This month has gone by so quickly. Most of it has been spent trying to find a new family doctor since WeeWantsItAll’s clinic closed on December 31, 2002. No Name, who I was seeing at WeeWantsItAll’s clinic, has decided to move over to the Communist Clinic. The name Communist clinic is very applicable in this case. The doctors who join this clinic here in our city apparently sign a contract that virtually holds them prisoner. The old boy’s club, which has been practicing out of this clinic for the past 30 years leaves much to be desired. They consider themselves infallible and sit on little thrones.
When we first moved back “home” from the west coast in 1995, I went to this Communist clinic. I was given the option of three doctors who were taking new patients. I made a terrible error in judgment. I picked this idiot, Gum Boots, who had been playing doctor for the last 25 years. It was only later that I realized if a doctor who had been practicing for 25 years still needed new patients there might just be a problem. Well let me tell you there was a problem.
I have lived in five other cities and never had a problem with doctors before coming back “home”. Gum Boots was my first experience with a medical doctor who should have had “idiot” tattooed on his forehead. This man was not standing in line when God handed out brains!
Before I go any further with my epistle, I must reiterate that these writings are my perceptions of the events that occurred in my life.
Let me tell you a bit about Gum Boots. When I first went to see Gum Boots, I had my medical records with me from my previous doctor in another city. I presumed wrongly that Gum Boots would take all of 15 minutes to read my records. My former doctor had documented my battle with pre-menstrual migraines and listed the medication he had prescribed for me. Gum Boots agreed to continue the medication. By this time, I was experiencing debilitating migraines along with other symptoms that I did not understand. Since Gum Boots was extremely unsympathetic about my migraines I was wary of mentioning my other weird symptoms. I did not want to make any waves or jeopardize my migraine treatment. I had no idea that I was suffering from the symptoms of Graves’ disease. Gum Boots obviously had never heard of Graves’ disease.
I will never forget the day in April, 1996 when I went to see Gum Boots to get my migraine medication refilled and he called me a nut case. He told me that I had high blood pressure in his office because I was worried that he would discover that I liked my migraine medication too much! My previous doctor had noted my blood pressure problems in my records. My previous doctor had also noted that I had been on this migraine medication for nearly 10 years. No other doctor had ever voiced concern about my migraine medication. In fact I had a letter from each of my last two family doctors that clearly stated that I had never abused the medications I took for migraines. I asked Gum Boots that day in April if he had ever read the medical records I had brought with me. He told me in no uncertain terms that he was much too busy to read them. He then told me that he would no longer treat my migraines and that I would have to do exactly what he wanted me to do or we would have to part company. I left Gum Boot’s office in shock but absolutely sure that as far as I was concerned we had parted company that day.
The next day I called the Communist Clinic and told them that I wanted copies of my medical records. You should have heard the belly aching that went on! This clinic had never before given a patient a copy of their own medical records. I finally called the College of Physicians and Surgeons to complain about the lack of compliance by the clinic. A few days later I had a call from Gum Boots. He told me that he would like to see me one more time. I told him that hell would freeze over before I came to see him again. Gum Boots then tried to threaten me. He told me that he did not have to give me my medical records if they were a danger to me. By this time I had become much wiser. I asked Gum Boots who he thought those medical records were a danger to – to him or to me? Gum Boots never answered that question but after a few moments of heavy breathing he slammed down his receiver. The next day I had a call from the Communist clinic telling me my records were ready to pick up.
After reading Gum Boots notes in my records, I came to the realization that all doctors cannot be trusted. I also came to the realization that all doctors do not write the truth. The medical information that Gum Boots had recorded was mostly false information. He had wrongly recorded my birthday, my symptoms, how long I had suffered with migraines etc. I am surprised that he got my gender right.
A few months later, as I was sitting at my parents’ kitchen table; I crossed my arms over my chest and to my horror realized that the lump in my breast had doubled in size. What to do? I did not have a new family doctor and Gum Boots was out of the question. I called the Communist clinic and explained the problem to the receptionist. I asked her if one of the other doctors at the clinic could refer me to a Gynecologist. The receptionist, who I have to assume, was not a mental giant, instead of asking another doctor at the clinic to refer me she asked Gum Boots. Gum Boots told her that he did not believe that I had a lump, that he would not refer me to another doctor and that no doctor at the Communist clinic would refer me because of an imaginary lump. Imagine the utter stupidity of Gum Boots who insisted that I did not have a lump that had been documented in my previous medical records.
A few days after my last conversation with Gum Boots, I called my former neurologist’s office and a gynecologist’s office. (My former neurologist had been involved in the treatment of my migraines for many years while living in this city.) I was told that I would need a referral from a family doctor before I could make appointments to see them. In desperation I called the neurologist’s office a second time and told the receptionist about my dilemma. The receptionist’s reply was quite a surprise. She told me that I should have told her about my dilemma the first time I called because they all knew that the doctors from the Communist clinic did not properly refer patients. She told me that she would make an appointment for me to see the neurologist as soon as possible. I then placed a second call to the gynecologist’s office. I knew that I needed to have the lump in my breast examined as soon as possible. I told the receptionist at this office about my dilemma and her response was exactly the same as the neurologist’s receptionist. The gynecologist’s receptionist told me that they were very aware of the fact that the Communist clinic doctors had problems with referrals and that I should have mentioned my dilemma in my first phone call. She was only too willing to book an appointment for me.
I saw the neurologist on July 25th, 1996. He was compassionate and caring. He wrote a letter to Squirt and asked Squirt to become my new family doctor. He also outlined his choice of treatment for my migraines and asked Squirt to comply. I saw Squirt for the first time less than a week later, and Squirt had no problems complying with the neurologist’s instructions. Interestingly, the neurologist had me continue with the same medications that I had been on for 10 years; the exact same medication that Gum Boots gave me grief about.
I saw the gynecologist the second week of August, 1996. The gynecologist did a thorough exam and booked me for a mammography within 5 days of seeing her. I had a phone call from the gynecologist on August 29th, 1996 just two days before my daughter’s wedding. The gynecologist told me that even though the lump in my breast was very obvious it had not showed up on the mammogram. (I learned an important lesson that day; all lumps do not show up on mammograms.) She told me that she had booked an appointment for me with a surgeon and that the appointment would be in a week’s time. As it turned out, the fine needle aspiration was not definite so I underwent a lumpectomy in November, 1996. I was very fortunate; the lump was benign.
The migraines and the other horrendous symptoms I had been experiencing continued to plague me throughout 1996 and 1997. By this time I was so paranoid about the migraines that I did not dare mention the fact that my heart raced, my hands shook, anxiety ruled, my nights were sleepless, the muscles in my legs were deteriorating and that I felt as if I was coming apart at the seams. In November 1997 I lost my voice and began to have trouble swallowing. At that time I also noticed occasional bouts of breathlessness. My legs were so weak I could barely manage stairs. I finally went to emergency at a country hospital at the end of December. A nice doctor, The Old Man, saw me and immediately ordered a battery of tests. I saw him again in January, 1998 at which time he requested one more test. On January 25th, 1998 I received the phone call that changed my life. The Old Man called me at work and told me that there was a reason for my terrible migraines and for all the other symptoms I had been experiencing for the last 6 years. I had Graves Disease. I find it incredible that Gum Boots explained away my migraines and high blood pressure with the most ridiculous reason he could think of. The man was obviously too stupid to consider that a valid medical problem was causing these horrendous symptoms.
After the December 31, 2002 closure of WeeWantsItAll’s clinic, my family doctor has chosen to join the Communist clinic. I am sure you can understand my reluctance to follow No Name to the Communist clinic. After picking up my medical records at the Communist Clinic I vowed never to darken its doors again. Just passing Gum Boots on the street makes my hair stand up on end. I could not imagine being in the same building with him. Not only does Gum Boots have an insulting and threatening “bedside manner” but he is a pathetic and inept diagnostician.
Since I do need a family doctor, especially since I need to have follow up done on my abnormal test results, I decided to make an appointment with the Hustler. He happens to be the only other doctor in the city who has his own clinic. I went to see the Hustler on January 14th, 2003.
The afternoon before my appointment I suddenly had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to have my husband accompany me to the appointment with the Hustler. Thank goodness that my friend Jan insisted that I listen to my gut feelings.
I copied my last three abnormal test results and gave them to the Hustler. The Hustler informed me that he would accept me as a patient until the new foreign doctors arrived at his clinic. He expressed concern about my medical treatment during the last five years. The Hustler brought up the subject of a medical malpractice suit. He implied that he would feel better about treating me if we began legal proceedings against the doctors who mismanaged my treatment. The Hustler told us that we should not wait “until it was too late.” before we began legal proceedings. I am not sure what he meant by that. Hopefully he did not mean that I am about to “kick the bucket”. My husband and I made it very clear to the Hustler that we had NOT talked to a lawyer and that we had NOT explored legal avenues. The Hustler then informed us that he would need copies of my medical records and that it would probably take him quite a while to read these copies. He went on to say that since our health care did not cover the time he would spend reading my records, he would have to charge us $200.00 an hour. He would also charge us $200.00 an hour to write a summary of my medical records after he had read and studied them. I asked the Hustler if after charging us $200.00 an hour he would tell me to go and see someone else or if he was then prepared to “see this to the end.” He assured me that he would see this to the end. He told us that even after he transferred me to the care of one of the new foreign doctors, he would continue to over see my case.
At the moment I am going through my medical records to determine what exactly I need to photocopy for the Hustler. I am also thinking through his proposition. I will have to predetermine how many hours this man will spend reading my records. If he spends two hours the cost is doable but if he spends five hours it becomes a “whole new ball game.”
When I got home at noon today, I called the city hospital to see if my CT scan had finally been booked. Since No Name will not be at the Communist clinic for at least another month, I was beginning to worry whether I would be notified about my CT scan booking. After explaining my situation to the receptionist in the CT scan department, she told me that my scan has been booked for February 28th, 2003. The receptionist confirmed that they would be using dye when doing this scan. Thank goodness. With out dye they don’t have a “hope in hell” of seeing anything amiss.