Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bedside Manner

I took my mom to an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon on Friday.

Let's start with the fact that Mom's appointment was at 3:00. At 2:45 I call the office (a couple miles from her home), and say "My mom is in a lot of back pain and I don't want her to have to sit for a long period of time. Can you please tell me approximately how far behind the doctor is running today?"

"Not at all!" the receptionist tells me.

"Great! See you in a few minutes."

We fill out the paperwork in the waiting room. It is now 3:20. I go up to the receptionist. She's about 25 with long, wavy, stringy hair down past her butt. Her eyes have all the tenderness of olive pits.

"Hi," I say. "I called at 2:45 and was told the doctor was on time. When will my mother be getting in?"

"Probably immediately," responds Pit-Eyes. She gets up to go find out. Or at least I think that is the idea. I go back to Mom and make a cushion out of my rolled up furry coat and put that behind her now-miserable back.

3:30 p.m. Still in the waiting room. I go back up to the troll's window again.

"OK. It's now 'immediately' plus 10. When is she getting in?" I stare into her eyes and watch them transform from black pits into perhaps the entire olives, with fire shooting from them like evil red pimentos. She says nothing, but stands up, her entire body glaring at me somehow, and stomps off to the back hallway where, apparently, there are riches of information to be had.

I turn to the full waiting room, to the audience of patients that has watched the interaction. "Guess what?" I address them. "She can get as pissy as she likes, but she doesn't scare me." Widespread discomfort envelops the room as people look down at their magazines or feet or the drab carpet. My mom lets out a little laugh.

Still no response from Troll Hag. She has disappeared into the sacred hallways.

At last a nurse calls us back to a room. My mother is visibly in pain as she walks. We sit in that room until 3:55. I get up and enter the hallway. There are 2 nurses and the Troll. "You know," I say, really quietly. The kind of quiet that proclaims having been pushed too far. "I am baffled." I look at each of them. "HOW hard would it have been to say 'the doctor is an hour or so behind today.' Really. Could any of you explain that to me?"

The troll bursts into flame, one nurse walks away, and one says "The doctor will be with you next."

"I'll believe it when I see it," I say.

And then, here he comes. Shuffling into the room in his clogs. I know this will offend someone, but men in clogs? No. Doctors in clogs? Instant evisceration.

But let's overlook the footwear and look at the medicine practiced by Dr. Douche:

1. His nurse told me when I made the appointment that we should bring Mom's X-rays with us. During his time with us he says "I haven't looked at the X-rays." (This is the guy who is a potential candidate to do cement injections between my mom's compressed vertebrae.) Later in the appointment he says "When I saw the X-rays, they showed that T-5, 7, and 10 are compressed."

2. He orders a bone scan. (I've been told by those in the back-injection ranks not to let anyone touch my mother without first getting an MRI.) I ask him the difference between a bone scan and an MRI. This is approximately my third question overall. He lowers his head, sighs and sits there. You can see the thought bubble over his head: Is she really wasting my time like this? Already I know that there is no way I'm letting Sir Douche touch my mother. (No danger there, actually. He didn't examine her in any way.) But I decide to use him to get what I need. I ask him to order a bone scan and an MRI. "We're going to get a second opinion from Dr. Non-Douche, and he'll need an MRI." He writes us an order for both.

3. I ask him if, in the case that this procedure is not in the cards for my mom (if the compressions are old injuries that have been jarred by the fall, kyphoplasty is not an option), what other sorts of pain management might there be? He doesn't even look at us as he says "Well, sometimes a brace is used. But on old people they cut into the skin."

My mom jokingly says "Yeah. Those old people. You just need to shoot 'em."

I look at her and say "I'll just have her put down like a horse," and then look back at Massengil. He looks at us with a blank face. Nothing. As though his features have grown so bored with all this that they've melted and dripped onto his white coat. I take the order from his hand and pick up my purse and help my mom with her coat.

We walk to the car. Slowly.

"You realize," I say, "that we're never letting this douchebag touch you."

"How is it," Mom says, "that he didn't read the X-ray but he knows what it shows?"

"He's a liar. And he's a liar in clogs."

I will tell you now that after I made the appointment with this "doctor," I heard from a friend who said "I wouldn't take a dog to him." By that point I was already in town and there was nothing to lose by going. Maybe the shoddy reputation was a fluke. But no.

I am grateful, though. I'm grateful that the door so clearly shut on this option. I pray almost nonstop these days for guidance about how to help Mom, and it showed up like a mushroom cloud here.


  • At 12:44 AM, Blogger Citlali said…

    Some men with licenses to practice medicine are just DICKS with licenses. Glad you know the difference. Kick him in the shins for me. = ] xxoo

  • At 11:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am soooooooooooo frickin' proud of you ... for having more sense and sensibilities than those socalled professionals at that office. Unfortunately I have had many similar experiences when trying my best to be responsible for my own mother's care. There are too many uncaring idiots with credentials, but at least you didn't accept the BS. Love to you and your mom. --S

  • At 12:36 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Citlali, I would've LOVED to have punched him. Hard.

    S, I can't tell you how much I wanted to start throwing their files and screaming like Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment.

  • At 3:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Keep looking - you will find a good doctor. I've dumped several because they were jerks. It's always the male doctors that are jerks too. Hmmmmm.....

    I'm down to all females except my orthopedic surgeon - but he isn't a jerk. Amazingly.

    The Rabbit


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