Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Nibbled to death by ducks

While the storm on the East Coast is causing the city of Atlanta to shut down entirely, here in the Midwest, we're supposed to be used to this, and we're expected to shut up and get on with our lives. While I would like a snow day or two, it usually doesn't bother me to drive into work through a ton of softly falling snow.

However, today was different. First of all, the roads weren't even close to clear. Second, the driver in front of me had his hazards on despite the fact that everyone was driving slowly. Thirdly and possibly most important, I've been off my anti-depressant since Friday. My neuro's office pretty much decided that I don't get refills on either my Lexapro or my Neurontin until I come see the doc and get another MRI.

Yesterday I logged on to the Cleveland Clinic's website and requested appointments for my MRI with sedation and a follow-up with my doc, both to be scheduled on the same day. When I got home, there was a mumbled message on my answering machine saying that I had the MRI on February 8th and the doctor's appointment on February 24th. Of course it was too late to call and reschedule when I got the message, so I listened to it three times and wrote down all the numbers.

After my icky drive in, I took care of the urgent things that needed to be done at the office, then called the number left on my answering machine. I got the main switchboard and some jerk named Michael who got snippy with me for not having enough digits in the extension I'd requested and then for not having even part of the Mellen Center scheduling's extension correct. He put me on hold before I could snap back that I was repeating the number I was given and I was very sorry people had called off work but he didn't need to take it out on me. When he transferred me, the phone line got goofed up and everything had a loud echo to it, including the Clinic ads, hold music, and the person answering my call at scheduling.

The woman who took my call at the scheduling desk was also less than thrilled to help me. At first she tried to tell me that doctors don't allow same day MRIs and follow-ups because the patients aren't coherent. When I told her I'd done it that way for the past six years and if I wasn't coherent, my mom would be coherent for me, since I had to have a driver anyway, she asked why I couldn't do the appointments on two separate days. I tried to explain that A. I have a 45 minute drive one-way from my house to the Clinic and B. Now that they are charging $40 extra every time you set foot on their property, I can't afford more than one visit per year. [Name redacted because it's distinctive] said that it was not her fault about the charges, and anyway, the one-day appointments would be too far apart because MRIs were at 9 or 10 in the morning and then the doctor's appointments were all in the afternoon. I told her that was fine, that's what I always did, which was in my appointment record, which caused her to snap at me that she couldn't read charts.

I asked her to please schedule me for one of those days with a morning MRI and afternoon follow-up, and suddenly the appointments in February and March disappeared and the first thing I could get was April 8th. FINE.

My next call was to the doctor's office, and of course I didn't have his number and had to go by the listing on the Clinic's website, which was for the Neurology Department rather than the Mellen Center. Thankfully, that time I had a real person who cheerfully transferred me.

At the doc's office, I was on hold for a long time, but again I figured they'd had call-offs. When one of the admins answered the phone, I told her that I was out of Lexapro and Neurontin and couldn't get an appointment until April, so could someone please call me about refills? She checked my chart and said, "You requested a refill via e-mail on Monday and we sent it to your pharmacy yesterday." I asked why I hadn't gotten a notification for said refill and she said they don't do notifications any longer (apparently, they expect their patients with memory problems to call the pharmacy until they actually get a refill). At this point, I was upset and frustrated, but managing to hold on to my temper and hold off tears.

My next phone call was to the pharmacy, where I was informed that instead of one month refills on the Lexapro and three month refills on the Neurontin, the doctor's office had gotten it backwards. Oh, yay, time to call the doc again. This time, the tears were a lot closer to the surface, but a different admin swore that they'd call the pharmacy and correct the error.

Right now, I'm afraid to call the pharmacy and check, but I have to admit it will be nice to lie in bed and not have pins and needles in my arms and legs keep me from sleeping, and maybe to be on an even enough keel that I'm not fantasizing about threatening to firebomb a major medical center.


Anonymous said...

You deserve a medal for making it through today. I hope tomorrow is a much, much better day.


the queen said...

I have wondered all week why people yho work in medicine are so damn unprofessional. On a good day, I think it's because they are sensitive "people people" and the emotions that make them good with people are the ones that make them bitchy. Then, on a bad day I assume they're all just ... pills.

Jammies said...

GG, thank you. That means a lot coming from someone who's also going through hell.

Your Majesty, it's not everyone--I think it tends to be the folks who are more in the admin support side who are pills. The people actually IN my various doctors offices are pretty much awesome.

Jay said...