Mission Not Accomplished

Friday was supposed to be the day my tonsils were liberated from my body.

But alas it is not to be.

My pre-operative experience has been…troubling? Is that the right word?

No,  I think I meant to write “giant clusterfuck.”

If you had read this earlier post, you would know that I had a pre-op consultation last Friday that was about as helpful as a duck fart. The nurse practitioner could not tell me anything about the surgical procedure I was about to undergo and decided the whole-fasting-before-anethesia was not something I needed to know upfront.

This past Monday, I called the doctor’s office first thing to try to schedule an appointment with the doctor.

“But you had a consultation with the nurse practitioner.”

Yup. But I have questions about the actual surgery that she wasn’t able to answer.

“Did you review the paperwork she gave you?”

Didn’t give me any.

“Well let me put you on with the nurse.”

Oh joy.

When she got on the phone, I said straight off that I was really only calling to schedule an appointment with the doctor so I could get the answers to questions she didn’t know.

“Well I don’t know what you mean Speaker. I spent 45 minutes with you answering all your questions and concerns.”

Uh, what now? The appointment lasted 15 minutes. I should know because it was at 4, I was back in my car at 4:15 and had ample time to slam my head repeatedly into the dining room table, which prompted my husband to call the doctor’s office at 4:30 to try to schedule a new consultation. Office hours being until 5, they of course were already closed for the day so my husband ending up talking to the emergency phone service.

But I guess I was getting my lengthy consult and didn’t realize it.

“You know you were so anxious that I guess you weren’t listening to me.”

This is when I began to wonder if I was on some kind of hidden camera show, like at any moment my doctor and Ashton Kutcher would pop out and yell “We got you! Ha! Okay, here’s how the surgery’s going to go…”

But didn’t happen. I explained that I knew exactly what she said, which was why I was trying to get another consultation. I said: I had to ask you about fasting before anesthesia. I had to ask that! You didn’t even tell me that part. 

“Well I was just trying to help the doctor. And I felt I needed to spend the majority of the time getting you to calm down.”

Okay at this point I’m wondering if she was mixing me up another patient? It’s not like I was swatting at imaginary bees, defecating freely from my bowels and howling like a banshee at the appointment. I might have had a confused look on my face, but that’s because I realized I could be getting better information from a Snapple bottle cap.

I felt I needed to get this train, which was currently heading full-speed to Crazy Town, to make a stop at Saneville. I figured I would be showing my face at this office again and didn’t want her to “accidentally” stab me with her stethoscope. I asked her if she could answer my questions, which she did–poorly–and thanked her. She wished me luck and said she would have the doctor call me.

Still waiting.

I call on Tuesday. When I identify myself, the secretary takes on a tone where I know I have been labeled that difficult, deranged, annoying, lunatic patient. I can almost hear her eyeballs rolling around in her head. I request an appointment with the doctor.

“He’s booked.”

Okay. Well my surgery is in three days and I need to talk to him before I have it.

“I know the nurse talked to the doctor and they said you could cancel.”

Well that’s nice of them to decide that for me. However, I want my tonsils out. I’ve already requested the time off from work, got a substitute in place, met with my sub to go over plans.

“…”  — This is to signify dead air.

I just want 10 minutes. I don’t even need to actually see his face. A phone call. A simple phone call that explains the procedure.

“He can’t give you 10 minutes.”

Alright. Can I ask you a question? Do you think I’m being unreasonable for wanting to talk to the doctor who is going to perform my surgery? It is my body, my health, I’m being put under. Is this so unreasonable?

I sense a whiff of understanding.

“I see you have a post-op scheduled for Oct. 26. Do you want me to schedule a consultation with the doctor?”

Yes. Yes!

“What time?”

Anytime. I will clear my schedule for this appointment.

An hour later, I checked my voicemail on the cell phone I never use and there was a message from the nurse practitioner.

“Hi Speaker, I talked at length with the doctor and told him how anxious you were and he said you didn’t have to go through with it. It’s not a necessary surgery to have and you can continue to live with the condition. Let me know.”

There’s about a .003% chance this doctor will be performing the surgery, but boy do I want to meet with him.

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113 comments

  1. Are you shitting me?! Meet with him and explain to him why he is no longer your doctor. That’s horrendous! Wait a minute! Did you go in or did you just send in Hugo? That might be why the nurse is confused or she has a pill addiction.

    1. I wish I was using hyperbole, but this really went down this way. I can only imagine what she said about me to try to mask her unbelievable incompetence. I’m definitely bringing Hugo with me to the appointment. I’d like to see that nurse practitioner try to look him in his blazing, hypnotic eyes and said she gave me a proper consultation.

  2. omg, what a dickscapade you are dealing with. seriously, you need me and wifesy to advocate for you because when shit gets like this we go full on tilt dyke. it’s not a card we always pull, but boy is it worth it for these situations. and to put it plainly, can you switch doctors? that’s the first thing i’d look into in a sitch like this… man, speaker, i hope you get some answers or at least some quality care. what the feck, the pharmacist at the walgreens would answer more questions…

    1. You are truly a genius at coining new words. I am most definitely using “dickscapade” at my appointment. I’m actually thinking that the doctor has no idea what went down and the nurse is trying to cover her ass, but we’ll see. We shall see. Me and Hugo that is. We’re going full on tilt puppet.

      1. you MUST keep the reports coming…. i think this dickscapade is going to full tilt hit that nurse right in the c u next tuesday… whaaaaat? well, you know what i mean. lool

  3. Wow! Amazing! Is this doctor in private practice? Stunningly unprofessional, not to mention incompetent. I hope he and his staff have the opportunity to be in your position someday soon so they can get their cosmic comeuppance. There are ways to report unprofessional conduct if you can’t resolve this on your own….

    1. No, no, no–you don’t want to meet with him. The one who knows what’s he’s doing. It’s much better to talk to the nurse who has never seen a tonsillectomy and accuses you of not listening to her.

    1. Yes. The whole experience has left me reeling. I’ve actually gotten physically sick over it. Right now my tonsils have gone into overdrive and I’ve lost my voice.

  4. I am seething and I am not, last I checked, Speaker7.

    The decision to find another doctor is the right one. I am really glad you came to this conclusion because you don’t want an asshole in your mouth. Period.

    And when you find another doctor, make sure you tell him/her exactly what transpired. These guys all know each other. They should know about this.

    I might just go and hang out at his office until he will see you. But that might not be convenient for you. It would be incredibly satisfying to scream at him. Might hurt your throat, though.

    How about a certified letter stating:
    (1) why you will not let him or anyone in his practice near your tonsils
    (2) a demand for copies of all records, tests, x-rays, gum you may have spit out during appointments at his office; the works.
    (3) a copy of the letter you are sending to the State Medical Board regarding the nurse-practitioner
    (4) a copy of the letter you are sending to the State Medical Board regarding the treatment by the doctor and his refusal to consider your issues.

    Perhaps a letter to the NP’s husband is in order too. These two must be an item (yes I am a sexist bitch, but sometimes the signs are evident).

    1. Thank you for all your wonderful suggestions. Unfortunately I feel like crap right now so my energy level is at nil–thanks to my tonsils which should be gone, but we all know that story.
      I am interested to know what the nurse practitioner said about me to everyone in that office to make them feel it was absolutely okay to deny me basic patient rights.

    2. Elyse,
      I want to thank you over and over again for your terrific advice. I went to my regular doctor’s office yesterday, told them what was going on, and got a referral to another ENT.
      I also got another prescription for amoxicillin because I have tonsillitis again. It makes me smile to think how that nurse said I could just live with this condition. She really cares. How long before my organs started failing from repeated use of antibiotics?

      1. Glad to help, Speaker7. Most docs are really wonderful as are most nurses. These weren’t. They were, in fact, assholes.

        I wouldn’t worry too much about the Amoxicillin. But if you are ask your pharmacist (who should know how often you’ve been on it). Because while I am an expert patient I am still a fake medical professional!

        Hope you feel better soon and get rid of those damn tonsils. (Oh, and when you go to the new doc, tell him about the old one. Use the old one’s name. Hey, and since you work at a school, you might have some opportunities to share your knowledge.)

  5. This is drearily similar to my own recent experience with the medical world. May I suggest that you get another doctor? I guarantee this guy is no good. If he’s so over scheduled that he cannot make 10 minutes to call you, do you really want him potentially rushing through a procedure that requires a scalpel? It’s only routine to them.

      1. Really, is there anything he can say or do to rectify this? Will you ever trust his staff? He knows exactly only as much as his staff has told him. If there are any notes in your chart at all – it will only say that you were overly-anxious and too distracted to listen to the pre-op instructions.

        You (or your insurance company) were billed for a 45 minute consultation when you got 15 minutes of shitty patient care, the office staff has discussed you at length, and he can’t spare 10 minutes before he uses his scalpel to remove your tonsils and a good chunk of change from either you or your insurance? What could he possibly say or do that will erase that memory for you? There wouldn’t be anything that could do that for me. I understand you want relief from the stranglehold those tonsils have on you, but I’d have to have a whole lot of Valium to get myself to the surgery center on the big day. I’d want to punch him, and his NP in the face and I am not a violent person.

      2. I’m mainly going to say my peace and to hopefully prevent this from happening to someone else. I’m thinking the doctor knows very little about what transpired and the 10-minute thing came from the secretary not from him. I know if I was a doctor and had something like this happen, I would want to know. If he acts like the rest of them, then this meeting should last about 2 seconds. But you’re right, I don’t trust his office staff in the slightest and have zero confidence in them. I couldn’t imagine if there was a complication and I had to contact them about it–that is a definite sign that I should seek care elsewhere.

      3. It took me awhile to get to this point, but I’m definitely canceling this appointment and moving on. I think I was in shock and also had a strong desire to get these yanked out that I was trying to overlook the doctor’s obvious shittiness. He sucks a big tonsil stone because not once did he ever contact me even though he knew I was trying to contact him.

        I already have a referral elsewhere.

  6. Holy friggin’ A! This blows my MRI story out of the water. I mean, at least my doctor has been reasonable and helpful. You’d expect an insurance company to be an asshole, but this is unbelievable. I’m genuinely sorry you are going through this. I remember the weeks prior to having my tonsils removed. I was constantly sick and just wanted a reprieve. This sucks balls. I think the most appalling part is how the hysteria cloak has been laid on you. It’s certainly not them, you’re just a nutjob.

  7. Oh. My. God! That could have actually been a stand-up routine. What a bunch of useless people! I’d be afraid to let them touch me. In fact, I’d be more likely to call Dr. Nick from the Simpsons than have this man touch me while I’m under. Poor you. :-(

    1. “The something’s connected to the red thing. The red thing’s connected to my wristwatch…”

      Yeah, I’d have more faith in him, too. At least he knows things are connected to each other.

      1. I live in Canada where health care is free and NOT always the best (read..you get what you pay for) and I haven’t always had an easy time with doctors but Speaker’s experience is just ridiculous. I would be SO frustrated trying to deal with these idiots I think I’d be tempted to find DIY instructions online.

      2. I know what you mean — I’m in Australia where we’ve got a similar system. It’s not always great, but it’s free. (And you can pay for better care.) I always wince when I read about the difficulties getting medical care in the US.

      3. Australia, cool! I’ve always wanted to visit there. I’ve got a facebook friend there who is raising a motherless kangeroo on his own. Very sweet. :-)

    2. Wendy,
      Do you have Dr. Nick’s number? Because he’s sounding pretty good right now. Homer did survive that heart operation after all. Well, yes, Lisa did help a little, but still.

  8. Holy cheese and cannoli, S7. If this was a B-Grade movie, I’d suggest you cut and dye your hair and dress in a similar fashion to the NP. Then you could go in for the procedure, hit her with a dose of conveniently-located chloroform, and swap places with her. Then she could have her tonsils out, and you could provide her with sub-standard care when she woke up.

    But since this is real life, I’m just going to suggest a new doctor,

    Good luck!

  9. Oh, crap, that’s horrible. I know the feeling. You can check out my new feature tomorrow – Alice Rants -for my latest follow-up visit. I think many doctor’s receptionists are ticked off because they have to be around patient germs all day for a secretary’s pay, so they take it out on us. I could go into a rant, but well, save it for later.

    Also, and this just delights me, Thing Two has been sick a solid week. Still running fever. I took her to the doc on Monday and got an antibiotic for her but she wasn’t getting better. I finally called the pharmacist. Turns out she was supposed to be getting three times as much medicine each dose as was directed on the bottle. So you know, pharmacists are totes awesome too!

    1. I just read your post. That is some horrible shit especially when you’re feeling so shitty. Would these people who treat us so crappily put up with this kind of care? No. Then why should we.

    1. I know! I know! I’m so annoyed that for the majority of my interactions I was in too much shock to say “Are you really fucking saying these things to me? And really think it’s okay?”

  10. In UK we have the NHS – free health service ANC I use the term service loosely. But Speakers experience is a monumental suckfest. Even the overworked, underpaid, by the book NHS docs will happily take a 10 minute call to answer a few questions. Definitely get a new doctor. I wouldn’t want to be anything less than fully conscious around this guy.

      1. Yeah, the 10-minute thing was the real deal breaker. At the point I was like: Seriously? You can’t give me 10 minutes. The doctor and nurse can talk at length about me canceling my surgery, but can’t give me 10 minutes to explain the surgery that they said I could cancel if I’m so anxious about it.

    1. The reason I’ve stuck it out for as long as I’ve had is because he has this stellar reputation as being the tonsil-guy. I work with people who have gone to him who didn’t remotely have the experience that I did. I guess I’m just the lucky one.

      1. I had a couple of recent same day surgeries and I was bombarded with information and instructions…so much so that i was bordering on feeling like my intelligence was being insulted…I suppose that excessive instructions and guidance beats out too little anyday.

        This doctor should be happy that you have the good sense to leave the name of his practice out of this blog.

  11. Holy crap!
    I had a situation several years ago that required a specialist. My GP gave me a referral. I met him once. He told me my problem was not the tumor in my abdomen, but rather that I drank too much caffeine. After 2 months of tests he was still not returning my calls. I spoke to his nurse and requested that my records be sent back to my GP – she refused. So I went back to the GP and laid it out for him – he was shocked that I had not yet had surgery. He personally walked me into the office of a general surgeon and sat down with me. He got my records and told me that he would never send another patient to the specialist. I had surgery 2 days later. Bottom line – go back to your GP and get another referral – fire this jerk.

  12. Have they billed you yet for the consultation for the surgery you’re now not having with this doctor? I am anticipating a sequel here when you have to take on your insurer. Fish can be your editor when you write that post.

    1. Oh I wouldn’t at all be surprised if I get billed for the surgery I didn’t have. In fact I expect my next go around will be with some asshole insurance person.

    1. Oh I have been telling everyone about this. Everyone. Mainly because they’ve been saying “So big day on Friday.” Well, no. Not happening. “Why?” Do you have 10 minutes?

  13. Holy clusterfuck, Batman. What the FUCK? Once again, more horror stories that remind me why I became a patient advocate. This practice sounds like a colossal nightmare. Dump those idiots. Find another doctor. I know it’s a hassle, and you should absolutely not have to do this, but for your own sanity and safety, do it. Email me if you need any help, seriously.

    1. Thanks M. Weebles. I wish you lived in my town because you would most definitely be accompanying me to the doctor’s office. And then reading a prepared “Fuck You Nurse Practitioner” statement.

      I’m calling my GP today to get another referral because the more I think about it, the more I read people’s comments, the more it dawns on me there is no way in hell he’s doing the surgery. Even if he had no idea what happened, he still never called me or consulted with me.

  14. Someone gave me good advice- try to have a friend or relative accompany you to any important medical consultation. The theory is that with two of you listening, you’d retain more of the information and pre-op instructions. (This is presupposing the medical staff is actually prepared to give you helpful info!) In your case, however, a friend would be a reliable witness to the insanity. Either that or bring a small voice-activated recording device?

    God save us all from inept, ass-covering idiots.

    1. Yes, I’m definitely bringing someone with me to my next ENT. It is helpful with two sets of ears, but also to have a witness when someone starts labeling me as “anxious and hysterical.”

  15. Holy shatballs, sounds like someone wanted to play a little blame game. I work with someone who has had her prescription (one she NEEDS) sent to a Rite Aid in Arizona (um, that’s kind of a drive from Oregon) over a dozen times in the last year. It’s always a “clerical” or “paperwork” error, and it makes one wonder how many other mistakes are being made behind the scenes.

    1. Yes this was definitely all my fault. What normal person wouldn’t be like “Oh you don’t know anything about this surgery and yet you’re consulting with me about it? Hey, how bout you learn something by performing mine! Let’s do it right now. I’ll get the whiskey.”

    1. I live in the good ol’ US of A. The best health care system in the world! politicians like to trumpet. It is, if you’re rich and connected, but if you’re a regular person, like me, it’s a crapshoot.

  16. I haven’t commented on this blog enough so I’m not sure what the protocols are here. Is this a family friendly place? Either way, I have lots of four letter words for that doctor. Ugh. The worst.

    1. I really have a strict policy about using words like “fuck” or “shitballs” or “incompetent asswipes” in the comments section. I encourage readers to try to include at least one when commenting.

  17. Sounds like you’re dealing with a shitload of incompetents. I hope you find another less asshole-y group of physicians to deal with, because that doctor and his staff should NOT be allowed to deal with humans. Good luck!

  18. Ok, this is not going to improve. Youve been badly misrepresented to your surgeon and your necessary trust in him is gone. Move on to another practice, it wont improve. Hes trying to break up with you and you should let him. Dont speak of it with a new doctor they probably will bump into eachother at the porsche dealership and be awkward…..

    1. But I love him so much!!! Wait…what am I writing? Yeah, I’m breaking up with him too. We might have to work out some joint custody where he gets my tonsils on the weekends, but I need to move on.

  19. I am so sorry to hear this Speaker7. I was hoping to come here and read of your successful surgery and your beautiful sunshine and rainbows recovery.

    It sucks ball hair that they have treated you that way. Why don’t these people think about the fact that this is SURGERY. Just because it’s routine to them, it’s not to you and you need to be treated with respect! I agree that there should be repercussions for that NP – a letter might be a good idea – when you are feeling better of course.

    1. Yeah it was a real shit-sultation. It was mind boggling that I couldn’t get a basic question “How is the surgery going to be performed” answered. That seems like a basic 101 consultation question.

      I’ve got a referral elsewhere. I’m sure the office staff will miss me.

  20. What a horror story. How appalling to be treated with condescension and ultimately dismissed just when you need clear information and support. I’ve had similar experiences recently and understand how frustrating (or maddening) it can be. I agree with many above who say it’s time to search for a new surgeon, though depending on your insurance, that’s not necessarily an easy thing to do, is it?

    1. Maddening. That is a perfect word. I am moving on. I met with my regular doctor’s office and explained what happened. Even before I got to the good parts–the “you were too anxious to listen to me” and “He doesn’t have 10 minutes for you”–my doctor says “You need to go somewhere else.” I love her.

  21. S7, please don’t let these people have anything to do with removing any of your body parts. Run away. Run away. There are doctors out there that actually care about what they’re doing and who they’re doing it to.

    1. I have run away back to my general practitioner who is setting up an appointment with another ENT. I hope the new office can handle my “anxiousness” and my hard-hitting questions like “So what’s going to happen.”

    1. You are so right. I feel really embarrassed about the way I acted. I mean who do I think I am wanting to know the basic information about a surgical procedure being performed on me? I’m such an asshole.

    1. The love I feel for you for this comment is causing my tonsils to swell with pride. This way they’ll be nice and big when I send them as little Christmas gift to my favorite nurse practitioner in the whole world.

  22. Are you frickin’ kidding me, S7? *#%@^&*!@$^*fuckshitballs**@#%&^. I think I explained to you that I have a mild form of Tourette’s so I apologize for slipping in the midst of my coded cursing.

    Back to the fact that you had about the worst health care experience I’ve heard in recent days. Did you ever consider that Ashton Kutcher might perform a better surgery? Did you ever consider that you could just yank them out yourself by tying them to a doorknob? Did you ever consider that this is like Weekend at Bernie’s, the doctor has actually died, and the entire staff is enacting an elaborate plot to cover up his untimely demise? Did you?

    1. I love your Tourette’s. I’d like to see more of it in your comments. I actually tried to get Ashton as my new ENT and he had 10 minutes to explain to me that he was too busy making the world laugh on the really good sitcom called “Two and a Half Tonsils.”

      I am intrigued by your door-string method, and want to try it, but I want to be 100 percent so I’m able to investigate the Weekend at Bernie’s plot. I think you are right on about that.

  23. I am livid on your behalf.
    I agree with everything Elyse recommends, and if you are within 500 miles of NYC, I’d love to come down and help you out at that office. Sadly, I do an excellent focused rage where doctors are concerned.
    If you do have any other interactions with this bozo, please do your best to document them.
    In the meantime, I hope you find someone just as qualified to perform the surgery, who has a staff equally qualified.

    1. Thanks El Guapo. I could have definitely used a little focused rage in my encounters with that doctor’s office. I have documented everything that’s happened thus far–you know with less swearing and snark. And I have decided I’m canceling my appointment with the guy because why wait any longer? I know I’m not going to have him do the surgery so I might as well get a fresh start somewhere else.

      I will miss that nurse though. Wait…what did I write? I’m sorry my tonsils are so swollen, they have stopped the flow of blood to my brain. I meant: I would like to kick that nurse.

  24. That’s just fucking nuts. I explain in greater detail the process of giving a vaccine and the possible reactions than they explained your surgery.

    And yet, after watching some of my co-workers in action, your mind-numbing experience does not surprise me.

    1. It did feel very movie-esque, but not one of those fun ones. More like one of those Lifetime Movies (which I’ve been watching because what else are you gonna do when you have tonsillitis?) where the guy seems so wonderful at first, but then you find out he’s into dog-fighting or sexting your teen daughter or both.

  25. I’ve had a hospital lose my pee getting it to a test only to pee in a new cup and get kicked out ten minutes later with a prescription. After a three week long talk with billing (I mysteriously had a lot of expensive pee testes done. Surprising to do in ten minutes) they dropped my entire bill. But the point remains, my PEE is still out there, somewhere! No seemed to care about where my bodily fluids went to.

    I’ve had a GP send me for tests because she didn’t think I weighed enough, only to mix me up with a different vegan patient whose blood work had a lot of nutrients missing and scaring the crap out of me. I left shortly after that mix up.

    I had my tonsils out when I was in grade school, my mom got the consult more than I did.

    Generally, doctors and nurses and pharmacy people are great. They’re jobs are hard, but they knew that going into it, so shortchanging even one patient is crap and not to be accepted. Do what you have to, send the letters that need to be sent as soon as you can (or make hubby do it). People like this in the medical field need to be known about. Leave reviews on their websites, so anyone else looking for a doctor will know to avoid them. The one thing I learned though is that getting horribly angry never helps. Be calm, be honest, be rational. Be the person that is so collected and rational that they WILL start to think that they’re crazy and you will get results.

    I wish you so much luck with the next doctor and your surgery. It really isn’t too bad in the long run. It hurts, but unlike your constant sickness, it will not hurt anymore after you’re all healed. Think of it that way!

    1. Thanks Beanie,
      I’m planning on being cool as a popsicle soothing a tonsil crater when I call tomorrow to cancel my appointment and tell them another will not be needed. As much as I’d like to say “Oh, and fuck y’all”, I will have to content with flipping off my phone.

      I’m sick right now and it sucks although I’ve been watching a lot of amazing Lifetime Movies. I know the recovery’s going to be sucko, but it’s temporary. This, on the hand, this recurring tonsillitis is never going away.

  26. I’m glad you’re finding a different surgeon. Oh, and when you get your bill, you might want to check what they charged for that consultation with the NP. Charging for a 45-minute consultation when you only got 15 minutes seems kind of fraud-y — and you might even be able to prove it, if the answering service your husband talked to keeps records.

  27. Wow! This is crap. I’m so sorry you’re getting the runaround, Speaker. You have a right to get all your questions answered. I say, stand your ground! You have to be so proactive in your health these days. I’m sorry you’re going through this.

  28. I missed this post last week. But I have to say – why so worried about someone cutting out something in your throat? Are you obsessed with the need to know what happens inside your body when someone renders you unconscious and takes out a knife? I think you may a mental problem which makes you unreasonably want answers to questions you should not even be asking. The doctor knows best, and that’s all you need to know. No wonder the poor nurse has to spend 3 hours and 45 minutes to calm you down….

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