The chaos that surrounds a life with chronic illness never ceases to amaze me. Everything is always changing: day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. It’s a constant game of rearranging. Not only your plans but everything you believe in (or don’t believe in ) as well. You don’t ever dare to get comfortable because as soon as you accept one thing, even just a simple thing, something else is waiting just around the corner to shake things up once again. There really isn’t time for boredom like one might think when you’re living the sick life.
“And it’s a sad picture, the final blow hits you
Somebody else gets what you wanted again and
You know it’s all the same, another time and place
Repeating history and you’re getting sick of it…”
I don’t know why I am continually shocked by the lack of competence at my current primary care office. You’d think I’d only be surprised when things are running smoothly considering all the problems I’ve experienced with this clinic. It’s been a gradual decline in patient care over the last year or so, although my last few visits did were a lot smoother than the ones prior. I had even decided to stop my search for a new primary care doctor because I really had hope that they were changing for the better and that everything was starting to slowly improve. But as soon as I start to believe in my doctor again, my recent visit to the office only confirms that they really are a lost caused. I swear, the clinic’s only ability is in ineptitude.
I was scheduled for bright and early last Monday morning. I woke up feeling awful and really didn’t feel like going, especially because I was going by myself and I had to drive there on my own since my husband had to work, all the while I could barely move or stand up due to pain. But I knew I couldn’t miss it because it was my quarterly medication refill appointment to evaluate my current medication list. Plus, I had to schedule this appointment two months in advance and I can only imagine how far out it would be if I rescheduled.
Luckily my PCP office is in town, so it’s not as bad as traveling for other appointments. I managed to struggle and get through the drive by myself, despite feeling nervous about it. I even arrived five minutes early, breathing a silent sigh of relief. However, as I get out of my car and start walking towards the building, a man cuts in front of me right as I’m about to get to the door. I am now forced to walk into the building right behind this man, who is not only coughing and gagging with every step he takes but is also not covering his mouth while doing so. “Inconsiderate a**h***. I know toddlers that display more manners than you…” I think to myself, but I didn’t bother to open my mouth. It’s not worth the trouble and it’ was way too early for that, even though I was feeling pretty cranky. Still, I was honestly disgusted by the lack of courtesy this man extended to those around him. I just prayed that I wouldn’t catch whatever germs he was insistent on spreading.
Finally, it’s my turn to check in. The receptionist looks frazzled already and they haven’t even been open a full hour yet. I almost feel bad for her… almost. She takes my co-pay and tells me to have a seat. I do, but far away on the other side of that inconsiderate cougher. I expected a long wait, given the number of patients in the waiting room but hoped they were all being seen at the urgent care side. This office can either be super quick and I’m in-and-out within 10 minutes or I’ll be there for 4 hours, there’s no in-between, so I’m usually prepared but I forgot my book this time at home. However, as I’m waiting, I’m just looking vaguely around the room until I realize that all I can see is actual filth pretty much everywhere. It’s not like I was looking hard or anything, it was just visibly THAT dirty – you couldn’t miss it.
- There were used tissues crumpled up under the seats.
- Spots, of what I could only assume were a variety of substances, left all over the tiles.
- Dust and debris that had collected on both the end tables and magazine racks.
- There were hand prints on most of the windows and the doors.
- And a piece of gum was sticking out from the chair next to me.
It’s obvious this place has not been cleaned or sanitized in a long time. I literally wanted to throw up, only imagining what else was there that I could not see. It sends shivers down my spine, even now.
Then, I watched as the receptionist completely ignored phone call after phone call as she was filing her nails. (Yes, that actually happened.) Her face showed annoyance every single time a new call would ring in. Um, hello? Isn’t that your job? Again, just to reiterate, the clinic had only been open for about an hour at this point. I would have smacked myself in the head at this point, but I worried about touching my hands to my face given the state of my surroundings.
As my OCD started to take over and I began losing all of my cognitive ability to have any rational thoughts at this point (My mind was prompting me to either run widely out of the building or set the place on fire: “I’m sorry officer, it was for the safety of all humanity, I swear…”), the receptionist called me up to the front desk.
She handed me a piece of paper and said, “they don’t need to see you today. Here’s your prescription.” Wait.. what? I am really confused. I need to actually see the doctor today. That’s why I’m here. But as I was gathering my thoughts, she must have noticed that either my head cock itself to one side or that I displayed a baffled expression across my face because she blatantly followed it up with, “your doctor isn’t here anymore, so another doctor is giving you this one-time script.” I’m literally left speechless.
Hold up, wait just a minute.
Did you just say that my doctor is no longer here?
MY primary care doctor is gone?
Like gone, gone? Forever?
Where did she go?
Did she quit? Was she fired?
What’s going to happen to my care?
I have paperwork for my disability claims that need to be completed here soon.
I need a test that my GI doctor wants done to be ordered down here in town – I need a referral.
I also needed to adjust the levels of some of these medications today.
What am I supposed to do now?
I was in literal shock. After all of this, all we’ve been through… she’s just gone? I felt the panic slowly rising inside of me. She then informs me that the manager will call me later on that day and they have no idea what they are going to be doing with all of my doctor’s patients. Before I can say a word, she yells for the next person to come to the front desk. I figured it was better to talk to the manager anyway, what is the receptionist with a bad attitude going to do for me anyways. I take my prescription and head home.
As soon as I was in my car and driving away, I was suddenly struck by feelings of anger and disappointment.
Why didn’t they call me BEFORE the appointment?
They just wasted my time.
Why did I have to wait so long?
Why did she even bother to check me in?
And they took my co-pay, for what?
I didn’t see a doctor.
Why couldn’t they schedule me another appointment with the other doctor until they figure this all out?
What a giant mess this is going to be!
Now I have to figure something else out and start the process all over again with a new doctor.
Perfect timing. Just my luck.
Well, at least I got my prescription for this month.
I decided to drop it off at the pharmacy to get filled on my way home. At least then something would get accomplished that day. When I handed it to the pharmacy tech, who knows me all too well at this point, he looked confused as he’s entered it into the computer. He then stepped away for a minute to chat with the main pharmacist working that day. As he walked back over, he handed me the paper with my prescription on it because they can’t legally take it as written. Are you kidding me? Evidently the name of the doctor who signed it and the DEA number did not match. I asked if they could call the doctor to verify it but because of the type of medication that it was for I had to have a new one written up – correctly. *sigh* I walked back to my car and called over to the clinic, in hopes that they can have it prepared by the time I drive back over there for a new one. After multiple rings, someone finally answered. I explained the situation and she tells me she needs to connect me to someone else. The phone then only rang a single time before going to some random voicemail message. I hang up.
My blood was boiling the entire drive back there, thinking all the things I was going to say to these people. I angrily pulled into the parking lot, slammed my car door, and stomped into the waiting room. However, before I even approached the front desk I heard a woman screaming from the top of her lungs. No sooner did I round the corner that I saw the woman who was yelling and that it was directed toward the receptionist from earlier. There were at least 4 or 5 patients behind the woman, all angrily cursing at the receptionist as well. It was like a mob scene in there and I half expected for a full-out riot to break out, but it never did. I patiently waited as everyone finished venting their frustrations at (not to) the receptionist before they each walked away one-by-one. At least I’m not the only one who got screwed here. Just imagine how many people this situation actually affects. They shouldn’t treat their patients this way! At this time, however, someone else walks up to front desk to give the first receptionist a break (probably well needed, I’m sure). I, again, politely tell her what’s going on and she said she’d be right back.
While waiting, I decide to let the whole thing, including my own built up anger, just go. What can I do about it anyways? When she returned, she handed me a corrected script. I told her to “have a nice day” (although I knew that she probably wouldn’t. Not the way that day started anyway). Once again, I pull away… only this time I knew in my heart it would be my last.
“Because these things will change
Can you feel it now?
These walls that they put up to hold us back will fall down
It’s a revolution, the time will come
For us to finally win
And we’ll sing hallelujah, we’ll sing hallelujah”
The manager never did call about rescheduling my appointment as promised. I did my due diligence by following up with a call to the clinic on Monday and asked reschedule, but I was told that they won’t be taking any of my old doctor’s patient’s at this time. I did ask to see the other doctor, telling her about the paperwork and medication refills I would be needing very soon. She said she would leave a message with the old doctor’s nurses to see what they could do. One of the nurses did call me today, telling me my prescription was ready for pick up. I politely let her know that I had already received that one but was trying to schedule an appointment for next month. She told me they have no doctor to schedule me with, they are all gone, just the director who is filling in for the time being until new doctors are hired. She also said I can call when I need them and they’ll see who is there at that time. I thank her, but only because she was the only one who ever knew what was going on half of the time, and hang up the phone. I should have left this practice months ago anyway. Perhaps this whole situation is truly a blessing in disguise.
Thankfully I had scheduled myself with a completely different clinic shortly after I got home that day. It was for three weeks out, earliest they could get me in, but they sounded a lot more organized (at least over the phone). Although this is probably the worst timing given all that’s currently going on with further testing and new specialty visits, not to mention work and disability, I still feel that this is probably for the best overall. For not only my personal health and safety but both my mental and emotional status as well. It’s a shame that what was once such a great clinic (with an amazing doctor who listened and believed in me) turned into such a dysfunctional mess. I still don’t know if my doctor quit or got fired (or who knows what else) since no one is talking, but I wouldn’t blame her for leaving either way.
Ultimately, life continues to move forward regardless of any setbacks. I now have some diagnoses. Treatment (even if it is mild) has been initiated. My doctor’s finally believe in me now. And there’s finally hope for the future once again.
Lyrics quoted: “Changes” by Tayor Swift