So, as I blatantly whined about in the previous post, for the past two weeks I haven’t been feeling my best, but because I wasn’t feeling my worst, I trudged on like the soldier I am *self-effacing sigh*. However, the other night I noticed my voice begin to take on the squeaks and cracks of a pubescent boy, and soon my voice was giving out all together. Piled on top of the constantly growing list of symptoms of general malaise (read: two cold sores in two weeks—somebody shoot me and put me out of my disfigured misery), I finally decided to bite the bullet and visit the doctor.
Problem #1: Inadequate Coverage
Upon looking for a doctor that accepted my insurance, I stumbled across an interesting discovery: I have no coverage in Alabama. Hm, how about that. My father found me this insurance, and I am registered for it as a Georgia resident. The problem would be, however, that I live in Ala-freaking-bama. I experience a moment of outrage for the check I’ve been sending my father every month to pay these insurance guys, frustration that my father went for the cheapest rate and didn’t even bother to check the most important consideration– that a doctor will accept me in Alabama— then I console myself with the fact I haven’t really been sending my check in that regularly anyway (conclude: at all). Hmm…good, I feel better. Next stop: My only other option. The “Doc in the box”. Or, “Minute Clinic”, if you’re more familiar with that expression. Basically, the medical building on the side of the road that will literally accept anyone. Take your pick.
Problem #2: Inadequate Medical Care
Upon my arrival at a reliable looking doc in the box, I stumble ineptly enough through the insurance forms (Group number? Insured phone number? Huh?) that the receptionist volunteers to take over. Shamed and lethargic, I flop into a chair and half amuse myself with a truly horrible script of a soap opera (“She convinced me she was mentally stable. She had us all snowed!”).
A HOUR LATER
…I am finally admitted through the big scary doctor door, temped (normal), weighed (craaaap), and escorted to the little papered doctor bed thing.
A HOUR AND A HALF, THREE MAGAZINES, AND ONE CAT NAP LATER
The nurse comes in and asks me to fill out yet another medical form about my family’s medical history. Heart disease: yes. Heart attacks: yes. Mental Illness: yes. Cancer: no. I fill it out and say nothing about the wait because I’m a pushover.
HALF AN HOUR LATER
A slightly slumped, bespectacled man in a white doctor coat enters and asks me for my symptoms. I list them off as I count on my fingers: earaches, cold sores, fatigue, coughing, congestion, wheezing in the morning like the sexy asthmatic I am, and a sore throat and man voice. To sum it all up.
We stare at each other.
“Those symptoms have nothing to do with one another.”
We stare at each other.
“Well…that’s what they’ve been.” And yes they do, you idiot.
“All of your symptoms are subjective except your cold sore. That’s objective. The reasons for cold sores are pages long, but it proves your body is under some form of physical stress. You can’t be a hypochondriac and have a cold sore. You can be crazy, but that won’t give you a cold sore.” I give a dead stare and ignore his insinuations. That’s the last time I check the “family has history of mental illness” box on my medical records.
FIVE MILLOSECONDS LATER
“Well, your ears are the picture of health, and I hear nothing in your lungs. We’re going to take a blood test and chest x-ray to make sure we didn’t miss anything,” he says as he exits the room. That’s it? No more questions? Wait. Blood test? BLOOD TEST? Like NEEDLES? I check for the nearest exit and make a catlike pounce but a nurse has already pinned me down and is shoving sharp, foreign objects into my pitiful, helpless, screaming veins. Once the first nurse finishes draining the life force out of my body, a second nurse comes into the room to dress me in a robe. Trauma over, I finally catch up—X-rays? You just told me I was fine! You basically told me I was a hypochondriac! In my head there’s a cacophony ringing: “Cha-CHING!” Your insurance won’t cover this!” and the beloved voice of my father, “Josie, what the hell is this medical bill? X-RAYS?!”
“I don’t want the x-ray.” I blurt out. The nurse lowers her head, raises her eyebrows, and exits. The doctor re-enters and sits with his computer and starts entering data. He sighs like he’s leveling with me.
“Your symptoms don’t make any sense. I suggested the x-ray because it’s used to catch conditions such as lymphoma, adenocarcinoma…”
Wh-wh-what. WHAT. Hold the phone, people, who said anything about cancer? I stare blankly as he goes on. Could we please explore the option of a sinus infection or allergies before we test for POTENTIALLY FATAL DISEASES?
“Of course, the likelihood of any of those is very rare, but if you still feel this way a month from now and get the x-ray then, catching it now or a month from now won’t make much of a difference.”
Walking pneumonia. Bronchitis.
“Because lung cancer is inoperable anyway.” He shrugs and goes back to typing on his computer.
Mono. The common cold.
The man is a loon. An insensitive, inept loon.
“I had them do your blood test again because one of your numbers was so low I think it’s a blip on the computer…but it looks like it came back the same.”
“Is..is that serious? Should I have the x-ray after all?”
“Nope, I’m not concerned about it, it was just the way you were made. I’m not going to pursue it anymore. I’m going to give you some prednisone, that should help whatever it is bothering you.”
Okay, A) whatever you just dismissed about something in my blood apparently being unbelieveably low, THAT BOTHERS ME, but I’m going to let it go because I wouldn’t trust anything you had to tell me anyway B) Prednisone is a steroid I am all too familiar with and me no likey.
“Okay, so my mom has been on prednisone a few times and she’s a bit sensitive to it.” Read: The dame had serious rage for a few months. Intense, scary rage.
The “doctor” points at me and nods.
“Good point. I’ll give you the pills instead of the shot so that if you feel like you’re getting a little crazy, you can stop taking them.”
Well alrighty then, THANKS.
Problem #3: No Resolution
Four hours after I entered, I walked out of the “minute clinic” with a prescription for horse pills I had no intention of ever taking and no diagnosis so much as suggested (except inoperable lung cancer). That night I ran a low-grade fever and had half the urge to run to the clinic and rub it in Dr. Loon’s face. SEE? I’m not crazy, I am sick and I DON’T THINK IT’S CANCER. Instead, I went to WebMD. I entered my symptoms and unanimously was deemed the sufferer of bronchitis. Cancers of any kind were way, way, way down on the list. Now that’s a pill I can swallow.