Thursday, August 23, 2007

Angry Letters to Medical Administrators

I couldn't decide if I should post this, but ultimately decided that it was OK to let friends know that I get scared. This is about a visit to the doctor for a biopsy. The test came out clean. All is well. Warning to boys: Icky girl stuff to follow.

Dear Clinic Administrator,

I received your letter asking me to fill out the survey about my visit. However, the online survey wouldn’t accept my answer to the question about what could have improved my visit. Here it is:

I shouldn’t have had to wait for two weeks to get an appointment for a BIOPSY! That is a scary test to have to contemplate for 16 days. I realize this is routine stuff for medical staff, but it made me very anxious. In fact, it eventually caused an anxiety attack, complete with chest pains.

When my primary doctor called to tell me that I had an abnormal PAP smear, why did she make sure I knew the name of the test I needed so I could tell the person making the appointment? Why couldn’t she just order the test—as she would have for lab tests—so there was no possibility of me ending up with the wrong procedure? I saw a specialist in the same clinic!

The nurse that checked me in, weighed me, and so on should not have suggested that the test I was there to get was not the one that would normally be given to people who have an abnormal PAP smear. See anxiety about correct test above.

Though the person scheduling my test did not mention it, it occurred to me that it might matter that I would have my period on the test day. I called the nurse line and asked about it. She said it was fine and might actually be preferable. That was incorrect. When I came in for the test, the doctor said it was not optimal to have my period and there was a possibility that the rather painful test would have to be performed again, if the first one didn’t yield the necessary sample.

Why did I have to ask the question about my period? Why did the scheduler not know to ask? And further, why wasn’t I offered additional information about the test, what it entails, and what the results of my PAP smear meant?

The doctor seemed surprised and taken aback that I was upset. But I had been waiting so long! And maybe now I’d have to wait longer if the test didn’t come out right! Also, does no one you know get scared at the thought of a BIOPSY?

I had to wait another week to get the results of the test – why does it take so long? I spent almost an entire month worrying about this.

And while I have your attention: When I came in for my PAP smear, I was kept waiting in a gown for at least 30 minutes in an exam room that must have been colder than 60 degrees. Freezing!

Frankly, my terror at possibly having a serious disease was compounded by the idea of having to regularly interact with medical professionals who couldn’t care less about my state of mind or how it might be affecting my health. Glad to have dodged that bullet!




Betsy said...

I'm so sorry that you went through that, Mary, but I'm so glad that you wrote that letter. That's actually much nicer than they deserve. (You stayed just nice enough so that they'll probably actually reflect on your concerns for a moment before getting defensive.) I'm glad that you're OK. I miss you, and I hate to think of you scared and potentially sick. I can't wait to see you at Katie's wedding.

Much love,

Lollie said...

Okay I take back everything I just complained about in my last two posts.

I've been through my share of female trouble and let me confirm what you have experienced...people in the crotch industry just plain forget in the day-to-day humdrum of their jobs that there are human, vulnerable, sensitive, quivering, scared messes attached to that vagina that has just become the latest in the coochie-conveyor belt that is their day.

ps - glad you are fine!

Hybrid Fat-n-Sassy said...

I'm so glad that you're OK, and also glad that you wrote that awesone letter.

Whiskeymarie said...

This reminds me: must write letter to dermatologist's office for being asses.
Thank you

And, glad you're fine, sorry it was so traumatic to get there.

Sassmaster said...

Thanks for the support, y'all. And Lollie: coochie conveyor belt = awesome!

Lollie said...

You bet Pal - this stuff flows from me - especially when I have had three Vanilla Vodka's avec Coke chaser. Actually, I was sober when I came up with the CCB, but I'm sure it would have appeared in the state that I am in currently as well...


Elbee said...

Give 'em hell, Mary. Good letter.

We feel your pain--or rather, felt it when we were part of a certain health care "system" in the Cities. I always wanted to ask who, exactly, they were "Partners" with because it didn't seem to be me during the tense end days of my pregnancy with Lily.

Methinks that health care has become like the airlines. Hell might be a big planeload of HMO administrators on a nonstop Northwest flight to nowhere.

Night Editor said...

The pits, absolutely the pits. So sorry you had to endure that. I know EXACTLY what you describe--the anxiety, panic, chest pains. Thank God your test came back negative and you can go on with your life. Lollie's response is priceless, too, and we ought to print both your letter and her response and keep it in our purses (like those tip calculator cards people carry) and lay down a copy next time our lilies and ourselves are treated poorly. I say lilies because while camping I heard a funny/tragic story about a nursing home with a hell-raising cantankerous crone who every morning would yell out into the lobby, "WHO'S GOING TO WASH MY LILY?" Cracks me up every time I say it. Now she's got the right damn spirit! Take care and nice to see you at the fair!

Sassmaster said...

NE: I think I'm going to keep your comment in your purse so I remember to yell it when I'm in a nursing home. Priceless! A friend, when she was going to pee, used to say "I've gotta go shake the dew off my lily." So good.

elbee: I can't even imagine dealing with Lily's first days AND medical jackassery. God! They should all be in jail.

Anonymous said...

I thank your youngest sibling for telling me to check on your blog now and again when I get a chance. So Glad I did. I share your biopsy episode and throw in Bells Palsy/MS round. You understand well the look I got when I told the doctors that I was not going to wait 6 months and see wether the lump on the gonad would grow or to see if the spot on my brain that kept showin up in the MRI was actually early signs of MS. thank god for clean bill of health on both accounts. But waiting is a killer.
Some may say that you should just have a more positive outlook and not focus on the bad. To which I say " Just thinking happy thoughts does not make this or any other problem in the world disappear" but if I can get some good answers about my health status. It's the not knowin...Yuck.

Funny gonad story... I am in the specialists office preparing for the biopsy surgery later that day. And I comment to the doc, with whom I have already established that he is a farmboy, "Ya know if things don't look right today I understand that you may need to take 'the boys' I just want to know what type of tools you are gonna use cus' I don't see and emasculator like we would use on bulls anywhere." I thought he would split a gut. In all seriousness it was his ability to laugh with me in a not so funny moment in my life was very reassuring and I know if for any reason I need some help in his area of speciality I will return.

I am glad to hear that all was clear.

ps- If ya get a chance check out this website

Rebecca said...

and I hope you sent it! sorry you had to have a long, long month of anxious waiting - all so uneccessary. :(

Sassmaster said...

Bickett! So good to hear from you and know you're doing well. Six months! What the hell?! Clearly, I need to do some farm kid screening the next time I schedule a Dr.'s appointment. And thanks for the link to Rita's site -- she looks so much like your Mom. Thanks for the great stories about her.

Rebecca, I did send it. I hope it's not like that episode of Seinfeld where they tagged Elaine as someone with a bad attitude. Actually, I don't care. I've got a bad attitude -- suck it!

Boomer said...

I am so glad you're in the clear.

I have a nurse friend who works in a walkin clinic. She is allowed a maximum of 3 minutes/patient. They time her.