The Frankenstein Chronicles – An Adventure in Referrals

My latest visit to my hand specialist (Dr. Frankenstein) on Tuesday was the perfect fodder for a post and I’m glad I waited a day and a half to write about it because it’s just getting more ridiculous. I swear to God.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have noticed that I talk about my hands and #DontForgetTheCripple. Long story short, last January I had a nasty fall snowboarding and busted both my wrists/arms.

The bone is still broken, 2+ months later

After a few months the broken bone and sprain healed.  This last summer, though, the pain has come back and God only knows why.  I’ve tried creams, acupuncture, chiropractor, different massages, muscle relaxers, nerve drugs, steroids, injections, splints, and more. I’m at the point now where I can’t hold cups and I can’t dress myself again.

So, I had an appointment with Dr. Frankenstein a few weeks ago and I was supposed to get a referral to a different specialist because we have no idea what’s going on. She wasn’t sure if the new doctor would be able to help me, so she said she’d have the office get in touch with him and then they’d call me to make an appointment. She asked if I needed drugs and I said no, I’d decided to keep trying the horrifically expensive muscle relaxer/anti-inflammatory combo drug we’d started the week prior, even though it wasn’t working too well.

A week and a half goes by and I didn’t hear from her office or the new doctor. I tried calling once or twice, but since I work funny hours I never remembered during normal office hours. At that point the pain was on an 8.5 consistently and I was dropping cups of water and soda cans. The main assistant was out of the office so we didn’t know why I didn’t hear about the referral, but we made an appointment for their next opening.

6pm Tuesday rolls around and I plop myself into the doctor’s office. Mind you, I try to go to bed between 4 and 5pm, so I wasn’t in the best mood. 7:15p rolls around and I actually get to see the PA.  I tell her what’s going on and she starts quizzing me about my referral to the other specialist. Wait, what? I never got a call back, what do you mean I was supposed to be seeing this guy?!

Srsly!

I flipped my lid on Twitter. Half an hour later, I finally get to see my beautiful, brilliant Dr. Frankenstein.  She still has no idea what to do with me and I start crying because it’s late, I’m in pain, and I’ve wasted two weeks. Everything has to have healed in my arms from the fall by now, so I feel like a hypochondriac and she feels like an idiot.

We discuss referral options and she finds out I never saw the specialist she referred me to.  It turns out the referral guy’s office dropped the ball, and since Dr. F no longer has her office manager (who I hated anyway), things are falling apart a little while they try and replace her. She apologizes profusely and we make a plan for the next steps. Even though I hate drugs, we agree they’re best for me now so I can actually do things like shower, dress myself, and eat.

The next day, no call from the new specialist.  I call my doctor back on my way home and the PA sounds like she’s ready to kill the referral office.  Apparently I’m supposed to get “VIP treatment” and get in right away. I’m ready to go to bed (it’s 3pm) so I tell the PA if I don’t hear back by the next day I’ll call again.

Thursday rolls around and I make it to the pharmacy to pick up my drugs. The script’s been waiting for two days so all I have to do is waltz in and pay, right? Nope. There were conflicting instructions and they had to call the doctor to sort it out. I didn’t have time to wait, but the pharmacist said it would only take 15-20 minutes. I was ready to chew off my arms so I decided to wait.  45 minutes later, no drugs because the doctor’s office was busy.

Hoping for better news, I decide to call the referral specialist. The person who makes appointments is out to lunch so I have to leave a voicemail. Irritated, I call Dr. Frankenstein and leave another voicemail telling them that not only are the drugs effed up, I haven’t heard from the referral guy and had to leave a message.

They referral office calls back and the woman wants to call me back again because I’m on the bluetooth in my car. Eff you lady, it’s taken 3 weeks to get a call from you, I’m not letting you off the line without an appointment! After doubting her ability to understand time, I get an appointment for a week and a half away.

I’m beyond fed up. I have the drugs and technically I have an appointment, but there’s no way I’m trusting this new referral. I don’t care if he’s Einstein or Ghandi – my stubborn ass refuses to give him my business because his staff is incompetent and pathetic.  Dr. Frankenstein’s office is too busy to get through, but I’m hoping she can line up another one of my options early next week. She’s one of the few doctors I trust and sincerely respect, so I haven’t lost faith yet.

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