I’ve been debating whether I should even mention my recent experience with the medical profession. Before I do, though, check out this sunset. It will make what you read so much easier to digest.
I woke up this morning with the answer to my dilemma swimming around in that grey soup I call my brain. Hell yes, I’m going to tell you about my recent physical, and dental checkup/cleaning. It seems last year was just the tip of the iceberg. If you don’t remember, let me remind you about that the exorbitant fee the insurance company was charged for the basic blood test I donated a few vials of precious fluid for. They were charged over $900, but paid out less than $100. I was questioning why such a difference in dollar amounts, and why a blood test would cost so much. There’s nothing wrong with me that will show up in a blood test. A mental exam, maybe, but not a blood test.
Here’s what occurred last month. I have new insurance this year and was assigned a new primary doctor. For the first time ever I accepted what the insurance company suggested. I think that may have been my first mistake.
I called for an appointment for my annual physical. When I showed up at the office the waiting room was full of sick people. I should have left when a gentleman began voicing his displeasure about his appointment. It seems he had been called the day before to remind him of his office visit. He showed up on time, and then after waiting for 45 minutes was told that the shot he was to receive had not arrived at the office as planned. He was going to have to come back another day. The man then pointed out a prominently displayed sign that told everyone who can read that they would be charged $25 for a missed appointment. He wanted $25 because he had made arrangements to make it to his appointment, after being reminded the day before that he was due in the office for this very important meeting with the doctor, and now said doctor was backing out.
It got a little bit ugly before the office manager assured the irate gentleman that she would personally drive to the pharmacy and pick up his medicine, if he’d just give her an hour. He left with the promise that in 60 minutes he would be back. I did not want to be there if he showed back up and the promised medicine was not there for him. Through all of this I continued to fill out the medical history that every doctor’s office I’ve been to requires.
When the time came for me to meet my new doctor I was introduced to a medical assistant who took all my vitals and asked about my past physical ailments. I should have left when the young lady asked me how tall I am and how much I weigh. I guess the office cannot afford a scale. I should mention the manner in which she took my blood pressure, but that’s minor compared to the rest of the exam, even though it threw the numbers off a bit.
When the doctor entered the small room I was sitting in I introduced myself. He did not reciprocate, nor did he mention the young lady who was following in his footsteps. I did notice, though, that he had in his hands the copies of the results of my last four blood tests, of which I was kind enough to supply, and the papers I filled out in the waiting room. At the time I thought that was a positive. How wrong I was.
The doctor proceeded to sit himself in front of a computer, and began clicking that poor mouse he had clutched in his right hand like he was afflicted with Parkinson’s Disease and just couldn’t help himself. He asked me what was wrong. When I said, “Other than my sinuses, not much. I’m here for a physical exam.” He eyed me suspiciously and went back to abusing that poor mouse.
I explained to him that due to my seasonal allergies the right side of my head was plugged up, and I could not breathe out of my right nostril. As he clicked away he said that he was going to order an x-ray. A couple of clicks later he said, “Oh, you have insurance. I think a CT scan would be much better.” Click. Click. Click. He did not bother to examine any part of my face, ears, or lungs. I could have had a marble stuck up my nose for all he knew.
Through all of his computer abuse I carried on a conversation with the young lady standing behind him. We still had not been introduced, but I could read her name tag. She was a Pharmacist Intern. We were discussing migraine headaches and the drugs prescribed for them. The doctor must have overheard us, because he said that he could prescribe some medicine that would cure those headaches I have been afflicted with for more years than he has been in his profession. I probably should have been more gentle in my response to what I thought of his assertion that he could cure migraine headaches. I should have heard him out. Maybe he can change the weather. Maybe he can change the way my body reacts to certain foods. Maybe he can….
At that point our relationship deteriorated rapidly. It really fell apart when he asked where I received my previous blood work. I pointed out the prominent letters displayed across the tops of the papers he held in his hands. These large black objects were grouped in such a way that they actually formed words. Maybe he can’t read. I should have been more understanding.
That was when he asked, “Anything else.” I said that I wanted a referral to a dermatologist. The doctor asked my why I would want such a thing. Now, he had, I assumed, read through my medical history. He’d done enough clicking around on his handy-dandy computer where I thought my past was being displayed, and he held in his hands those papers I had filled out while sitting in his waiting room with all the sick people, and pissed off big man.
When I told him that it had been about three years since I had been examined by a doctor specializing in skin disease, and that I have had skin cancer, his comment was, after reading something on that computer screen of his, that I have nothing to worry about since I have not had melanoma. That’s all fine and dandy, but since I have had a couple of surgeries it would be nice to know that I am still cancer free, and it was beginning to appear that this medical professional sitting in front of the computer in the room was more concerned with abusing the mouse he held in his right hand than the patient (me) siting on on the table ten feet from him. I insisted on the referral.
He said, “Very well. My office will call you with your appointments. I’ll see you again in six weeks.” He turned his back to me and went about manhandling the mouse again. At that moment it was very clear that my appointment was over.
During the 10 minutes I spent with this doctor he did not once touch me. He did not take his stethoscope from around his neck. He did not listen to my heart or lungs, nor did he examine any part of my head or body. He did, though, glance in my direction a couple of times while giving his right finger a good workout by clicking away with that mouse he clutched so tightly. Maybe I intimidated the man. It was very evident that I am in much better physical condition that he is, and I am a bit larger than he ever will be. Maybe my bedside manner is not the best.
For all of this that doctor charged my insurance company $607. They paid him $153. Why the big difference?
I’m still waiting to hear from his office (it’s been four weeks) about those appointments I am going to have that I will politely refuse. I do not need a CT scan since my breathing has returned to normal after beginning my annual regime of over the counter drugs for my allergies. I will wait until I’m back in AZ in a few months to see my regular dermatologist so he can carve on me some more. And, I will deal with the migraines like I have for the past 40+ years. No, this doctor that I saw last month (he sure didn’t see much of me) that thinks so highly of his skills will not see my sorry ass back in his office again. He’s received all the money he is going to receive from not examining any part of me.
I started this short article with the intention of also telling you about the dental appointment I had last week, but I’ve run out of time. That story only adds to the assertion that I believe that the medical profession in this country is sorely lacking, and that the insurance racket is just that, a racket. Life expectancy in the United States has dropped again. We are way out of the top 25. As a matter of fact there are several third world countries where the citizens can expect to live a lot longer than we do here in this country. But, keep in mind we have “the best medical care in the world.”
Do we? Wait until you read about my three hour visit with the dentist that resulted in not a damned thing being done. Meanwhile, enjoy the photo above. I took it a couple of weeks ago, but neglected to share it at that time. Sorry about that.