Some might consider this a little too personal, but I feel like I need to be heard on the matter of big government and health care. Also, it should be noted that I feel the only reason I am able to write this up is because I'm running on adrenaline.
I don't like to make a big deal out of my personal life, but I get Medicaid assistance because my Dad's insurance does not pay for office visits, which I'm sure you know can be quite expensive even for just a simple check up. Despite my physical disability, I do not suffer from any ongoing illness, so for a long time a clinic visit every now and then to get my one prescription renewed seemed practical. However, over the past 8 or 9 years I have had an increase in a certain type of common infection which, if I do not get medicine for right away quickly become debilitating.
Since it is difficult for me to get to the doctor as I have to have someone else take me (my Mom, who works) the local Medicaid clinic will typically send out a prescription if I call and say I'm not feeling well. I do have a specialist I see, but it is nearly impossible to get a timely appointment with her, so if I get sick I have to make due with the clinic. So, around the beginning of October I started feeling bad and called the clinic.
Problem number one: it's basically impossible to talk to a real person. They prompt you to leave a message and force you to wait at least 24 hours for someone to call you back. Initially, I called on a Monday morning, heard nothing, and so my Mom called the local pharmacy and indeed they had an antibiotic for me. I took it and felt decent for about a month, and then gradually started feeling bad again, so I called the clinic back, again on a Monday. Heard nothing that day. So, Tuesday morning I get up, and as I'm eating breakfast I check my phone and see that I have a voice mail with a time stamp of 7:30 a.m. from the nurse practitioner saying she wants me to come in for a few tests, and tells me not to eat anything.
Oops! Ok, so I call back and she says then that I can't get in until Friday. FRIDAY? Really? Well, I decided if I can just talk to her directly she'll know what to do, so I wait. Now, it's early in the morning, I'm exhausted because I haven't been sleeping anyway (this is Friday morning, btw), and I'm pretty out of it. I get in almost right away and am met with the blood draw nurse who proceeds to manhandle me. I'm a very small, slightly framed person, and I'm kind of wincing when she's jabbing her fingers into my arm trying to find a vein. She didn't so she went for my hand. That's fine, I didn't mind. I just wanted something to make me feel better, and some food. She takes the blood, and when she pulls the needle out, I start bleeding all over, and she starts to freak, putting my hand in a vice grip like nothing I've ever felt before. That would have been alright too if she weren't squeezing right on top of my knuckle joints while they're bent. Oh wait, did I mention the ones in the back of my hand do not bend? I told her she was hurting me, and she actually snapped at me. Again, I'm pretty out of it, and I can't see exactly how much I'm bleeding, so I decide to just relax my arm a bit hoping to relieve some of the tension. My hand was pretty sore afterwards, and I had an enormous bruise, but I figured in a week or so that would all go away. I mean, it's not like I've never had a difficult blood draw before. Then the NP comes in and actually asks me what kind of pills I want, like I'm the one with the medical license. I was feeling pretty desperate, so I did give her a name, and got the RX filled later that day. Honestly though, "So what do you want me to give you?" doesn't give me a lot of confidence in someone who is supposed to use their education to help people. I actually believed she'd call me if that wasn't the right medication, and when I started feeling better I just assumed it was. It is not my job to make sure they call me. Or is it?
So anyway, even though the puncture wound began to heal, my fingers started to ache, and get progressively worse. After about two weeks I went back in to have it looked at thinking maybe it had gotten infected or something, and the nurse practitioner ended up prescribing me Ultram. Seriously? Ultram even though I told her I can not under any circumstances take heavy pain killers. Ok, whatever, total waste of time.
Oh, but I am not finished.
That same Friday morning I got up feeling not quite right once again, but I chalked it up to worrying about the pain in my hand, and once again not sleeping well. Saturday I get up (last week) and I feel like hell. But I figured I'd be ok until the following Monday. Called the clinic again, and again waited. No return call. Checked with the pharmacy Tuesday. No Rx. My Mom called the clinic and left a message. No return call, no Rx on Wednesday. On Wednesday afternoons after 4 p.m. the clinic takes walk-ins, so I went in hopes of talking to a real person instead of an answering machine. First thing we asked when checking in was why no one had returned our calls, and couldn't get an answer from the lady at the desk. Oh well, at least we were there and I was convinced this time I'd get the right meds for what's making me sick. I told the NP my symptoms, and I guess she just figured as soon as I said I have pain on my left side that it's a kidney infection. And once again I trusted her, though I've had a kidney infection in the past and it felt nothing like this. She gives me a prescription, I get it filled and take it right away, but notice no change. I'm not stupid though, and I figure maybe it'll take at least two doses before I notice a difference. As I type this, I'm still feeling like trampled dirt, and the only thing keeping me from going crazy is a prescription pain patch Mom got from a co-worker. Anyway, I was thrilled when the clinic called Friday morning. I was thinking maybe they had noticed something right away and were going to change my meds. Not. They were calling to give the results of my THREE WEEK OLD blood test, and even better, had no record that I had been there on Wednesday.
I cannot express how frustrated and angry I am, and even though I know the ER is for life threatening events, I feel I'm going to be forced to go simply because I can't trust that I will get any results from my current test. The last time I gave a sample of anything it got lost, and there was no record I even gave it. Changing doctors is a hassle, but I am so fed up with this I am going to see if I can start going to Mom's GP. You know, with a real staff that actually answers phones, or at least will call back if you have to leave a message. And a person who can at least relay symptoms to him and he will do something more than just write out the first drug that comes to mind.
I have an appointment with my specialist, but can't get in until the 29th, and I'm not making any promises that I'll be going to Thanksgiving dinner at my Aunt's with the way things are going.