I’m fairly well acquainted with our modern healthcare system. Since I manage a few health conditions, I’m no stranger to doctor’s offices and testing situations. Thankfully, I’m also blessed with good healthcare coverage. More and more I notice the faults and failings of our current state of healthcare here in this country.
I’d also like to admit that I’m very fortunate to live in an area with excellent hospitals, one of them a level I trauma center. However, I’m more and more skeptical. As patients we receive very little time with our healthcare providers. Apparently the insurance companies dictate they must spend less than 15 minutes per patient. Add to that they are double and triple booked for time slots; it adds up to disaster and error.
Case in point: during the last few weeks I underwent nuclear stress testing. My cardiologist belongs to a huge group of physicians and they have a wonderful and large office. Their testing suite is incredibly small and it cranks through a huge volume of patients. Though it’s run efficiently, I had to stand in the waiting room the other day before I was called in to receive my injection of radioactive material. Thankfully I’m able to do that. My elderly mother insisted on coming with me so I left her in the hallway on a bench. Once injected I was given a pager and allowed to head to the 4th floor waiting room, a much larger and more comfortable area. Ok, ok, not so bad.
After the scan, I was slated to meet with my doctor. I had left my mom in the 4th floor waiting area when I returned to the 1st floor for the scan knowing I would return to the 4th floor for my appointment. Once back on the 4th floor, we then moved to another waiting area for my appointment. When I was ushered in to the exam room, the nurse thought I was there for a six month checkup. I explained I was there after stress testing to discuss results. Now, please understand, my first appointment for the stress test was called off because of my EKG and I was sent home wearing a holter monitor that day. I returned five days later for the chemical stress test, then a week later for the resting portion of the test. Why I was scheduled to meet with the doctor immediately after that I have no idea since even I knew no one would have had time to read the test I’d just had done. Oh, and I had heard nothing about the holter results.
I’d already told the nurse I didn’t need blood testing since I’d had it done last month at my endocrinologist appointment. They could access those records. She was going to do an EKG but I then explained I had just come from my resting stress test and I was sure they had a record. Ok, fine. Then she affixed the little doodad to my index finger to measure oxygen levels and pulse. According to the technology my pulse was 138. It didn’t feel that way to me. She insisted on an EKG. Why she didn’t check my pulse the old fashioned way I have no idea. The EKG said my pulse was 83. She left muttering that her doodad must not be working correctly. Ya think? After many more minutes of waiting, my doctor stuck his head in to apologize for the wait but he had to find someone to read the test I’d just had done.
Long story short, he finally returned. Then we discussed the fact that I seem to go in and out of bouts with atrial fibrillation. I’m fortunate that my doctor is sensitive to the fact I have anxiety issues and he was very kind in his explanations. But my anxiety was ratcheted up a few notches when I discovered I would be taking new meds.
I start the meds today and am trying not to think of the possible side effects. Instead I’m looking forward to feeling better. But it leaves me wondering many things, not the least of which is the fact I’ve taken a beta blocker for MANY years due to palpitations we thought were due to anxiety. I have to think maybe it masked these bouts of afib for awhile. Most of all the whole experience reinforces that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing in the world of healthcare these days.
One must advocate strongly for one’s self and family members. Do not be afraid to ask questions or say no. Doctors and nurses are incredibly hard working but they are human and make mistakes. We are just cases to them. I get it. I don’t like it but I get it. This has been created by our healthcare insurance companies and it is horrible. But it is our current reality and I make certain I know how to navigate that reality to get the best treatment option for myself and my loved ones. Don’t let them run roughshod over you. You are a person and your life matters.