Unfiltered Story #177742

, , | Unfiltered | November 20, 2019

(My mom is a rheumatologist with her own practice, and I usually help out at the front desk whenever I have school holidays. Since my family is Chinese-American, many of my mother’s patients are elderly senior-home residents who only speak some form of Chinese and come to their appointments alone, without an English-speaking friend or relative. I cannot imagine how the regular front desk staff communicates with these patients without understanding Chinese based on my experiences with them with one female patient in particular. So far, she has dumped a pile of plastic cards onto the counter and understands that I speak Mandarin rather poorly.)
Me: Ma’am, which one of these cards is your primary insurance card?
Elderly Patient: I don’t know, but my daughter probably does. *pulls out an old cellphone and a piece of paper with many telephone numbers scribbled onto it.* Can you please call my daughter for me?
(By this time, the waiting room is getting kind of crowded. Even though it is our business to check with the insurance company what a patient’s primary insurance is, it is the patient’s responsibility to contact their own relatives and transportation. However, since the elderly patient is starting to panic, I dial her daughter’s number into the cellphone and hand it over to her so I can register others while she is calling. She is still speaking loudly by the time everyone is seated and is clearly disturbing the other patients.)
Other Patient: *obviously fed up* Can you please tell her to take her call outside or something?
Me: I’m sorry, ma’am. Yes, of course. *to the elderly patient* Ma’am, may you please take your call outside? Ma’am?
(The elderly patient shushes me and continues her loud conversation, which is not even about her insurance anymore, in the office for another five minutes. Finally, somehow, we sort her insurance situation out.)
Me: Next time you have a call, can you please take it outside? We don’t want to disturb the other patients.
Elderly Patient: Oh, okay. I didn’t know that was a rule in your office.
(I’m not surprised that she doesn’t realize it’s more of a common courtesy thing in America, but I’m tired and I really don’t feel like correcting her. The rest of her appointment goes smoothly on my part until the end, when my mother comes out of the examination room with a very annoyed expression and tells me to make the patient’s next appointment.)
Elderly Patient: *shoves the same cellphone and the same telephone-numbered paper into my hands* Young lady, since the doctor won’t do it, can you call my driver for me now?

Diagnosed With Not Quite Surgical Precision

, , , , | Healthy | November 17, 2019

(In college, I start getting severe fatigue; I am sleeping ten hours a night, getting an hour or two nap each day, and still feeling exhausted all the time. I go to the student health center where they do some blood tests and diagnose me with hypothyroidism, where my thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormone. I am given a prescription for the generic of a synthetic thyroid hormone, and things improve drastically for several months. But after I have my prescription filled at a different pharmacy, I start having different symptoms: anxiety, feeling jittery all the time, being unreasonably cold, etc. I go back to the health center where they run more blood tests. This is what happens at the followup appointment when those blood test results come back.)

Doctor: “So, your thyroid hormone levels are much too high. You have hyperthyroidism.” *goes into treatment options, which basically boil down to either radiation to kill off part of my thyroid or surgery to remove part of it*

Me: “Okay. Well, before we start talking about surgery, don’t you think we should try reducing my [medication] dosage?”

Doctor: *stares at me for a second, then reads my chart more carefully* “Ah. Yes, yes, we should probably try that first.”

(A DIFFERENT doctor in the health center was able to explain that I’m in a small group of people that are sufficiently sensitive to thyroid hormone that the different levels in different generic brands can act like a completely different dosage, meaning that I need to be on the name brand to ensure my dosage stays constant. We put me on the name brand and I didn’t have any more problems, and I never saw the other doctor again.)

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Conversational Heart Failure

, , , , | Healthy | November 15, 2019

(I have myriad medical issues which give me some bother. I have an appointment with my primary care doctor. This office knows about all of my conditions. I get to the building and ride the elevator to the fourth floor. I get into the office and go to the check-in desk. There are two office workers there. One I know; the other I don’t. The worker who I don’t know goes to check me in and sees I’m breathing quite heavily.)

Worker: “Walk the steps today?”

Me: “No. I have congestive heart failure.” 

(The worker couldn’t get her foot out of her mouth, it was wedged in so deeply. The other worker, the one I knew, just burst out laughing so hard that she spit out part of her sandwich. I did let the first worker off the hook and said I didn’t care what she said. I was not offended at all. It was just too funny.)

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Her Colon Still Has Eight Good Years

, , , , | Related | November 12, 2019

(I’m at the doctor’s office with my aunt for a physical examination. There’s a poster with a picture of platform heels on it that says, “If you remember wearing these, you probably need a colonoscopy.”)

Me: “Hey, [Aunt], do you remember wearing platform heels?”

Aunt: “Um, [My Name], those are for fifty-year-old people like your dad and [Other Aunt]. I have eight years to go.”

Me: “Are you sure you’ve never worn platform heels before?”

Aunt: “That’s irrelevant. It’s still for fifty-year-olds, and I have eight years to go.”

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You Can’t Cough This Up To Cultural Differences

, , , , | Healthy | November 7, 2019

I came into work today to hear my coworker, the office supervisor, in a high-volume discussion with a patient in another language. I don’t speak any other languages besides English, but I could tell the patient was agitated and my coworker was trying to neutralize it.

I let her handle that and helped other patients before my shift officially started. Later, she revealed the reason. Apparently, the patient was having an ultrasound with our chief sonographer. The patient was coughing on the sonographer, so they asked the patient to cover their mouth. The patient got offended by that and left the room in the middle of the scan. The patient commented things such as, “She shouldn’t be in the industry if she can’t take sick patients.”

My coworker tells me that in their culture coughing is open. They aren’t told to cover their mouths.

All three– the patient, sonographer, and coworker — are the same nationality.

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