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And I Thought I Was A Baby About Splinters

, , | Healthy | May 21, 2022

A patient calls into the doctor’s office where I work.

Patient: “I have an appointment in a couple of hours, but I was wondering… can you write me a doctor’s note for [three days ago]?”

Me: “I see that your appointment is for a small splinter in your hand. Is it infected?”

Patient: “No. But I called off work three days ago for it, and I’m about to lose my job if I don’t get a doctor’s note! So you have to give me one!”

Me: “You called off work three days before your appointment?”

Patient: “My hand was in major pain and I thought it was fractured!”

I was unable to write her the doctor’s note she was requesting, and she screamed at me over it.

It was just a small splinter, not even infected at all. And it’s not like she’d called to make the appointment three days before and couldn’t be seen until today. Apparently, it was MY issue that she called off three days early and was about to lose her job over it.

What Do You Mean, The Whole World Doesn’t Revolve Around Me?

, , , , | Right | May 20, 2022

I’m grabbing something to eat before an appointment. As I’m people-watching, I see an old lady looking lost. She spots me and, through broken English, asks me:

Old Woman: “I need [Doctor’s Surgery], where?”

Me: “Oh, I’m heading there, too. It’s down there, then turn left at [Shop], keep going, and you can’t miss it.”

Old Woman: “You go there?”

Me: “Soon, after this.”

I motion to my lunch.

Old Woman: “You take me?”

I have a burrito barely holding itself together. I move, I lose.

Me: “After this! Or it’s down there and turn left.”

Old Woman: “You take me now.”

Me: “No, I’m not ready. You can wait or go by yourself.”

She grabs my sleeve and tugs at it. She’s a little old lady, and I’m a weighty guy, so that doesn’t work. She gets more frustrated and goes to hit me with her bag, but she thinks better of it. All the time, she’s stopping me from finishing my lunch and making it even less likely that I will help her.

Eventually, she gives up and goes in the direction I told her. She is at the reception desk already when I go in.

Receptionist: “Your appointment is for tomorrow. Tomorrow? Wednesday.”

Old Woman: “No I’m busy. He see me now.”

Receptionist: “No, he’s busy. He doesn’t have time to see you now. You need to come back tomorrow.”

This went on for some time. Luckily, another receptionist called me over and I went straight in. The woman wasn’t there when I got out, so I assume she took the hint. Some people want the world to run by their rules!

A Bad Time To Operate On Speculation

, , , , | Healthy | May 19, 2022

Like some women, I have issues with pelvic exams and require the smallest speculum available. My previous OBGYN was sympathetic to the issue and had noted this on my chart. Unfortunately, she left the practice and I’m randomly assigned a new doctor. She’s started the exam.

Doctor: “All right, speculum’s going in.”

I can immediately tell that it’s not the small one. I scoot back up the table.

Me: “That’s not the small speculum.”

Doctor: “It’s the smallest one I have.”

Me: “Please go get the smallest one in the office.”

Doctor: “This is what I have, and this is what you’re getting. Come back down here. I’m putting it back in and I’m going to open it. I’ll be fast.”

I scoot back down. She resumes the exam and quickly opens the speculum all the way, causing a VERY sharp pain in a sensitive area. I scream and get off the table.

Doctor: “Get back on the table!”

Me: “Not a chance!”

Doctor: “You’re a grown woman!”

Me: “Get the smallest speculum now!

We stare at each other for a couple of minutes. Finally, she huffs and pulls something out of a drawer.

Doctor: *In a snotty tone* “This is a pediatric speculum, dear. Smallest one in the office.”

Me: “You did have it! Why the h*** didn’t you use it when I asked?!

Doctor: “It takes longer.”

Me: “I’m not getting back on that table unless you use it.”

Doctor: “Fine.”

I get back on the exam table and she finishes with no other issues. After she’s done…

Me: “[Previous Doctor] said she put a note on my chart regarding speculum size. Is it not there anymore?”

Doctor: “No, it’s still there.”

Me: “Did you not see it?”

Doctor: “I thought a grown woman could handle a normal exam and speculum like everyone else.”

Me: “So, you disregarded a legit medical note due to your own opinion?”

She has the sense to look ashamed.

Doctor: “Uh… Well, now I know. See you next year!”

Me: “No, you won’t!”

I switched offices the next year. I told my new OBGYN the story, and she was absolutely horrified. She promised me that would not happen at her office, and so far, it hasn’t.

Not App-y About This Reception

, , , | Healthy | May 13, 2022

I have a chronic pain condition called fibromyalgia and have been taking the same high-strength painkillers for three years now. I recently moved across the city and had to register with a new general practitioner’s surgery. They have an option where patients can request medication through the national health care app, which I do on a Wednesday a week before my prescription runs out. This painkiller has serious withdrawal effects that start eight hours after the last dose and get progressively worse in a short amount of time.

On Monday evening of the following week — five days after I requested my prescription — I check the app to see that my prescription has been rejected and a note saying to call the GP. I call on my lunch break the next day, Tuesday, thinking forty-five minutes will be plenty of time to get through to reception and sort it out. More fool me; my lunch break ends and I’m still on hold.

Thankfully, my workplace (a nursery/daycare) is lax on us using our phones while on shift so long as we’re not taking photos of children or ignoring our duties, so I opt to do the washing up after lunch with an earbud in listening to the hold music.

An hour and fifteen minutes into the call, I’ve finished washing up and there’s no cleaning to do inside, so I head to the garden with my earbud still in. It’s tricky to hold a conversation with the children and my coworkers through the repetitive music still in my ear, but I manage. If it were anything else, I’d give up and call back the next day, but I only have a day’s worth of painkillers left and really don’t want to go into withdrawal. After an hour and forty-five minutes of being told I’m “number one in the queue,” I finally get through to the receptionist.

Me: “Hi. I ordered a prescription of [painkiller] through [App] last week but it’s been rejected it and says to call the GP?”

We go through the verification process to bring up my account.

Receptionist: “It looks like we released a prescription for you on Thursday of last week. Is that what you’re calling about?”

Me: “Yes, but the app says it’s been rejected, and I only have a day’s worth of my old script left.”

Receptionist: “Oh, no. It was released on Thursday; it’s waiting for you at [Preferred Pharmacy]!”

Me: “So, I’ve been on hold for nearly two hours for nothing?”

Receptionist: “Two hours?! I’m so sorry you had to wait that long. We’ve been having problems with our system, and it only notified us you were waiting a minute before I took your call!”

Me: “All right, I understand, but I don’t get why the app said it had been rejected when the two other medications I requested at the same time were approved.”

Receptionist: “I’m so sorry. That’s a really long time to wait and I do apologise. Unfortunately, we don’t have any control over the app so I couldn’t tell you why it was marked as rejected. But your prescription is ready to be collected at the pharmacy.”

Me: “All right, thank you for confirming that.”

The receptionist gave me a code to give to the pharmacy in case they didn’t have my script on their system and we hung up. I understand it wasn’t their fault that the app was wrong or that their system has a bug, but I still spent over twelve hours worrying that I wouldn’t have my painkillers before my current packet ran out and spent over an hour only half-focused on my job for nothing.

I tried to report the issue on the app, but our government-run national healthcare service apparently doesn’t have that feature, so there’s nothing I can do. I’m grateful to have tax-funded healthcare which means I pay a little under £10 a month for medications that would cost hundreds, if not thousands, in other countries, but it’s frustrating to have this or similar issues pop up every few months on what should be a simple interaction. Yet another side effect of the budget cuts destroying what was once a well-oiled machine, I guess.

Cooking Up Confusion

, , , , , | Healthy | May 11, 2022

I’m switching my primary care physician due to insurance issues, so I decided for my most recent appointment to have a more thorough physical checkup. My usual doctor was unavailable at the time, but one of his assistants could look me over in his stead. I decided a fresh point of view was not a bad idea, so I went ahead and scheduled the checkup.

It all started off relatively uneventfully, with the doctor’s assistant confirming my medical history, medications, symptoms of depression, etc.

Assistant: “And what about your diet? What’s that like?”

Me: “Since I moved out and am now living with a few roommates, we’re all taking turns doing home cooking.”

Thanks to a wonderful combination of social anxiety and ADHD, I have difficulty making eye contact with someone while talking unless I’m very familiar with them or making a significant effort. I was fairly relaxed, so I was just gazing over at the opposite wall while I mentioned that my roommates and I do cooking for ourselves every night. When I looked back over at the assistant, her expression was serious and concerned. I recognized I had to have said something to have caused that change, given she was quite cheerful and chatty only a minute before.

Assistant: “You do this every night?”

Me: “Between my roommates and I, we take turns. And if I get up early enough, I do it for myself in the morning.”

Her expression of concern just grew more intense.

Assistant: “Are you aware of the health risks of what you’re doing?”

I spent a few moments trying to figure out what she could mean.

Me: “I don’t know if there are any risks associated with cooking meals, other than maybe excessive use of salt or oils.”

At that, she burst out laughing! I was even more confused.

Me: “What did you think I said?”

Turns out, she thought I’d said I was doing cocaine every night and sometimes in the morning. It wasn’t until I’d said the word “meals” that she’d figured out I was talking about something completely different! Both the assistant and I couldn’t stop laughing for several minutes straight after that, and the rest of the checkup was perfectly fine.