Thursday, April 05, 2012


Have I admitted doctor's offices and -- interestingly, to a lesser extent -- hospitals give me the willies? Well, they do, and I even know why, a particularly vicious, opinionated and very young M.D. who was one of the "other" docs in my old G.P.'s office who saw me after the G.P. himself had the misfortune to die.

The details don't matter; suffice to say that she found the then-thirty-year-old me, single, childless, a total non-contributor to the human race, only beginning to come to terms with near-constant migraines and starting to complain of some of the aches and pains of age (I was having spinal trouble at the time, touch of the ol' cervical radiculopathy) and trying to sort out the dental/sinus issue that got a lot worse before it got any better) to be whiny, annoying and in need of being told at length and with malice how useless I was and how little I deserved to be treated at all. I burst into tears; she wrote in her notes that I had been "abusive and hostile" (because crying and asking why is so evil?) and guess what, that's a part of your permanent record. HIPAA, HIPAA, hoo-- hooey. There's no expunging it, even when the head boss doc admits they've had a lot of complaints and (by the time, months later, I had worked my way through the system to end up hearing from him) the doc in question has flaked out and left the profession.

I haven't had a decent blood pressure reading in a doctor's office since. I struggle to get my pulse slowed down. I've changed doctors four times and for things like sinus trouble or minor injuries, usually prefer to just go to Doc-In-A-Box, get it done and GTHO.

I haven't seen my nominal "family doctor" since 2008. And I'm good with that. They can poke at me and judge me when I'm dead, injured or gravely ill and the rest of the time, I don't care to deal with the profession in person. Nobody is getting the chance to get me alone in a room, screwing with my head and lying about it ever again, if I can avoid it. (One of the best things about Doc-In-A-Box: it's small; the exam rooms open off a short corridor that leads directly to the exit. Ten steps from freedom the whole time.)

So, I'm needin' to go see a specialist in [none of your business] for a semi-routine sort of test and doctor-time being what it is, they won't even talk to you without a referral. And since I kind of haven't seen my own doc in approximately forever, getting a referral is none too easy, either.

Which is to say if I am a little short or don't post as wittily as you would like for the next few, don't take it personally. I have to deal with these people and they -- largely innocent and kindly -- scare me silly.


Dave H said...

HIPAA lets you name a health care proxy, a person who is allowed to know your health status so they can make decisions on your behalf if you're not able. That also usually means they can come to doctor visits with you. I had to do that for my Roberta a lot of times; she was scared of doctors and dentists.

Divemedic said...

It saddens me to see a patient treated that way. Some people have no business being in the medical profession.

BGMiller said...

Fear not, we shall wait here patiently and wishing you well. And should you feel wronged by any of your barber-surgeons I'm sure a few of us could find the means to convince them to be a bit more civil.


rickn8or said...

BGM said it 'way more eloquently than me could.

Anonymous said...

The IU doc's office at the 62nd end of Glendale is where we go. I'm fairly distrustful of doctors, but was pleasantly surprised there.

frostedlexicharm said...

Take a doc buddy. That way if things go south, your buddy is your backup who can provide a 2nd account of Doctors Behaving Badly. I always have a 2nd pair of ears for doc appts. It's sometimes been The Spouse, sometimes a Good Friend, sometimes my mom or one of my sisters.

Also good to have along in case you get Big Bad Diagnosis and the ol' brain goes into "buhbuhbuh" mode.

Guffaw in AZ said...

Hang in there! I was a sickly child, had every kid disease except polio from the 50's. Lot's of needles.
Ignored going to docs until I started having health issues - an accident, diabetes, lymphoma, melanoma. Beginning @ age 42. I'll be 60 this year. Still kicking. There ARE great medical pros out there - you just need to look for them! gfa

Keads said...

Oh, I feel you. I never go to my "Primary care giver" unless something is totally wrong. As I approach, uh, a half century on the planet my visits become more frequent. I must do so only because both my Mother's and Father's medical history leave something to be desired.

The only thing I can say for me opposed to you is my Doctor has a full Wookie suit and a shooter to boot.

I hope things go well for you and let me know if there is anything I can do for you.

Skip said...

Like Frosted said.
If the quack is doubtful, take another set of ears.

Anonymous said...

"doctor's offices... (and) hospitals give me the willies"

Oh, me too, and I work in them!

"the then-thirty-year-old me"

So it happened last week?

Part of the problem with Gps, with a few rare exceptions, is that those with the vocational and intellectual drive (you could read 'care and actually know what they're doing' but I'm too polite to say that) tend to stay in areas which interest them ie. hospitals as specialists.

Just wondering, whilst the situation of getting records expunged is similar here, you can get a document (stating your opinion as well as any statements and facts about other complaints, statements by other practitioners and facts about subsequent 'disciplinary' activity) added to the record (just as in credit ratings). They can have no moral or legal justification for refusing. Could you try that?

I know I'm not in a position to judge (being as I have known some of my GPs as 'snot-nosed' house officers and they know I have both more qualifications and experience than they do) but even I may, in certain circumstances, demand a friend be present or covertly record conversations with those in officialdom. Amazing how the way you are treated is subtly changed - a power shift? (My blood-pressure and PR tend to spike midway between explaining what is wrong with me, including spelling so they can look it up, and explaining what I want, medication and referral wise, from them. My dealings with GPs are guaranteed make me feel better, I walk out of the surgery and always feel 'no matter what is wrong at least I'm not dealing with some moronic first degree in medicine holder')

Here's hoping, once you've jumped through the hoops to get the referral, your dealings with a 'proper doctor' go well!

As to "short" and "(not as) wittily", be as terse as you like, we'll still enjoy the insights and I'm not altogether sure you know how no to be witty - just sayin'.

Roberta X said...

Able, I did have additional information added to the record, but -- to my dismay -- found it did little to offset the powerful aversive conditioning. The whole thing was totally unexpected; the doc who'd passed away and I related very well and essentially as equals (he was a bit of a wookie-suiter in his attitudes toward authority), so it caught me off guard.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

I'd gibve my right arm to find a doctor that didn't speak to me as if I was a 10 year old child. ESPECIALLY the doctors that are younger than me.

"You really should stop smoking. Smoking is bad..." in that tone.

Really?! BAD for me? I hadn't heard that... And the only reason you know I smoke is you see a cigarette patch on my arm right now. So there is a slight chance I am on board with that whole 'quitting' thing.

And it's not just that health topic. "Eat your fruits and vegetables, little boy!"

Doc I have 10 years and 6 inches on you. And I am big enough to shove that sphygmomanometer into your ear before your receptionist can dial the first one in 911. You like it when I call you doctor? I like it when you pretend I am a grownup.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I have the same problem in any dealings with social workers.

I at least get to socialise with the odd doctor (emphasis on odd, a friend is an ex SBS trooper turned rheumatologist (?) and the love of my life [even if she pretends not to notice, or even recognise me at times] is a Consultant geriatrics specialist [Hey, she's good with old people, why she ignores this old person I forever will wonder about]) so I can put my bad experiences with doctors at least into the 'this particular XXXX is a knob' as opposed to 'from my experience all XXXX are knobs' category. So I can approach them with exasperation as opposed to dread, unlike other professionals I have mentioned.

So all you need is a wookie-suited, gun-toting, ham radio and antennae erecting physician (preferably who likes bacon). There's got to be one near there somewhere - have you tried the personals? (ducking and covering as I type) ;-p

DJ said...

Roberta, if you don't mind, I am curious about the cervical radiculopathy that you mentioned and whether or not is has been resolved.

After 39 years of recurring episodes, I finally reached the "enough is enough" level last May. I had an MRI which looks remarkably like the one in the link you supplied (a blind man could see the problem it shows), found a VERY good neurosurgeon, and had an "anterior two-level cervical discectomy and fusion with plate" last June. Words can't describe the relief it provided. The horrible, grinding pain that it caused is gone completely and it hasn't recurred, even for a moment.

Having reached the point in life (or age) where the only things that don't hurt don't work, and having had nine surgeries in the last nine years, I suggest that doctor aversion is a problem worth solving. I hope you find a way.

Ygolonac said...

Nine surgeries in as many years sounds like *training* for doctor-aversion. :V

My own experience was not "abusive doc" but more "inconsistent doc" - sometimes he listens to what I say and acts upon it, sometimes... uhm, not.

(good experience)

"Hi - right now I have serious hacking congestion and shortness-of-breath, and I'm I'm bringing up highly colourful phlegm, do you need a sample?"

(quick lung-function test/failure) "Here's scrips for antibiotics and non-OTC cough syrup, go get 'em filled."

(bad experience)

"The Vicodin isn't doing jack-all reliably, is there something else I can try for this horrific knife-in-the-spine pain?"

"Well, I can't keep prescribing narcotics (had only prescribed Vic) if they're not working. Good luck, remember to stop off and make your co-pay on the way out."

(Although once I sampled Tramadol and found that it worked, he did immediately write me up for it.)

(I'm apparently a mutant - 1-in-4 chance with Vicodin of *any* effect, and that was mostly "yeah, I'm a little slowed, wish I hurt less". And Tylenol is 100% ineffective my whole life.)

(Back pain was a combo - multiple long-term bulging discs, and a job requiring a good deal of lifting/twisting/standing on concrete.)

Right now, in my current job, it's neither "absusive" nor "inconsistent", but "Dammit, it's a *routing envelope*. How hard is it to cross off the old name, then add the new address?" (It's not all the "medical professionals" here, but it sure feels like it sometimes...)

kishnevi said...

I think you hit a bad apple back then. I have had enough dealings with doctors, thanks to my own medical problems and to carting around my mother to doctors for the last decade or more, to be on a first name basis with some of them. I've hit a few who were asses, but none like the one you had. And the ones who were asses I simply dropped and went looking for another one.

And I seriously doubt anyone would pay attention to what that bad doctor wrote in the past. It's the current situation that's important to them. (Or put it this way--any MD who really paid attention to that, and not compare it to their own observations of your behavior, is an MD who you don't to be going to anyway, both because he/she is an ass and he/she is probably an inferior MD.
It's the insurance companies who give me problems from time to time.

Anonymous said...

If you haven't found your doc yet, try HealthNet. Best care in the Indy area, with the least amount of pointless or hostile bullcrap you can get in the health care system. And you don't need a referral.

Carmel IN

Ross said...

Knowing a few things might give you a better chance of finding a doc. you get along with. For the last twenty years or so there hasn't been training pathway that leads one to become a GP in the US. These days you will find physicians with specialty training in Family Medacine, Internal Medicine [Internists], OB/GYN (obviously for women) working as primary care providers along with some Physician Assistants [PA's] (like Divemedic) and Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioners [NP's].

Internists spend the bulk of their residency training caring for really sick patients in the hospital environment and with the exception of a few programs don't spend much time learning outpatient medicine. Their residecy training was probably a fairly high stress environment and just getting $h!t done may have taken a higher priority than being nice to their patients. They typically are capable people but many have aspirations to take additional sub-specialty training may not be happy with a career in primary care.

Family Medicine Physicians are trained in acute inpatient care but their training will have emphasized a broad range of preventative care and health maintenance, chronic disease management, mental health counseling, women's health, obstetrics, and end of life care that isn't necessarily part of an Internist's training. Additionally the specialty has tried to make the training a bit less arduous for the physician so they have the opportunity to develop good interpersonal skills and communicate effectively with their patients. I know that there is a strong East/West cultural divide in the US and that the stereotype is that capable med. students in some of the East coast med. schools are discouraged from training in Family Medicine (ie weaker students are shunted into Family Med.).

IMHO You would do well to find yourself a younger physician who has graduated from a Medical School or Family Medicine Residency on the West Coast in the last Decade.

John B said...

I once thought to be a doctor. My GP is a Southern Gentleman, mildly reminiscent of DeForest Kelley's Dr. McCoy. I was going to get a shake and bake Medical Degree from the Army. I chickened out at the last minute. Hearing your story, and countless others, I regret it. I'd make a better doctor hands down than half those currently practicing!

Whenever you hurt, tell us, despite my failure to seize that chance for a MD, like the rest of your readership, I do care!