My Life

Let’s Do the Covid Time Warp Again – Part I: There Are Zero Refills Left on This Prescription

Today was rather surreal. Well, at least part of it. Two things happened, one with more eventual impact than the other.

First up, Partner and I share the same primary care physician. Said physician recently changed both his office location and his medical-group affiliation. We both like him, for the most part (there have been a few quibbles) and, more importantly, we’ve been going to him for a long time and he knows all of our creaks and complaints and phobias (He can walk into the exam room where I am huddled on the crinkly paper, take one look at my face, and instantly adjust all of my prescriptions in just the right way.)

This last bit is critical. It takes a long time to get a doctor fully versed on what makes you tick and how you like to handle the things that aren’t ticking correctly. It’s a learning process, on both ends of the curve. Eventually, there is harmony and mutual respect and no quibbling about what medications you may or may not need and whether or not you’re actually going to exercise or stop eating red meat. We have traveled that journey with this doctor, and the sun shines brightly on our relationship, wherein we both know that each of us is lying a smidge, but it’s all good and there is peace.

Naturally, when the good doctor announced his move, we both decided to follow his pied piping, faithful member of his flock that we are. (Partner took a bit longer to get there, as it’s his nature to analyze everything from 47 different angles and call his sister for consultation at least 3 times, but get there he did.) Trouble is, our theoretically “private and confidential” records are now trapped within the crinkly confines of Ye Olde Emporium. Doctor Piper cannot simply take them with him to his new sterile exam rooms, for perfectly understandable legal reasons. We have to choreograph this dance ourselves. Yay!

Partner made his opening chess move by calling the “old” office. I could only hear his end of the conversation and, to be honest, I really wasn’t listening all that well as I was invested in playing a game on my Kindle, one of those pointless but addictive time-traps that require a huge life investment just to move a fraction of an inch forward in the story. (Raise your hand if you share said shame.) Turns out we had two options if we wanted to follow the renegade doctor to his traitorous location further south in the metroplex.

We could go to the “new” office, where nobody knows our name, convince the staff that we had some degree of value, further convince them to fax a records request to the “old” office, after which the “old” office would then contact us to confirm our desire to depart (but don’t they already know that based on this phone call?), and upon receiving the confirmation the “old” office would then (apparently with dramatic reluctance) do something or other that would allow startling photos from my colonoscopy to breach the vindictive barriers between medical groups.

OR, we could just go to the “old” office and fill out a form that would bypass most of the drama and accomplish the same goal.

I think it’s clear which foreplay option seemed the most satisfying to me.

We hopped in the car and headed to the “old” office. And this is where the Covid Complications kicked in with high-level annoyance. We are no longer allowed to actually walk into the office, as if I don’t have the right to do so after the huge amounts of money my insurance provider has sent said office over the last decade or so. Nope, we must huddle in the tiny lobby of the building, outcast and unclean, wherein a sign has been posted. Said sign makes it clear that if we don’t have an appointment, we will essentially be shot the very second we try to open the door. (It’s Texas, these things happen.)

If we insist on interacting with the office staff despite our woeful lack of planning by not making an appointment, then we should press this little button over here and somebody will eventually get around to determining if our presence is warranted in any way.

Partner pressed.

Hours later, an unimpressed and masked woman we have never seen before, despite years of frequenting this establishment, opened the door, glaring at us as if we were personally responsible for the fact that she did not make the cheerleading squad in 1982. “What?”

We explained.

She did not seem to care for our intrusion explanation. (Why should she care? Our hefty insurance payouts were about to be directed to a different obscure bank account in the Cayman Islands.)

We explained again.

Finally, she acknowledged that we might have some small degree of jurisdiction over our own medical records and she scampered off to find the appropriate mystical forms. Hours later, she presented them to us. “Fill out the sections that I have highlighted.” (Oh, does she have some small degree of heart after all?) Then she ran away, mildly slamming The Door Which Must Not Be Breached Without An Appointment. (Okay, maybe not so much heart.) She didn’t give us a pen to write with nor a clipboard upon which to write, and I know they have tons of clipboards because they were constantly shoving them at me back when I was still a member of their cult.

Partner suggested we retire to my RAV4 so we could locate a pen and do due diligence with said forms. That was fine with me, until we were ensconced in said vehicle. Partner found a pen and easily completed his asylum application. Of course he did. He has terrific penmanship, and his annotations are crystal clear even if he scribbled his words whilst hanging upside down on a rope poised over a tank of sharks. Me, on the other hand? I lost the skill of legible writing somewhere in my 40s. I have to really focus on my work, and I can’t do that if forced to wordsmith on the dashboard of a RAV4.

“I’ll have to fill this out at home. You write better than me.” (Translation: “It would be swell if you could fill this out for me.”)

The translation was not received as intended. Harsh words were spoken, and we ended up driving to the casa in silence, where I quickly filled out the form at the kitchen table, mere seconds after my arrival. (In hindsight, perhaps I made much ado about nothing. It wouldn’t be the first time.) More seconds later, we were back in the car and rumbling toward the “old” office. Since the mess was basically mine at this point, I left Partner in the car and trotted toward the building with our forms.

Along the way, I spied an elderly woman who was slowly making her way to the same door. I held said door open whilst she ambled, as I could be her in a few years. We exchanged pleasantries, after which she tottered into a dentist’s office across the hall from my former doctor’s office. I could hear a hearty welcome from the dental staff as that door swung shut. Apparently, she was very popular. Good for her.

I approached my own destination door and pressed the button indicating I was not on the day’s schedule.

Nothing happened.

I waited a bit. After all, there might be something urgent happening within that might temporarily negate the need to be prompt with button pushers. Then I pressed again.

Still nothing.

We were on the verge of me doing something I would later regret, such as banging on the button until the police arrived, guns drawn, with me appearing on YouTube in an unfortunate video entitled “Gays Gone Wild”. I glanced out the glass of the lobby door, checking on the impatience level of Partner in my RAV4. Based on his distant body actions (you learn these things after decades of being together) he was contentedly doing something or other on his phone that involved Facebook. Good. We were not at critical mass, not yet.

I pushed the button again. Just a tap.

The door immediately flew open, courtesy of the same masked and disappointed near-cheerleader from before. “What?”

“I have the forms that-”

“Good. You finally filled them out.” She snatched said forms from my hands and slammed the door again.

I have a feeling that this chess match is far from over…

 

To be continued…

 

48 replies »

  1. Holding my breath for part next. My handwriting is unreadable too, but thankfully, the forms here are multiple choice. I always stare and panic when there are sections I have to write in. Like me name … ha ha ha.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Geez, your medical system is so complicated! I suggest that you DON’T get sick – period. That would fix all your problems (of course, then you wouldn’t have anything to blog about for the next instalment, so maybe not so good for you).
    Better solution, move to Australia – even better Tasmania (we are COVID Free and have damn big moat) and get never worry about health ever again. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Healthcare in America is woefully and unnecessarily complicated, not to mention extremely expensive if you can’t afford the right coverage (and many cannot). It’s ridiculous, but it’s not surprising, as the insurance and pharmaceutical industries are, for the most part, unregulated. They can do and charge whatever they want…

      But I’m very intrigued by that damn big moat. Don’t be surprised if there’s an unexpected knock on your door…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ugh! This is dance I know well… the forms, the gatekeepers who didn’t make cheerleading, the useless back and forth (why do I sound like Boris Badinoff in my head??) I learn this dance when Work Comp Insurance company took over my medical rights and decided what I could have, what I could not have, how many forms, and hoops and how long I will wait, just because. They also decide which doctor I can see.

    Good Luck!! 🤞

    Liked by 2 people

  4. That sounds like the control of commerce in healthcare. The last time I changed GP (General Practitioner) it took one quick phone call to the new one, who then arranged for records transfer. People sometimes criticise our NHS but it has lots of advantages!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for raising your hand. I know full well that others in this comment thread should also be raising their hands, but they are hesitant to admit to the shame of such a dark addiction. We’ll get through this mess together, you and I.

      I can’t recall the first computer game I ever played, but whatever it was, I’m sure I spent far more time on it than I should have…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations on your valiant efforts to cope with the paperwork of the medical profession.
    Several years ago I went with Pretty for a doctor visit (I have always encouraged Pretty to go to a doctor, but she is a reluctant patient), and the woman at the window gave Pretty a clipboard full of paperwork to complete at which point Pretty said I already filled out this paperwork the last time I was here at which point the woman in the window said yes, you did but that was in December and this is January so it’s a new year and you have to complete it again at which point Pretty threw the clipboard down on the counter in front of the window with a loud clanging sound and said, this is bullshit and walked away from the woman at the window who was speechless. Another doctor scratched off the list.
    So keep the faith. Always stay with the doctor who knows the importance of the pills you take.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel Pretty’s pain. The paperwork is out of control. Yes, I understand that there should be some degree of regulation and compliance, but once my answers are on record, shouldn’t they STAY on record until the situation changes? Sheesh.

      And I think we should be able to flip the script around. I should be able to question the doctors and the insurance companies on a regular basis as well. Why does this test cost so much out of my own pocket? How come I can go to Walgreen’s and get a generic for a fraction of what you are prescribing me? How can you justify this cancer screening not being covered? But no, I just get a bill and I’m expected to pay it, no questions allowed. Ain’t capitalism great? No wonder innocent clipboards get thrown… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • The one piece of paper that apparently no longer has any power? The one on which the doctor credo of “do no harm” was originally written. That document has been tossed aside by the Trump Administration’s “medical experts”. Well, at least the experts who haven’t been shoved to the side like Dr. Fauci…

      Like

  6. Quashed cheerleading dreams or not, that masked woman is a bitch (apologies to all female dogs who may have owners who read this comment). Having worked with medical office personnel (heck I WAS “medical office personnel’ when I was an allegedly useful member of society); such brusque and rude behavior garners the offendee (so you couldn’t do the splits the same as those other girls. Get over it and get manners. They’ll serve you better) a severe lashing about the head and ears. At least a write up in the Big Book o’ Nasty ‘Customer Service” Acts…I’d report her. I realize we all are to pretend to work together until whomever it is decides the crisis has passed and all that; but the fact that you and your made a PERSONAL appearance at the medical office door still demands R.E.S.P.E.C.T (sing it Aretha!). The voice on the phone who gave you the option to go to the office IN PERSON ought to be advised that Nurse Ratchett is on duty over there and is scaring the children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just don’t get how people can be so callous. I’m trying to be proactive about my medical care and, at least to me, someone who is in the healthcare profession would appreciate a patient BEING proactive as opposed to so many lazy folks who don’t bother to do the right thing until those things hit the fan. But it was very clear that the staff was done with me once they learned I was moving on. Courtesy and professionalism are dying arts.

      On a mildly unrelated note, I now feel compelled to dig out my Aretha Franklin Greatest Hits CD. Thank you for the earworm… 😉

      Like

  7. I sympathize with your experience with bureaucracy. You might like to look at the following on my site. B is for…..(more) blood which relates a not dissimilar tale.

    I had a look at some of your other posts, and I appreciate the humour.

    You are unfair to the republican governors ‘tho regarding Covid 19. I have written extensively on Covid as you will see if you look. For example. M is for…..Masks might enlighten and amuse you. Perhaps you might review your opinion.

    Kind regards

    Baldmichael Theresoluteprotector’sson

    Liked by 2 people

    • Whilst I appreciate the offer of reviewing your post on the Republican governors, your use of the word “unfair” in my direction indicates that there is little point in performing said review. I live in a state with one of those Republican governors who kowtows to Trump with a vengeance, and his actions (and inactions) have endangered the lives of millions. There’s nothing “fair” about that at all…

      Like

  8. The amount of time and energy that goes into taking care of ourselves is one thing. Having to put up with things like this makes me realize even more why it is terrifying to get sick and have to see a doctor. I love the way you describe this it is perfect. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Right before we moved here, we got word that our long-time family physician was retiring — AND our vet! It made our transition seem all the more perfect. I’ll be waiting with bated breath for your continuation.

    Oh, one more thing: Is your RAV4 new? You seem unusually fond of it. Though maybe that’s just part of the “a man and his truck” dynamic. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • The RAV4 will be 15 years old in January. To be fair, I was just trying to provide specific detail in my story, but I AM overly fond of said fossil and it has served me well. In fact, I was all prepared to buy another one (once this one finally bites it) until we rented a Hyundai Santa Fe for our recent trip to New Mexico. Don’t tell my current ride, but my man-truck love might be shifting…

      Liked by 1 person

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