Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pain in the…
By Jan Beedle




My crucial appointment with a pain management specialist was at 11 a.m. on a Friday in April. I decided to arrive at 10:30 a.m. to deal with the usual paperwork for a new patient. Due to one delay after another, I don’t think it mattered that much. I wasn’t called into the inner sanctum until 12:30 p.m. Meantime, the receptionist called for Cindy and two Cindys collided in the doorway. They could have left in worse shape than before.

Noticing on the paperwork that the office charges if a patient is 15 minutes late, I wondered, what about if the reverse was true?

After turning in an hour’s worth of paperwork, the receptionist called me to fill out more of the white stuff. Mind you, I was there for leg and hip pain. By the time I left, I suffered from leg, hip, back and neck pain. The chairs in the stuffy waiting room were not built for longevity. My body was molding into the chair.
The door from the inner offices burst open. A well-dressed, but rumpled street clothes exclaimed to the outer staff, “Off to lunch; outa here.” Guess this is what is referred to as pain management.

In these tight quarters, I noticed waiting patients hacking and sneezing. I realized I could leave with Asiatic Flu, hives, along with the back and neck pain, but my leg and hip pain might be gone.
A dapper dandy entered the picture. He carried an expanded matching briefcase. After a wink and a few coos, the aggressive young sales representative sailed into the offices. This led me to question which was more important – medicare, Medicaid payments or drug freebies?

Ah, a patient with crutches hobbled out to set up a follow-up appointment or preferably, knee surgery. Receptionist informed him he might have to wait and call back to enlist the services of his favorite surgeon, while he recovered from heart surgery. Whaa-aa-a?

A pleasant smiling face ushered me into a small room at 12:30 p.m. where I waited another 20 minutes, after answering the same questions I submitted previously on the lengthy paperwork. At last, a comfortable chair and another upon which to rest my swollen feet.

At this office, I didn’t have to disrobe, wrap myself in a piece of stiff cotton, exposing my body, as I jumped onto a cold examining table four feet higher than I could step. I usually devised a way to climb the obstacle, exposing more skin than I hoped. The door would swing open at that moment, with an, “Are you decent? At least, I didn’t have to face that question on this day.

The assistant stated, “I need to go over a few items with you. Remember, you can’t take narcotics from any other doctor while coming to our facility or you’ll be promptly dismissed.” Really, didn’t know I had been seen by a doctor or accepted.

I spoke, “If I had gotten the first narcotic from you, I wasn’t aware of it.”
My mind raced to the rest of the day and the weekend. My sister and niece to be picked up at the Dayton Airport at 3 p.m. and are staying with us through the weekend; granddaughter’s wedding is Saturday; our sixteen-year-old cat with kidney failure and diarrhea; our twelve-year-old dog upchucking this morning…could I deal with much more? Hoping to be pain-free by now, I pictured myself struggling to walk down the aisle or shoeless.

I made it through the doctor’s visit without a hitch. He set me up with a painkiller to last until after the injection, which was to be the following Thursday. The PT set me up for my first PT session the next morning.
Thursday morn, Hubby and I showed up at the appropriate time at the Dayton Mall office. Doors were locked tightly and no lights. A nurse saw us trying to get in and said that no one was there on Thursdays. We went to use the phone at Urgent Care and the receptionist offered to call to rectify the situation. Apparently, someone or someones goofed, because Dr. only gave injections on Fridays at this office. I called when home to reset. Personal obligations took priority until April 23 at 9:15 a.m. I’ll reschedule PT after the pain subsides. Watching great-grandson tomorrow and a once-a-year writers seminar the next Friday. Hope I have enough painkillers to make the date. By now, I’m prepared for a nervous breakdown…trauma, trauma.

After reading the AARP magazine from a year ago (only one of two) in the waiting room, I realized the need to reform health care was surprisingly accurate.

Through my personal experience, sounds like some infrastructure is needed in the business of turning out healthier bodies. Due to lack of health care professionals, patient overload, a ton of paperwork and time limitations, Urgent Care becomes any old time care.

Finding out the basic doctor took a much-needed week’s vacation, I fear catch-up took its toll. Could a physician ever catch up? He needs a rest occasionally to keep alert and geared to patient needs.
The AARP article claims that Americans spend more time and dollars on health care than on food, clothing and housing; they spend five times what they spend on gasoline and oil.

Can patients afford to take time off work for Physical Therapy, doctor appointments and other treatments? With lay-offs and job loss looming, this is not a good idea. These people are twice as likely to suffer bouts of depression, heart attacks and strokes. Pain can cause people to “feel guilty, ashamed and demoralized.”
Meanwhile, I’ll deal with the waits like everyone else and accept the fact that I am fortunate for the health care I do receive. Thanks to all the physicians, nurses, technicians and other health care workers for the effort to continue to provide the best available health care in the world. It all boils down to the fact that coordinating and communicating these efforts in our overpopulated country is becoming more of a chore.










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