A is for Abnormal doctorsAfter waiting for six hours to be seen, I got into the doctor's office. The nurse starts off saying I was allowed to talk only about one body part since the doctors only address one problem. One body part = one problem. Then she started taking medical history.
"Any trips lately?"
"Yes. I went to Honduras for a three week vacation?"
"That's Belize now."
"No. Belize used to be British Honduras."
"And now it's called Belize so there is no Honduras."
"There is still a Honduras.”
“Really, how do you know?”
“They stamped my passport."
"Where is it?"
"Right beside Guatemala. In Central America."
"That's where Belize is."
"Yes and Honduras as well."
"Are you sure?"
She leaves the room and I start calculating. I’m there for the stomach flu but also to get re-referred to my gynecologist and dermatologist. (In Quebec every two years you get cut off from your specialists and need a doctor to re-refer you.) Since I also needed a referral to a cardiologist that made 3 referrals plus one the extra body part to discuss (bowels are not actually connected to the stomach in this office). That meant I would have to cycle through the waiting room four more times. With an average waiting period of seven hours, that would be an additional 28 hours. No way.
When the doctor arrives, I ignore the one body rule and start with the referrals back to my existing specialists. She asks why I think I need to see a gynecologist. I describe my hot flashes. She writes on the referral: "Patient claims to be menopausal at 57. Please investigate."
Then she ask why I think I need a dermatologist. I pull up my shirt to show her my keloid scar that has started growing again and describe how the dermatologist gives me a cortisone shot to stop the growth. She writes on the referral sheet: "Patient believes she has a scar. Please investigate."
Before she gives me the referral, she stops and looks at me. “You know, this all comes back to me. It’s on my head,” she says. For what? Apparently she is only allowed to order a certain amount of tests for each patient before the Quebec government brings her in for questioning. She doesn't want her name ruined by my demands.
"Are referrals considered tests?" I ask.
"No," she says glumly.
She asks me some questions about my stomach flu. I describe the symptoms and mention that I suspect parasites. I lived in Mexico and recognize the symptoms.
"How would know if the symptoms are the same?" she asks me.
"I dunno -- maybe because they are the same?" I reply.
She writes out tests on a sheet. Fourteen in total.
"I'm giving you all the tests because I don't know what is wrong with you?" she says.
"They will take four to six weeks to process."
"Is there anything I can do in the meantime?”
"Eat small portions and find medication from the pharmacy to help you."
"And the recommended medicine would be?"
"Ask the pharmacist."
Ok. Then I decide to tackle the final frontier: The referral to the cardiologist.
"Who told you to have a stress test on your heart?" she asks.
"The doctor in emergency," I reply.
"Why were you at emergency?" she asks.
"Because while sitting in my dentist's chair, I started experiencing the classic heart attack symptoms and my dentist thought I should get it checked out."
"How would your dentist know that?"
"Ah, because he is a doctor?"
“Where you having a heart attack?”
“No I was cleared for that but the doctor thought there was something going on with a valve and I should get a stress test.”
"Well why didn't the emergency doctor do the stress test?" she asks.
"Ah, because, they don't do stress tests in an emergency room."
"Well, you'll have to go to your family doctor to get a referral to a heart specialist."
"I don't have a family doctor. That’s why I am here at the clinic."
"Why don't you put your name with the local CLSC clinic? It will only be a year or two wait."
"I've been on the waiting list for five years now."
"That can't be true. I take my patients from the list and they only wait a year."
"Well, I'm sure my daughter will want to speak with you after I drop dead from a heart attack. I'll mention your name."
She gives me a dirty look while writing out a prescription for a stress test. Not a referral, a prescription, the kind you take to the pharmacy. On it she writes: "Exercise test. 57-year old woman has a heart."
Be sure to sign the Health Accord petition. Stop Harper slicing 36 billion dollar from our health care system. Visit the Health Coalition to learn more. We need better doctors and less lousy walk-in clinics.