Doc, Doc. Who’s There?

Doc, Doc. Who’s There? Fifteen. Fifteen who? Fifteen minutes is all the time I have for you.

In the past few months I have tried a new primary care doc, a podiatrist, an orthepedic surgeon, two rectal surgeons (don’t ask), a dermatologist, an opthamologist and a dentist. Of that list only the dentist I had seen before. In virtually all the cases these docs came highly recommended. All I can say is that you never know what you will get but it is more likely than not that you will be disappointed.

My primary complaints apply to virtually all on the list. They put you though standard procedures to tell if there is anything extremely obvious. Hell the primary care doc did the same things that docs have done for decades. He listened to my chest, looked in my ears and nose and had me say Ahhhh as he looked down my throat. He then ordered the standard blood panel and that was my annual physical. He listened more to my breathing than to anything I had to say about my health or symptoms.

In these days of diagnostic tests all I got fingers up my butt from the rectal guys (as opposed to a scope which might actually allow the doc to see what the problem was) The first guy wanted to do surgery and did not even tell me of the potential problems that the second guy did. After wrenching my lower back, the orthopod had me bend in each of 4 directions, took x-rays and gave me three sets of pills– steroids, muscle relaxers and a  narcotic for the pain. He had no idea what was wrong with me. Of course if I took all the pills I would be a vegetable, albeit a comfortable one.

Of all of the docs only one treated me like a modestly intelligent consumer of medical advice. The podiatrist explained what he was doing and why. He explained what he found and what it meant. And finally what we would try for now and the next course of action if the first one did or did not work. He had no great bedside manner but he did spend more than 15 minutes with me and I came away feeling like he would help.

I assume it is the fee for service approach discussed during the Congressional health care debate that drives the behavior of “let me see if you are within two standard deviations of the mean.” If so I Dr. Doctor do not need to figure out if your problem is caused by something outside the norm. I can just send you on your way telling you that as long as you can cope with the pain not to worry.

How come I did not even get all those cover your ass tests I read about in the health care debate?  Where is my share of the excess. At least I would feel as if someone is paying attention.

BTW. If anyone has a good Doc, Doc joke please submit it. I have to admit I could not come up with a good one.

The Bad, The Ugly And The Good

 

Three stories from the front section of today’s Chicago Tribune.

The Bad

Rampage leaves India reeling

Siege of Mumbai ends, and the reckoning begins

The Ugly

Mother dead, dad accused of murder-for-hire: ‘Over the years love and hate can get mixed up’

The Good

For world’s sick, ‘help is just an e-mail away’

 

Too many bad and ugly stories overall. Not enough good.

E.R.

Don’t ever be sick or old and don’t let anyone you care about get sick or old. Definitely do not do anything that requires health care beyond band-aids on a holiday weekend.

I just spend 6 hours in the ER with my mom.

Short background.  Though only 76, her liver has not been working as it should. This has led to multiple symptoms. She looks like a picture of a starving African child. Distended belly, frail, sticks for arms and legs. She can barely walk with the help of a walker, her legs do not want to move. She needs help getting out of bed or out of a chair. It has been like this for months now. Best as we understand from multiple docs is that this is the rest of her life and she can only be treated to make her more comfortable.

Why the ER today. One leg has been getting numb and her ability to walk has decreased further. Her doc is on vacation. There is no where else to go on a holiday weekend. She needs more than the doc-in-a -box clinics that have sprung up can provide. Plus, while she is weak of body, she is still strong of will. I wanted to take her last night but she refused over and over. I was not ready to carry her over my shoulder. Unfortunately, she was in pain through much of the night and that convinced her to finally call at 6 am to have me come get her. My step dad has taken over full time care duties but moving her and dealing with the docs and the hospital is no one person affair.

I was at her house by 6:30 but it was almost an hour before we were able to get out of the house. Anyone who has dealt with and aged infirm parent can identify.

Checked in and in a bed at the ER by 8:15. Then the waiting begins. It was not busy there when we arrived so I had hoped things would progress quickly. I was delusional. Eventually a nurse comes in and asks the same questions the nurse at admitting asked. Sometime within an hour and a half a doctor comes in. Though this hospital and my mom’s doc are all part of the same group, he has no info on her. Therefore, he starts by ordering basic blood work and an X-ray. The blood is eventually taken and the sign in the room promises results in one hour. The sign writer is as delusional as I am.

So you sit. And sit. and sit. You get the picture. Over the course of the next 6 hours promises about next steps are made by nurses but nothing happens. At the 5.5 hour mark the doc walks in, gives us two minutes in which he tells us she will be admitted over night, answers his cell and walks out. At least four times in this version of No Exit we are told they will try to reach her regular doctor who I know is out of town because I spoke with his partner last night who had no more knowledge of my mom’s file than the ER doc or you do.

They admit her, my sister comes for the second shift and I get to go home for the day physically and emotionally drained.