I have to admit that accessing the healthcare system, looking for a diagnosis, often reminds me of the log ride at the fair.
Why the log ride and not a roller coaster, you ask? Or the teacups? All of them go round-and-round, up-and-down, and once you’re strapped in you’re stuck for the duration.
Maybe it’s because the log ride seems especially cumbersome. Also undignified, once you get yourself wet.
I am new in town and don’t have a doctor, have never even been good at knowing how to judge/choose a doctor (not that any are taking new patients) so today I walked-in to the walk-in clinic.
After waiting 1.5 hrs* I saw the doctor on duty.
(I wish they would introduce themselves. Clinic doctors never seem to. Shell shocked from the sordidness of walk-in complaints, probably. They clutch their name to themselves like a teddy bear.)
I’ll digress just for a sec. You know what’s the worst book to read before you go to the doctor? “Summer House With Swimming Pool.” I just finished it the other day. Man, the doctor in that book has so much contempt for humans. He talks about being a ‘gatekeeper’ to keep people out of the system, to send them on their way coddled and placated and diverted, in the interest of keeping the healthcare wheels and gears turning nicely, with minimal sick people cluttering up the works. Fantastic book, Herman Koch is a delicious devil indeed, but it’s just too much cynicism before going to confess your own ailment to somebody.
Anyhow, it took 15 seconds but Dr decided I might have a pinched nerve. I didn’t know that was actually a real thing. I asked him a few other questions, trying to steer the possibilities to the neurological or otherwise, you know, just because I was sitting right there, so…let’s talk options! I don’t want this process to be a slow boat to nowhere, a cumbersome carnival ride (to belabour my original metaphor), until the problem either vanishes or gets worse.
Maybe I just get impatient because I am never sick and I have no gauge for what’s a “normal” pain and what’s potentially stage IV cancer rippling through my bloodstream. Also I am haunted by half-remembered phrases like “didn’t catch it in time,” “…suggest you get your affairs in order,” and “when they finally cut her open, it was all through her.” It’s science. People born into dysfunctional families who don’t experience a whole lot of nice things for their first twenty years or so? For us it’s natural to go from zero to worst-case-scenario mode in no time flat.
Anyhow, he prodded my shoulder and arm and although I SBAR’d myself and my S&S pretty concisely he still got timelines mixed up and seemed to doze through a lot of what I relayed. His hx seemed mostly to revolve around whether I had kids (“no”) or wanted them (“maybe.” “Well, don’t think about it too long…you’re already 35!” No shit.)
I left with a pass to the X-Ray department at the hospital to check out that pinched nerve.
*”What brings you here?” the receptionist asked through a little hole in Plexi-glass. For her to hear me I’d have to yell, for her edification and that of everyone sitting behind me in the waiting room.
“Sore arm,” I said, keeping it brief, leaving out numb, tingling, shooting pain, getting worse…
“Sore ARM!” I called. God! I should have shouted “Perforated anus!” just to bring a little zazz into the day.
Really they should have little slips of paper that you write on, and slide over to them like a bank robbery note. I know they have to triage and what not, but what about patient confidentiality?