Sometimes I don’t even have to try to cause trouble. It just finds me. Particularly when I’m in a medical setting.
Last week I had my pre-op registration appointment and final OB visit before the amnio-and-c-section gauntlet. What should have taken 90 minutes all told took well over 3 hours.
Apparently, nobody signs consent forms until a week before surgery. But I’m not having an appointment next week ‘cause my doc says I don’t need one. He forgot about the forms. The hospital didn’t, and sent me back to the doctor’s office. The receptionist happily informed me that we’d have to schedule an appointment for next week to tend to the paperwork.
Um – No. I’m not making a 90 minute round trip with three kids, down a road that makes me have massive contractions because of all the bumpiness caused by road construction, plus asking my poor husband to take half a day off work to play chauffeur, just to sign two pieces of paper. You can either fit me in for that five minutes today, or we can do it a few minutes prior to the amnio in a couple weeks. You pick.
She whined. She stalled. She put me on hold and filed her nails for five minutes, hoping I’d go away. Then she told me I could come back up to the office and wait for the doctor. After waddling all the way back there, she informed me that the doctor had gone to lunch and wouldn’t be back for a half hour. I stuck it out, and when the gatekeeper receptionist finally let me into the inner sanctum the whole ordeal took… five minutes.
Gatekeeper: 0, Me: 1
About that time, the hospital scheduling nurse tracked me down. I’d checked the box for a pharmaceutical consult; did I really need one? Could I please come back and discuss it?
Back down four floors and across the hospital. Natter offered me a wheelchair; I should’ve taken him up on it.
The problem: with Babies 1 & 2, I was given a narcotic as my primary painkiller after surgery, and ibuprofen in between narc doses. I can’t do ibuprofen. It seriously messes up my stomach. Post c-section nausea from pain meds is not my idea of a Good Time. The response from the hospital with babies 1 & 2: Well, I guess you’ll just have to gut it out till your next dose of narcotics.
With Baby #3, I put my foot down and insisted on talking to a pharmacist. You have more painkillers in that pharmacy of yours beyond ibuprofen that are compatible with alternating doses of narcotics. FIND me one that I can substitute for the ibuprofen, ‘cause this whole “you’ll just have to spend every other four hours in pain” business wasn’t going to fly a third time. Lo and behold – a solution was found, and I wasn’t spending half my time in agony for a week postpartum. Obviously, the solution to this problem is to insist on talking to a pharmacist.
The hospital admissions nurse was properly horrified, and insists that since it’s all in the notes and orders now, it won’t be a problem this go-round. We’ll see. I’m still perfectly capable of wreaking havoc on doctor and nurse nerves if I’m in pain, and I’m not above camping out in the pharmacy with my IV pole and nursing gown until they give in and find a solution. I did something similar when Natter was born, after all.
Having theoretically cleared that up, we headed for home. But there was one more round to go – apparently the doctor’s receptionist wasn’t happy with the first round and wanted to go again.
We were practically in the parking lot when the hospital admissions nurse ran out the door and grabbed me. The amnio appointment, which was nailed down months ago, apparently has come loose. The doc’s receptionist has it on a different day than the hospital, and insists that I rescheduled it.
Well, I did. I moved it from Monday (where she’d scheduled it arbitrarily) to Tuesday, when we have childcare. She apparently moved it back to Monday and said I’d insisted on the change. The hospital admissions nurse took this round, and after 20 minutes on the phone with this whiz kid managed to finally convince her to check the DOC’s schedule rather than the CLINIC’s schedule. Lo and behold – he’s slated to do my amnio on Tuesday! Which is what the hospital has down! And what my paper from her says! Well, shucks, I guess it’ll have to be changed to … Tuesday!
Gatekeeper: 0, Me: 2
I really hope she doesn’t have the ability to change the doctor’s orders for medications or anything. But I think I’ll print off my Drug Allergy stickers and wear them on my forehead again, just in case. I did that when the Moose was born, and nobody tried to give me the drugs I’m allergic to. (They nearly did, with Rosebud. Hence the stickers.)
The funny thing? The hospital admissions nurse remembers me from last time, three years ago, when the Moose was born. This is NOT a small hospital. I’m apparently not remembered as a particularly offensive patient; I guess she just recalls that I stood my ground and either explained until someone gave in, and refused to cater to the institutional belief that the Doctors Are God and the Staff are Their Prophets… and refused to budge until they either capitulated or could give me a really good reason.
Most of the time they gave in. The irony is that I often get told that I am an excellent advocate for my own health care, and that they wish more patients were as proactive. I rarely get told that kind of thing during the standoff; it’s generally quite awhile afterwards.
So – you see? I don’t always go looking for trouble. Sometimes it just comes along on its own. Fortunately, most of the time, I enjoy a good fight.