Monday, February 15, 2010

my next calling....

I've decided today what I'm going to be when I grow up and retire--I'm going to be 'a pain in the ass' to everyone who needs one...starting with doctors.

I had an eye appointment today at 2:30. At 3 I walked over to the desk and was called. I was taken to a room and I started complaining to the technician. "I had two appointments today--I was to celebrate the Eucharist at a nursing home at 11 and meet with a couple who is getting married at 1. I was there, on time, for both. If I had kept either the folks in wheelchairs or the young couple waiting a half an hour I would have expected them to leave....Why do I wait a half an hour just to be called in? My appointment was at 2:30, why didn't I get in this room when I was told I would be?"

Well, you can imagine that conversation..."the Dr was in surgery" and I said, "did he get to the office late?" "No, but things got backed up..." And I said, "Why, what backed them up?" And she said, well, Mrs. Jones needed an injection we hadn't planned on?" And I said, "so why didn't you come and tell me I was waiting because Mrs. Jones needed an injection? I would have appreciated that...." And she said, "we can't give out that information because of the HIPA laws." and I said, "Well, I know from experience that Hipa laws suck--I can hardly find people from the parish in hospitals...but someone could come out and tell me, 'gosh, jim, the Doctor had to do a proceedure I can't name on a patient I can't tell you about and that's why we're late taking you in...."

Then she sent for the Office Manager. We had a good conversation, actually, she really listened and has had to go to doctors herself so she knew what I was talking about. I compared it to two things: one, if a service is supposed to start at 8 a.m. or noon and I delay it without explanation for half an hour or more, I wouldn't expect people to stay. After all, church is only about your Spiritual health and most people don't get that in the same way they 'get' physical health. Besides, if I'm a few minutes late for the Wed. noon service, everyone knows each other and I have to interupt their conversation to start the mass! You know people you are waiting with in don't in a doctor's office.

The second thing I compared it with was the Department of Motor Vehicles. At least I know and know fair well that going to DMV is a crap shoot. I have to stand in line to get a number and then wait for my number to be called--like at Deli--but I can be counting down all the time and always take a book to DMV. Sometimes you're lucky--I had to change my registration, since the DMV put the wrong description of my car on it and I'd been told that by a Cheshire policewoman who checked my VIN # and let me go...AND I had to get a new driver's licence because my wallet got stolen. I was in and out in 15 minutes! But I've waited an hour or more before. But I could see the #'s on the screen and knew where I stood.

I told her--the very patient Office Manager--that I love my eye doctor and he did surgery on both my eyes and I knew things 'happened'. I just wanted to be kept informed about 'why' my 2:30 appointment didn't really mean 2:30. I trust she took in my complaint and I truly believe the desk folks and nurses will make sure people 'know' they have to wait for a good reason. We'll see. But being a pain in the ass, especially a somewhat charming and very polite one, suits me well. I am somewhat charming and terribly polite--I still call people "Mam" and "Sir" for goodness sake.

Then there was the exam. It always takes forever for me. Oddly enough I didn't need to change my glasses. The Dr. suggested I get one of those little clip on lights to put on the altar book so I can see it better....Well, he's Jewish and doesn't realize what a liturgical faux pas (did I actually spell that right? my spell check allowed it) that would be.

Because of my age they dilate my eyes until my pupil is about the size of a gerbil and then make me click a thing every time I see a light and stare as deeply into my eyes as Spencer Tracy used to stare into Katherine Hepburn's eyes. Then he brings out the torture device--a little piece of glass that he puts between my eye and the light that makes me reveal all the security secrets I know and tell him about how much I used to masturbate as a 15 year old. I'd rather be water-boarded than have that light shined in my eyes....It's like staring into the sun on the equator at noon.

"Doesn't that hurt my eyes in some ways," I asked him.

"Probably," he said, 'but only short will wear off in a few hours...."

I left with two pairs of the plastic sunglasses over my eyes and drove home. There are still auroras around everything and my computer screen is blindingly bright. But I am committed to being a pain in the ass to the medical profession from this day forward.

I'd recommend that to you as well. They call it an "appointment" for a reason. Don't wait--get aggressive (though be charming and polite) and point out that you matter and your time matters and you need to at least have the courtesy of being apologized to for being made to wait and given some HIPA approved explanation for the delay.

Aging folks of the world unite! Let's get this handled, beloved....

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.