Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Help Me Rhonda

I had an idea of what my next post would be about, and this is not it. Doctor visits moved up to the top of the list because I had to call my doctor's office today and it's fresh on my mind.

My husband and I have had lots and lots of experiences with doctors and nurses over the years. Fortunately, for every "bad" experience we've had, there have been many good ones to outweigh them. In a perfect world, we'd pay nurses and teachers and all public servants way more than they even deserve, but I digress. Now that I've made it clear that I'm not a doctor or nurse hater (or even an "Anti-Dentite," to quote Seinfeld), allow me to share some of my recent frustrations from visits or calls to the doctor's office.

In general, I've found that it is becoming increasingly harder to find a doctor's office where I am perfectly content with both the doctor and the staff. I really like my current Fertility Specialist, even though he has a very dry wit. He's definitely a straight-shooter, which is actually one of the things I like about him. He's not the friendliest person I've ever met, but that's ok. I mean, no, I don't exactly like to hear my uterus compared to a sidewalk or a fruitcake, but I can take it if he knows what he's doing. The problem I'm having right now is with his nurse. To protect her identity, I'll call her Rhonda (which is ironic, since she very rarely "helps me"). She's not the nurse I see when I get to the office who shows me to my room and checks my blood pressure, thank goodness. When I have a question or problem or need to call the office for anything other than an appointment, "Rhonda" is the person I have to talk to. In fact, I've only seen her in person once. Rhonda is grumpy. I have tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe things aren't great for her at home. Maybe she has a rough commute every morning. Maybe her underwear is too tight. I don't know what it is, but she is very difficult.

Here's something I really don't understand. I'll admit, I've never worked in a doctor's office before. I have no idea how I would run the place or handle all the phone calls they must receive. But every time I call this office I have to identify myself by name and date of birth (not too strange so far) and then I have to explain why I'm calling. At this point I never know what is too much or too little information! Usually I start off cautiously, "Um, hi. Dr. G said I should call if such-and-such happens and um, well, I don't know what I should do next." Here's the part I don't understand: Rhonda always tells me that she has to go pull my chart and call me back. If I called her and asked her what time it was I swear she would pull my chart and call me back before she answered. Of course, I appreciate the fact that she wants to have my information in front of her before she answers my question, but don't we live in 2008 where offices are equipped with computers? Most of the time my questions don't require a team of researchers poring through medical journals to find the answers. I am completely confused by this.

It's even worse if I call and get the answering service. I have to leave a message for Rhonda, and I always include my name, date of birth, phone number, and reason for calling. You'd think that Rhonda would go get my chart and then call me back. Nope. She calls me back, has me repeat the reason why I'm calling, and then tells me she needs to pull my chart and call me back. While I'm thinking Seinfeld today, this is where I have my "Serenity Now" moment. All I need is this simple question answered or a basic piece of advice on what to do next! Should I come in and see the doctor? Should I just come in for blood work? How is my chart going to help you? Why didn't you look it over before you called me back in the first place, Rhonda?

Perhaps it sounds like I have anger issues. Actually, I just appreciate common courtesy. Rhonda is always very curt on the phone. I'm sure she is quite busy, but the other nurse at the office that I rarely have the joy of catching on the phone is really quite friendly. Rhonda also sometimes calls me "Honey" when she's really annoyed by my questions. I live in the South and I love it here, but I don't like a condescending pet name. If you're calling me "Honey" or "Sweetie" I'd rather if you were my husband, parent, or a nice elderly person who actually thought I was as sweet as honey.

As I've mentioned, I've never worked at a doctor's office. I really don't know the protocol. I'm not very good with directions either. If a nurse is taking me back to the room, she better just walk in front of me and let me follow. If she says, "Go down this hallway and turn left, then through the double doors and it's the third room on the right," chances are I'll end up in the men's room. Oh, and don't expect me to be able to find my way back to the waiting room either! I didn't leave any breadcrumbs, so I'll definitely be needing some help.

I know, I've been hard on one particular nurse today. Sorry, "Rhonda." I haven't even written about some of my receptionist stories yet. That must be a really awkward job to have at a doctor's office. Especially when I call and tell you way more than you needed to know to schedule my appointment for next Thursday at 1:20. 1:20? I must not be talking about my general practitioner's office. Nope - they take a 2-hour lunch break every day and close early on Fridays. Why 2 hours for lunch? I have no idea. But I've learned to be very specific when I go there. I went to have blood drawn to check my thyroid once and was seconds away from receiving either a flu or tetanus shot.

Probably everybody has strange doctor's office stories, but one of my favorites happened last month. I had a large hemorrhage in my eye and was really only concerned about it because I recently had LASIK surgery. I just wanted to make sure nothing weird was happening so I called the eye doctor's office. After I told the doc my problem she explained to me that the iris is the colored part of the eye and the pupil is the little black dot in the center. That was really helpful since I had never heard those terms before and am a complete idiot. Boy, some doctors talk way over our heads but some really must question our intelligence!

Does anyone have a funny doctor's office story to tell? I'd love to hear it but I have to go now. I'm waiting for Rhonda to call me back.


Andrea said...

Stace, I appreciate your sense of humor (love the Seinfield references) and I really admire the way you are able to share such personal struggles.

My doctor story: I have a new gynecologist that I really like. In fact, I even referred a friend there. But recently when I went in for my annual pap, I did find it very weird to be making small talk about my friend the entire time I was being examined! Awkward.

Amy @ Experience Imagination said...

Prefaced so you can read at a time when you can see the humor of it: The only funny doctor's office story I can think of has to do with visiting the midwife while I was in labor.

I'd been in very early labor all day and the midwife on call asked me to come in so they could check the baby's heart rate and see how I was progressing. Things were moving pretty slowly at that point, so she suggested I go back home and if labor didn't pick up by the next afternoon, I come back into the office for another check. She called for the receptionist so we could book an appointment. Only when the receptionist arrived with the appointment log, she told us they had me already scheduled for the next day with a notation of "period problems." I laughed and said, "Well, it hasn't really been a problem, but I haven't had a period in about nine months!"

I ended up being at the hospital the next day, so I never made it back to "my" appointment, but I've always wondered what happened to the poor woman who had scheduled it in the first place.

Amy @ Experience Imagination said...

RE: The comment you left on my post about the pain of miscarriage vs. pain of childbirth.


You were one of the women who came to mind as I wrote that last paragraph. I am inspired by you and women like you, who have experienced so much pain, yet are sharing with the world how much God is doing in your lives. It is encouraging to read about your struggles and His grace. Thank you for sharing.


P.S. Feel free not to publish this. I'm only contacting you this way because you don't have an e-mail address on your blog.

Stacey said...

That would be totally awkward. I appreciate how doctors try to talk to you as a distraction but I agree that certain topics are strange at that moment!

That is hilarious! Thanks for sharing and thanks for your blog on the topic of pain. It was well-written and touched my heart. In fact, it made me feel like I have the strength of wonderwoman. :)


Stacey said...

P.S. Amy, I recently came across your post about comment moderation. I know it's hard to have a conversation on a blog! Leaving that comment here was just fine. (I hope you come back to read these!)

bonjovijennie said...

a rule i try to live by with doctors visits is to have the "kill them with kindness" attitude toward the receptionists. one office i used to visit, the front desk staff was ALWAYS grumpy. no matter what day or time i scheduled. i probably wouldnt enjoy strangers demanding things of me all day. but i figure if i am rediculously nice they might feel bad for being jerkish and then try to be nicer for the next person.

love the blog stacey!