terror at bay.

I actually used to wonder about the Dark Ages, you know, how exactly did we lose literacy? Didn’t anyone keep it up? But now I know. I’m getting the chance to live through the beginning of a major setback for humanity. -Insert inarticulate screaming.-

The Incompatibility of Christmas and Chronic Health Issues

A few weeks ago I visited my PCP about trying that new IBS-D drug Viberzi. He gave me samples and called in a prescription. But the RX would cost me $100 a month, and the drug warnings included that it is not for people who drink.

I drink.

I also prefer my pancreas to be healthy, so I decided to forgo the new drug. Instead, I thought I hit on a genius solution. One Immodium at night. Initially, it seemed perfect; slowing my system enough that I felt like I had control over my wayward innards and wasn’t spending a fortune or risking other organs to do it.

Ah, but–the bitter pill (seriously, it tastes like shit if you don’t swallow it fast enough) was that it slowed things down too much. I got heartburn like the Devil. If I ate a normal sized meal, it sat and sat and sat until I offered a name placard and formal office space. I stepped down to half of a tablet at night. But, then, it was Christmas Eve. For us, Christmas Eve means posole and tamales and all that. I LOVE posole. This year, however, posole did not love me. In fact, posole caused me to feel like the Hindenberg but without opportunity to explode. Every time the puppy stepped on my gut I thought I might literally burst. I kind of hoped to burst.

Up and down all night, I (surprisingly wisely) forwent the Immodium that night. So things got a little better, but I still spent Christmas Day with nausea and heartburn. I fucking ate posole for lunch anyway, dammit, because I’m not ready for my old age and plain oatmeal for every meal.

That kind of thing is just normal stuff for me. No one but me knows I am suffering at all, and I was pleased that at least I didn’t get a migraine like I did last year on Christmas Day. I had my usual back pain, wrist pain, and thumb pain (puppy-wrangling takes its toll as she gets bigger). I spent a lot of time on the floor fetching presents and redirecting Choux-Choux and playing with my granddaughters who are 6 and 2.

Once everyone left, I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing, but I stepped on a rawhide on the kitchen floor and being the tremendously graceful creature that I am, I fell down, smacking my knees then hands to the tile floor. In front of my husband who was….wait for it…..looking at his phone so he didn’t see it happen. I have some lovely bruising starting on my knees as fond mementos. So, that’s the other side of photos of great clothes, style, hair and makeup. If he had taken a picture, we would have had a great “I Hate Sundays” post but no, he lacks dedication. -eye roll-

 

An Ode to Lyrica

My PCP and I had agreed, some time ago, that once the heart madness settled down, we would pursue finding a drug that would potentially work on generalized anxiety, the gut issues and migraines. The theory was that since the gut and the heart are very dependent on one another, medication that soothed the other issues would also benefit my heart. It was solid reasoning.

We already know that Cymbalta is not our friend (serotonin syndrome, up for two days clenching my teeth and wildly anxious). We know that Effexor is an enemy (19 day period, folks, NINETEEN DAYS). So, we tried Lyrica. After about 2-3 days at 50 mg a night, I was having migraines that were back to easily aborted with Fioricet. So we went up to 75 mg at night, while still carefully weaning off the Xanax–and I haven’t had a migraine since.

The first issue were the dreams. They are nearly hallucinatory in nature, and they go on all night long. I wake up, I am mostly aware that I was dreaming, I go back to sleep and it picks right back up. Sometimes I would think that a conversation that happened in a dream had actually happened, and have to then try to figure out what was real and what wasn’t. As usual, I wanted to be a good patient and not quit too soon. I could handle weird dreams,  told myself, even if they were more than just dreams and disrupted my sleep and emotions and I was starting to fear them.

Last week, I noticed that I was having small, random thoughts of suicide. They didn’t even seem to be my own thoughts, they were just there, briefly intrusive, then gone. I texted this to my PCP but he was on his way out of town and trying to finish my FMLA paperwork and I think he didn’t see it. So I mentioned it to my spouse (who is sometimes not so well equipped to respond to these things emotionally and immediately asked if I was saying I wanted to quit my job–the thing is, when people say they aren’t sure they are thinking rationally, it doesn’t help to ask questions that demand rational answers).

A few more days of monitoring my intrusive thoughts (“you could just take the whole bottle of Xanax”) and I texted my PCP that Lyrica is, along with so many others, not the option for me. Backing down to 50 mg last night the dreams were so hallucinatory and weird that I really feel I didn’t sleep at all. I’ve advised the spouse that in a week, he may need to be in charge of dispensing Xanax if I begin to crash and my brain is not my own for awhile. And, of course, that means the migraines may very well return.

Back, as always, to the damn drawing board. I hate the drawing board.

All the Horror

Where to start? Where the Electrophysiologist in El Paso told us, unequivocally, that the June 10 ablation had failed and the *only* recourse was to go to Austin to see the Number One Guy.

Then there was a lot of bullshit with the Number One Guy’s office, detailed here previously. Go find it, I’m not up to linking.

Then the NOG’s office called Monday. I mentioned the following: Very very anxious, taking Xanax three times a day. Also very worried that I wasn’t feeling the PVCs. “Oh, hon, don’t worry, he’ll be able to induce them.”

I set down the biggest burden I was then carrying.

We go to Austin. Nine hour drive. Check into our hotel (special medical rate of $109 a night, expected 5 night stay). The next morning at the NOG’s office, the EKG shows that I am not having any PVCs.

This was my WORST FEAR. NOG is vague. It goes like this:

NOG’s PA on the phone last week: So, how’re ya doing?
Me: Well, anxiety’s pretty high, actually.
PA: shore, shore, hon, that’s to be expected.
Me: yeah, taking a lotta xanax, and actually, and I’m sure this is anxiety speaking, and I know you are busy, but, I just have this paranoid fear that I’m not having the PVCs as much or at all? I should probably just take more xanax, right?
PA: Oh, don’t you worry, doctor will just induce that rhythm.
Me: (SO RELIEVED) oh, okay, great.
Fast forward to today (a 9 hour drive and $109 a night hotel later):
ONE SECOND before Doc walks in I say to Husband, “Let him not say I am not having PVCs or that it’s up to me what to do”
Doc with not much warmth: So, you aren’t having any PVCs. [a bunch more other horseshit] It’s basically up to you. So, let’s get you pre-registered.

At Admitting:
Nurse: blah blah blah
Chuck: (in the hallway on the phone with my mother agreeing that this seems like a bad idea)
Me: (babbling emotional diarrhea) so don’t know what to do, thinking of just bagging the whole thing, feel like an asshole…
Nurse: are you taking anything for anxiety?
Me: Xanax, 3 times a day.
Nurse: that can suppress PVCs. Let me call anesthesia AND pharmacy to confirm that. Yep, that’s a fact!
Me:
Me:
Me: can you ask my husband to come back in here?
And that’s how we spent a day in Austin walking uphill in 100 degree (plus humidity) heat, drinking coffee with wine, carrying a 1963 Enid Collins purse that caused people to stop and worship, sobbing about being an asshole, and planning to give a hospital over $3000 the next day for a heart that might not perform. Modern medicine.

It is medically very dangerous to abruptly stop Xanax. So I was up all night that night, sleeping about 1.5 hours. By the time we reached the hospital I was manic, clenching my teeth, paranoid, and crying. We were scheduled for a 7:30 go. Things they didn’t tell me: any emergent case coming into the hospital would be put ahead of me.

They didn’t take me back until around 11:30.

Once in the lab, which is a huge room with a HUGE screen, there are a lot of people, and I’m naked (I ultimately get a blanket). they are putting a million goddamned sticky connectors on me; some huge, many small. they are exposing one boob, then the next boob, then my ass, etc, etc. Finally I am strapped down into an immobilizing thing–arms packed in foam and tied down, legs the same, head/neck the same, and an oxygen mask strapped to my face. Then they all walk away, and the board starts showing all these stats.
They give me a drug to slow my heart rate to induce PVCs. It takes forever, I can’t move my head. I don’t know what the board things mean. I keep feeling out of body (Xanax withdrawal, exhaustion, stress). My blood pressure is 157/109, higher than I’ve ever seen it.  I feel like I need to pee and it’s freaking me out. They won’t give me anything to calm me down. (I was obsessed that my crotch smelled bad, and they’d all smell it and talk about me being disgusting). So it takes forever to slow the heart rate, and people wander in and out of the room, and say things like, “Nothing happening yet?” Um, I don’t know. But thanks for making me feel like I’m not performing.
After awhile they say they are going to try speeding my heart up. I react to that drug really fast, and my heart goes up to 165 in about 10 or 15 minutes. It felt like I was going to watch my heart burst from my chest. Finally, the cocksucker expert doctor comes out and says, “We’re not seeing anything, so there’s nothing else to do.” Twenty more minutes are spent unhooking me, naked, in a big room with people still coming in and out. Then off to recovery, but they don’t go tell my husbnd anything. I wait in recovery for about 45 minutes before asking them to get him. He finally arrives, thinking it was a full procedure, so I have to explain to him that no, it was a negative study.
THEN, my (male) nurse, seems to feel that my being angry and frustrated means he needs to stay in there and mansplain PVCs , and  “my own theory” and some tale of his kid cutting his finger camping and I am thinking, “GET OUT. GET OUT. We haven’t even talked about this, GET OUT.” Finally we are released and I cry for the next hour and a half. All the way back to the hotel. Sitting on the couch in the room. The spouse hands me a xanax and a glass of wine and then steers me to bed. I cry until I sleep for about 2 hours. Then he gets Korean food and we watch the (lame) Opening Ceremonies and crawl back into bed before the sun goes down.
Then we drive home, nine long hours, and fifteen minutes after I get home, I have an aura. Then another one. Now, nothing has gone numb and no headache, but…..hard to trust.
What remains:
Maybe my heart was fixed in June and the El Paso doc jumped the fucking gun and cost me a LOT. A LOT.
Maybe the Xanax was still affecting it and now it will come back, sometime, don’t know when.
I have to find a way to safely go off the Xanax.
I really, now, have no medical team.
Everything else seems fucked up.
I have very, very little coping skills left.

 

A Quickie (ooo!)

We are about to pack it up and start the nine hour drive to Austin. Consult tomorrow, surgery Friday. That is the plan. Oh, and lots of Xanax and a tiny bit of thrifting and and eating and drinking Thursday afternoon.

See you kids on the flip side (I’ll update where possible–I’ve just put the WordPress App on my phone—INORITE?)

Hugs and kisses to all of you. Except you, the creepy one. Stop it.

Sneaky Zucchini & Other Updates

Everyday I go out and check my little garden, seeking new growth and hunting tomato bugs, cutting away zucchini leaves so the two little peppers (not the Five Little Peppers, but, you know, I loved that book as a kid….) can get just a tiny taste of sun but somehow I found a giant zucchini hanging down the side like, yes, a dildo  (a dildo for a giant) that had escaped my notice entirely. It’s not a big garden, but those zucchini, they are wily……I find them embarrassing to look at, frankly.

0726161529

———

I went to work today even though I am off contract, to change and finish my syllabi to reflect my late start to the semester, to leave instructions for my work study, to email my classes to explain cancellations/delays, and to otherwise smooth the way as much as possible for my coworkers while I am gone. I will miss the first two weeks of classes. I was given very sage, very correct advice that I am under no obligation to manage my own medical absence, and when I thought I was going to be gone a month or better, I agreed. However, whatever I do now will make my return that much the smoother, and maybe there will be points for being a trooper, maybe not–but I feel better leaving things in order than not. And, if there are complications either at the time or down the road with my health, then I may well simply disappear and they will have to figure out how to get along without me anyway.

———-

In addition to the upcoming Epicardial VT Ablation, I have an antibiotic-resistant ear infection and had four migraines last week. Yesterday was the MRI of my brain. This is how that went:

I had an appointment for an MRI at 3:45. As usual, they required me to be there earlier than that, and I was, arriving at 3:20. Then I waited. And waited. And after my appointment was 45 minutes ago, I requested to know WTH was up? Oh, they don’t know. There is some scurrying about. More time goes by. They ask if I am claustrophobic and I say yes, I am, but since I didn’t plan on freaking moving in there, if the closed one is available I’ll take it. Okay, they’ll see..so, that one has an APPOINTMENT at 4:30, but maybe she can take me afterward. Oh, great, yeah, see, but I had an appointment at 3:45. Yes, but there is someone at 4:30 who has an appointment. Okay. I wait. At around 5:00 the receptionist says that “She will take you now, she is STAYING LATE to do your scan.”

I say, “I am so sorry, but you seem to think you are doing me a favor. If someone has to stay late to do their job, that sounds like what happens when you make an appointment for someone and then can’t keep it. *I* paid *YOU* for this privilege.”

Her: “Well, I know, yes, but she IS staying late.”

Me: “No. *I* am staying late. Very, very late. Do you understand what I am saying to you? I AM STAYING LATE and I am not going to fall all over myself because someone else is going to have to do the job they are being paid to do.”

Her: “Oh. Well. Yes.” pause “You could talk to the manager…well, I mean, he’s already left for the day so I could have him call you or you could call him tomorrow.”

Me: Puts hand up. “Stop. I need to get this scan done, okay? I really can’t talk to you about anything else right now.”

Her: “Oh. Oh. Okay then.”

The Lady whose appointment is after mine: “You said it.”

I am so exhausted by the way I am treated as a patient. As if I’m not paying for the service they are providing. The stress of this sort of thing takes away from the reserves one needs to deal with being unwell in the first place.

 

The Point of Done

I’m done.

I’ve had 7 migraines since the ablation on June 10th, one 3 hours post op.

Yesterday I had one, napped, then had another one. Aura, laser-light show for about 30 minutes, then some part of me goes numb for up to half an hour, then finally comes back to life, then I get the nausea and headache. Twice. Two times.Dos.

Tantrum.

I called my EP’s office and they denied it might be related to the ablation. I made the idiot medical assistant ask him twice, stressing the other doc said it might. He still said no, call your PCP right away.

So I did.

My PCP came by (housecall!) and brought me orders for an MRI of my brain.

This morning I had a fever and noticed a fine rash like little dots of blood below my skin on my legs. I sent my PCP a photo of said rash.

Last night he gave me a log in to the secret, Medical-Professionals-Look-Up-Stuff website so I looked up the rash and fever and it said Endocarditis and that’s bad. It also said you might have a sore throat (went to him for that last week) and a red, hot, runny sore (GROSS)–mentioned a go with something odd like that, too, that became Mt. Vesuvius in my neck suddenly for no reason.

This all means nothing. Or not. I dunno.

But you know what? I refuse to do anything else about it. Fuck it. Fuck. It. I have reached the end of the medical rope by which hysterical women are dismissed and patronized and not heard and not engaged with and I. Am. Done.

My husband said, “Do you want *me* to call…” and I screamed at him no. No, I will not make ANOTHER DECISION. Not for me, not for you, not for what you should do for me, FUCK IT. Figure it out. Wander blindly through the shitty, hurtful forest that doesn’t take you seriously like I have been.

I am no longer directing. The actors aren’t in costume except the ones wearing underwear on their heads, they have broken key bits of the set, the costume designer has changed the color scheme to pink, the set designer infected all sharp edges with rabies, the lighting designer is using sun lamps and the stage manager is a mime. We open soon? It’s important? Fuck. It. Someone else deal with these fools.

If I’m right, they can inscribe it on my tombstone. If I am wrong? I’m sure they’ll put it in my permanent record and tattoo “hysterical” on my forehead. I understand how this game is played, now. I get it.

 

Medical (Conversation) Transcription

Last week: (Calls to ask about upcoming appointment in Austin)
So, this is for the procedure, too?
Phone Answerer (lowest on totem pole): Um, no, it’s just a consult.
Me: I’m coming from a long way away, they said we could do it as a one stop.
PAer: They didn’t tell us that.
Me: I was on the phone with them when they did.
PAer: No, see, that’s a different process, we need your records.
Me: I was told they were sent yesterday.
PAer: They were, but we didn’t know you wanted a one stop, so we sent them downstairs.
Me: But that’s why they sent them yesterday, when they asked for the one stop.
PAer: They dropped the ball.
Me: Can someone pick it the fuck back up, then? (not said aloud)
——
The Scheduler: Hi, how are you? I’m the scheduler, they said you wanted a one stop visit?
Me: I’m fine, how are you?
The Scheduler: Oh, I’m behind, I’ve had allergies and the flu and just anything else you can get in Tex….
Me: OH GEE THAT’S TOO BAD. Yes, I want the one stop.
TS: Okay, we can do that on X date, and I’ll be sending you a packet with hotel information and directions.
Me: Great, can you also answer some other questions I have?
TS: No, you need to talk to the doctor’s assistant for that. I’ll send her email in the packet.
[“packet” shows up two days later, via email, and it’s a scan of a xerox of a xerox of a xerox]
Me: [emails list of questions to medical assistant, with lots of “I know you are busy” and “maybe email is easier” “sorry so many questions”]

Waits.

Waits.

Two days later, calls medical Assistant, reaches voicemail that says Medical Assistant is out until the 18th, gives number for other person to call.

Me: Calls and leaves voicemail for that person.

Waits.

Me: Calls the next morning.

Waits.

Emails The Scheduler: Very sorry, know you are busy, really need questions answered, lots of things to arrange, etc.

Waits.

Calls Fancy Pants Office in El Paso that referred me, finagles promise from receptionist that manager will call Austin.

Waits.

Gets call from Austion
TS: I understand you wanted us to call you, and the manager in El Paso called us?
Me: Yes, thank you, I’m sorry, but I have to have this one piece of information and…

TS: Well, I *was* going to get back to you, but we’re just really busy here.

Me: I’m so sorry, but I do need this information since I’m driving 10 hours each way.
TS: Hold on, I’ll put you on with What’s Her Name.

Sucky hold music.

TS: What’s her name is on the phone with a patient. She’ll call you back.

Waits.

WHN: Hi, what can I do for you?
Me: Well, sorry, know you’re busy, but have this pressing concern and….
WHN: You should see the pile of paper I have on MY desk.
Me: (goes into stupid child mode) oh, yeah, sure, but really need to get an answer to this and I do have a life and such to make arrangements and…
WHN: Well, so you want (something VERY GODDAMNED COMMON)? We don’t process those for at least a week.
Me: Um, okay. Well, can you give me this one tiny bit of information?
WHN: (gives it grudgingly, stresses how busy she is)
WHN: Haven’t you had a consultation with the Doctor?
Me: no, we are coming from New Mexico so are doing a one-stop
WHN: Well, I know some people *think* that would be easier but then you don’t have all the information.
Me: Which is why I commenced this odyssey.
WHN: I am not your doctor’s assistant, so I can’t answer these questions, but when your doctor’s assistant does get in on Monday I’ll have her call you then or on Tuesday. She has a big pile of paper to work through, too.
Me: sure, yes, of course.
*headdesk*