Well, That’s A First (Name)

, , , , , | Healthy | April 26, 2018

(I am in the waiting room at a large, multi-doctor medical practice, so there are many people in the room. A nurse enters and calls:)

Nurse: “Williams.” *a few people look up* “[First Name] Williams?”

(Everyone goes back to what they are doing. The nurse again calls out the name, but no one answers, so she starts to walk away. As she passes, a woman rises, tosses down the magazine she was perusing, sighs audibly, and hisses:)

Woman: “That’s me, but I didn’t give you permission to use my first name; you will address me as, ‘Mrs. Williams’!”

(In response, the nurse turns to address the room, smiles broadly, and calls:)

Nurse: “Mrs. Williams?”

(Two other women in the room stand and look at each other and the nurse quizzically.)

Nurse: “Mrs. [First Name] Williams?”

(Several people, having heard the whole interaction, audibly chuckled as two women sat back down and “Mrs. Williams” turned red, glared at everyone, and followed the nurse to the back.)

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Not A Healthy Conversation

, , , | Healthy | April 24, 2018

(I work for the UK National Health Service. This particular branch receives referrals for patients, and my job is to phone the patients to offer our service and get more info on their health, lifestyle, etc. Because of the nature of the branch, most people I speak to are in their 70s to 90s — and a few older! — but I do get the occasional younger person. I can see from this particular patient’s file that she is in her mid-30s.)

Me: “Good morning. Is this Mrs. [Patient]?”

Patient: *deep, gravelly voice* “Yes.”

(I am shocked because she is in her 30s, but she sounds at least 89.)

Me: “I’m calling from—” *quickly explains service and what we offer*

Patient: *almost before I finish speaking* “Yes, please. Anything to help.”

Me: “Fantastic. I’ll just go through a few some questions about your health, and we’ll see what would be best for you.”

(I begin with the standard questions, and she tells me the medical conditions she suffers from, which include severe COPD and bronchitis — evidenced by her gravelly voice and breathlessness when she talks. She has several other conditions; in short, she’s generally not in good health.)

Me: “Do you smoke?”

Patient: “Yes. About 60 a day.”

Me: *bangs forehead against desk*

(The job required I ask if she wanted help in stopping, but I knew before she even answered that she was going to refuse. I guess she wasn’t as desperate about her referral as she said she was. I left that temp post two weeks later.)

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A Bad Joke, No De-Nile

, , , | Healthy | April 23, 2018

(I schedule appointments at an OB/GYN office. One day, a woman calls in needing to be seen; she has just learned she is about three months pregnant.)

Patient: “I thought I had food poisoning or something from my trip to see the pyramids, but my symptoms lasted so long I thought I should take a pregnancy test. Positive! I’m so excited!”

Me: *hardly able to contain myself that I can use this joke* “Sounds like you did catch something on your trip. You have the Egyptian flu: you’re going to be a mummy!”

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Has No Idea What They Are Talking About

, , , | Healthy | April 22, 2018

(I am seventeen years old, and claim disability benefit. Part of my autism means that I cannot speak over the phone — I literally start shaking and have a panic attack if my phone so much as starts ringing. Usually this is not a problem, as my mum will talk for me if it’s an urgent call, and the words, “Does not speak on phone,” are plastered all over my documents and disability claim form. Unfortunately, though, we’ve had some variation of this conversation too many times.)

Caller: “Hello, this is [Disability Allowance]. What can we do for you today?”

Mum: “Hi, I’m calling on behalf of my daughter.” *explains problem*

Caller: “Okay, [My Name]—”

Mum: “No, I’m her mother.”

Caller: “You’re not [My Name]?”

Mum: “No.”

Caller: “Oh, okay. Who are you? Are you the power of attorney?”

Mum: “No, I’m just her mother. She can speak for herself, just not over the phone.”

Caller: “That’s not allowed. We have to speak to [My Name].”

Mum: “But she can’t—”

Caller: “We’re not allowed to have this discussion with you without her direct consent, even if you are a blood relative. Is she there?”

Mum: “Yes, but—”

Caller: “Please pass us over to [My Name], or I will have to terminate this call. All she needs to do is give consent for you to talk on her behalf.”

Mum: *giving me an apologetic look* “So, let me get this straight… You want my autistic daughter to talk to you over the phone, to tell you she can’t talk over the phone?

Caller: “Yes.”

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No Need To Get Catty About It

, , , | Healthy | April 21, 2018

(I go to a human drugstore to get a new insulin vial for my diabetic cat, since his last one is expired. He’s been diagnosed and treated for four months now, and I have been handling his insulin shots every day, twice a day, ever since. I bring the old box with me, so I’m sure I’ll get the right one. In Brazil, you can have insulin over the counter, no prescriptions needed. Also, every drugstore has a fidelity card that offers discounts, and most of the health cares have partnerships that give you discounts; you just have to show your health care card. A third way to get a discount — a big one — is when you register with the manufacturer; it’s a long form you have to fill, with your doctor’s information, treatment details, etc.)

Me: “Hi, I’d like a small vial for this insulin.” *hands the box* “I also would like to check both fidelity and health care discounts.”

Employee: *cheerful* “You know, you could get the manufacturer’s discount for it.”

Me: “Yeah, I know, but it’s for my diabetic cat, so they couldn’t take us.”

Employee: *makes weird face*

Me: *uncomfortable, trying to be cheerful* “Yeah, unfortunately they didn’t accept felines for that. That’s a ‘humans-only’ kind of benefit.”

Employee: *goes to hand me the vial, backs off, looking at me as if I’m a child* “You know this needs to be kept on the fridge, right?”

Me: “Yeah, I know. I also need a ten-pack of syringes.”

Employee: *still making the weird face* “Syringes for what?”

Me: “Uh, insulin. I need the smaller ones, because he only takes two units at a time.”

Employee: *proceeds to teach me how to use the syringes, very patronizingly, ignoring the fact that I may know how to do it since I just gave her an empty box of insulin* “What gauge size you need?”

Me: “I never had to choose between gauge sizes, but since he’s a cat, I believe the smaller ones.”

Employee: “What size is he?”

Me: “Uh, cat size? About four kilos.”

Employee: *weird face*

Me: “Sooo, I guess I’ll take the small ones.”

Employee: *reluctantly gives me my stuff, still looking at me as if I was committing a crime*

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