Saturday, January 14, 2012

If you can't sleep, don't count sheep

This might be one of the best quotes ever from a doctor – and you know there are a lot of good quotes out there, right? But, check this one out: "you're abusing my medical privilege." What do you think?

Well, actually, that didn't come from the doctor directly – one of her assistants called me to say that the doctor thought I was abusing her medical privilege, because I went in to get blood drawn for two tests, and when I got there she had three test kits out – what's that third one for, I asked. Testing for a bunch of chemicals in my body – she explained it, kind of. I wasn't sure I wanted it, but I said yes anyway. Then, after she had drawn my blood, she said I needed to pay ahead of time, which had never happened before – usually they just bill me. I hadn't brought any money or methods of payment – how much is it, I asked.

$700. For that one test. $700 – I don't want that test, I said. Definitely don't do that one. The other ones I know you can bill me for, because they're the same companies that we've used before.

Then, a few hours later, when I checked my voicemail, it turned out that the doctor had called my mother to tell her that I desperately needed this test. My mother does usually pay for my medical bills, but of course I didn't authorize the doctor to call her at all. She had no idea what the doctor was talking about.

And so, as you can tell, I was abusing the doctor's medical privilege.

I love that line – I really do. And, it came with a directive that, because I was abusing her medical privilege, I really didn't need to come in for my final appointment, she didn't want to see me ever again, I could just have my new doctor call her to fax the paperwork.

Right – that doesn't sound suspicious at all. I'm sure she wasn't the slightest bit worried that I might tell her that she hadn’t been of any use to me at all, that I feel worse than when we started, that her office is totally incompetent and disorganized and frantic and that's her responsibility, that half the time she doesn't even listen to me, that she’s smart and has a lot of information but she doesn't follow up on things – you have to keep reminding her, no matter what, and when you're there for a chronic health problem it's kind of annoying to keep reminding the doctor of what she's supposed to do, right?

Remember when she called in the wrong prescription, and it took me a week to figure it out? When she prescribed a drug that didn't actually exist, and the pharmacy was looking all over for it. When she kept asking me useful questions, like: do you think you would know what it would be like to feel better?

Do you think you would know what it would be like to feel better?

Do you think you would know what it would be like to feel better?

Or, on our last appointment, no before I was abusing her medical privilege I guess, the appointment before: do you think you can get better?

Oh, I'm sorry – I thought I was in a doctor's office. I thought you were trying to help me get better.

And, she even asked, eight months into seeing me: do you smoke? Really? Have you paid any attention to me at all? Do I smoke? Do you breathe?

I'm going to have to use that line, though – stop abusing my medical privilege, okay? It's almost as good as that sign outside a church that I've seen a few times, but every time it rings as true as the last – but, dammit, somehow I can't remember it exactly now – something like this:

DON'T COUNT SHEEP
WHEN YOU'RE TRYING TO GO TO SLEEP
TALK TO THE SHEPHERD

But better – I’ll have to go back there to get the exact wording – the ending I know was definitely that, because I kept thinking talk to the hand, right? No, honey – talk to the shepherd.

Oh, wait – I think I remember – here you go:

IF YOU CAN'T SLEEP
DON'T COUNT SHEEP
TALK TO THE SHEPHERD

Words to live by!

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