There’s a reason why people are afraid to go to the doctor – they’re afraid. Some are afraid of needles. Some are afraid of the tests conducted (and even more afraid of the results). Some are afraid because they fear taking medications (and their side effects being worse than what they’re taking the medicines for to begin with). Some are afraid because they don’t want to get sick(er).
Or, if you’re like me, you’re just afraid because you feel like you’re never, ever treated like an actual person.
I’ve had my run–ins with the medical profession before. (Heck, I haven’t even written about half of them). But it’s getting exhausting to continually change clinics and doctors because of medical folks treating you like garbage all the time.
Yesterday was the fourth time in three weeks I was in the doctor’s office. It was my seven-year-old’s third doctor’s appointment in a week. We have been home for three weeks straight with back-to-back-to-back ailments.
-Week 1 was my crazy, immediate, life-distrupting Texas Cedar Pollen allergy that hit me like a freight train and took me down by my nostrils and itchy eyeballs into a full-nelson for an entire week.
-Week 2 was the start of The Cough of Doom™ that hit Baby V and Baby Sis, which was quickly succeeded later that week by the Puketastrophe™ that hit our house with vigor.
-Once the pukes finally subsided at the start of week 3 (only taking down 2/3 of the family), did The Cough of Doom™ take center stage with a vengeance and begin the crazy amounts of doctors appointments leading to strep.
Last Monday my husband made an appointment with the peds clinic here at the Army hospital, and took her while I kept the little ones at home. Her cough would tell the story itself, as uncontrollably hacking as it was, but we had a few requests – 1) new, stronger allergy meds, 2) more asthma “back-up,” 3) a good cough medicine, 4) a strep test/culture, and 5) an asthma action plan to allow for an inhaler to be kept at school. The doctor barely accomplished any of that, hardly listening at all to what my husband had to say. As soon as he left the clinic, he immediately withdrew our children from there and signed them up to clinic closer to our house that I was currently using. They TRICARE lady said it would take 24 hours for the switch in clinics to take affect, so we had to wait until Wednesday for her to be seen again.
Meanwhile and simultaneously, my oldest son began to cough similarly and show signs of being sick, too. He now had it, and, for all we knew, she had strep and was untested and coughing wildly and spreading it to everyone, and we had to wait 24 hours to know.
Wednesday came, we took the two kids, and, just as we’d feared, she popped hot immediately with a “positive” from her rapid strep test, her throat angrily red and snarling at the doctor through his laser-beamed flashlight spectacle. A doctor and nurse who seemingly cared what we had to say (thankfully), Penicillin was called in, some other remedies called in, including a popular allergy nasal spray, but her allergy medicines were not changed, just upped, with no prescription cough remedy for her prescribed. My son was given a good cough medicine, though, but despite his low-grade temp, snarling lymph nodes and red throat, his rapid strep test did not come back positive. We’d have to wait for the culture to stew and percolate for about 48 hours before we knew his fate. And, as we knew it would be, it was positive. He, too, was prescribed antibiotics. Amazingly, in the short time span we were given to get the drugs on a Friday before closing time, we got his meds in a matter of 13 minutes. Whew!
I was hopeful for the weekend. I was hopeful we would turn the corner. I was also feeling pretty good about this switch to this new clinic, too.
But, over the weekend, my daughter was not getting better. Her coughing fits continued, her need for her inhaler continued mightily, and her congestion and sore throat never ceased. After a few days on the antibiotic, we expected her to be much better off. Meanwhile, my son perked up right away with his meds, but she… floundered. Her throat still hurting. Her cough keeping her up at night. She was not getting better.
Almost seemingly as if on cue did my three other littles start coughing, too. And poor Baby V has had once heck of a year so far. She began with a slight cough, then the stomach bug, then a sty in her eye, then a weird “bite” on her hand that is clearly not a bite because it’s growing as the blisters rupture (almost like poison ivy), all with slight diarrhea from the aftermath of her stomach bug. Oh, and at one point, she tripped and bit her tongue, too, leaving a little boo-boo on her tongue tip that made it hard for her to eat for 24-48 hours. She was a freakin’ TRAIN WRECK of doom, and whiny to boot. So much for her turned corner, we reverted right back to needy, all-over-mom-all-day-every-day V.
This brings us to Monday, February 3rd. First thing 7am, I’m up and calling to schedule an appointment, only as soon as I get on the phone does the baby wake up needing me and the boob, so I had to hand the phone off to hubs. He left the room and quietly scheduled the appointments for our four kids, including a re-check for Baby Sis, but when he returns, the times are odd. He thinks he had a couple times screwed up. “They’re one after the next – 2:05pm, 2:20pm, 3:05pm, 3:20pm.”
“Um, I must have that wrong. They’re one after the next.”
Only, apparently, they weren’t. We checked in. The lady at the front met us with many smiles and jokes, but didn’t say a word about their appointment times. Usually, how this all works, when they see we’re all part of the same family and being seen is.. they bring us all in at once to get all our vitals at once, all our medicine histories at once, and then see our kids one-after-the-next all at once. Today, though, a man came out, called only my daughter’s name, and never turned the corner to find us in the waiting room.
I was grabbing our stuff that always undoubtedly gets spread all over the place, trying to get it together to go back with him, he was calling us to be seen. He called a second time, louder, angrier, again never turning the corner to see we were trying to come. “Coming!!” I replied hurriedly, ushering my daughter to move quicker. My husband would remain with the other kids in the lobby since they were only calling her.
“Hi,” I smiled, “You’re only calling her, but I have four kids being seen…” I began, but didn’t get to finish.
“Ma’am, I have ONE name listed here,” he interrupted.
“I know, I’m just saying, do you want them all… ”
“I’m only ONE man, and I’ve only got ONE name here.”
Wow. Okay then.
It was at this time I instructed my daughter to give my husband the “snack bag” so he could give the kids snacks if they wanted it. I was also ushered out the way by another nurse who needed to get by, and met with an audible sigh by the male nurse for him having to wait for my daughter and for my being in the way while waiting. I should’ve known this wasn’t going to get any better.
We walked back behind the locked doors into the hallway that leads to the exam rooms. He sternly directed us to where we needed to go. I handed him the paperwork I needed to hand him upon check-in, ones that included the current medicines the kids are taking. I had all the children’s, but I only handed him hers.
He immediately checked the roster of appointments for the rest of the afternoon, and I confirmed with him the names of the three other children. “Normally, when we’re all being seen like this, the nurses get all their info at once, to save time.” I said.
“Well, that’s not how we do it here,” he snapped.
“Sir, I was just here with her last Wednesday, and that is how you guys did it. This isn’t my first rodeo…” and before I could finish to explain myself and my family and how we’re not normally sick, but once-in-a-while when one sickness will snap all of us up, he strictly reiterated that’s not their policy.
It was then he confirmed for me that Super M was indeed right after her, but that there were two appointments after that, THEN my remaining two children were to be seen. Ugh, I thought to myself, we’re going to be here all friggin’ day AGAIN.
But I kept it cool, and didn’t say anything since everything I said seemingly pissed him off for whatever reason. But, oddly, he announced to me that he could go get my son so we could check them in together (y’know, right after he said that “isn’t their policy to do so”). Whatever, I thought to myself. “Okay.” I said out loud.
I bit my lip. I texted to my husband that this guy was being a jerk, and that the kids’ appointments were not one after the next. In walked the nurse with my son moments later, joking with him, shuffling at his hair. My son smiled. At least he isn’t treating them like crap. I smiled, too. I asked if they’d gotten the papers from my husband about his medications. “No,” was the response the nurse gave to me, immediately reverting back to the mean man I’d come to know.
“Oh, well, that’s okay, you can just refer to her medicines, they’re on practically the same ones anyway….”
“That’s not needed,” he said again.
“I… huh?” I didn’t understand.
“One patient at a time,” he instructed like a drill sergeant, dismissing me.
The kids took their jackets and shoes off, and Baby Sis was first to set foot on the scale. He brought over his papers with him, and, while she stepped on the scale and it let off the finishing ‘beep,’ I asked if he could tell me if she’d lost weight since Wednesday, because I was concerned because her throat’s hurt her so much, and her stomach’s been agitated because of all the coughing, that I was concerned she wasn’t eating enough. He cut me off, again. He smiled at me, but he smiled in a sarcastic, “I hate you” kind of way when he replied, “No.”
I was flabbergasted. He let me stew in it for a few seconds before finishing his response, waving the papers at me when he said, “I don’t have that information, (pointing to the computer) but that computer over there (said dramatically and sarcastically) has that information on it, but, as you can see, I’m not there at it right now.”
Holy sh!t! I mean, seriously? What the hell had I done to this guy to wrong him in such a way to be treated like this? The tears were starting in the back of my eyes. My face grew hot, and my cheeks were undoubtedly red. I felt my heart burning while pulsating inside of me so quickly, so angrily, I fought back tears as I texted to my husband I wanted another nurse, or to never see this doctor again so we’d never see this nurse again.
He entered in their stats and numbers while I held back my tears and anguish while my mind wandered. It had been three weeks since doing anything but school pick up and doctors’ appointments. I had been sick, the kids have been sick since. It’s been a nightmare of laundry and cleaning and boogers and puke, and I haven’t worked out in weeks, I haven’t eaten well, I don’t feel well myself (feeling my throat hurting, too), and with all the sleep deprivation, constant sick kids clinging on me, the toll it’s undoubtedly taken on me, apparently it was too much to ask for a little decency when being seen at the doctors.
Instead of taking my information at face value, he went through each of my daughter’s updated prescription and over-the-counter meds one-by-one anyway, circling and Xing and being derogatory because I listed once twice (forgetting they’d prescribed it when we’d only just opened her prescribed bottle earlier that morning, we were finishing up the store-bought bottle first). When he went to ask me about my son’s medicines, I told him that they were “practically on the same medicines, he could refer to her list, their protocols were the same.”
“I’m sorry, that’s not our protocol.” He remarked, snidely.
My lip quivered. “N-n-not your protocol, sir,” I stuttered, “their asthma and allergy protocols. They’re practically the same.”
And, again, before I could finish explaining that all three of my allergy/asthma kids were all on the same medicines with different age/weight appropriate dosages, he again snapped back that he “could not do that” even though it only made HIS job easier.
So I snapped. I couldn’t hold it back. I had HAD ENOUGH. “Are you going to be the nurse for ALL of my children, because I’d like a new one.”
I didn’t say it meanly, in fact, because I’m surprised I made any noise other than wails out of my mouth. My kids saw me visibly shaken, my eyes were red, tear-filled, face reddened, mouth quivering uncontrollably. “Fine.”
He stormed out. He left us there for fifteen, maybe twenty minutes. I furiously texted my husband to say something to somebody. The kids asked me if I was alright, and I responded, “No,” in barely a whisper.
“What’s wrong? What happened?”
“He was just a jerk to mommy, you guys. It’ll be okay.”
But it wasn’t okay. This dog-tired mother of all these sick kids just NEEDED A FRIGGING BREAK. We needed to get to the bottom of this God-forsaken cough because NOTHING WAS WORKING, and it was SPREADING LIKE WILDFIRE. I just wanted help, that was it! Just a little help, that’s all. I wasn’t being rude, or curt, or aggravated, although inside I was weak and fried and out of options and slightly irrationally desperate for answers.
Soon, the door opened, my husband walked in with this nurse, and he ushered us across the hall to our new room with our new nurse. The kids shuffled over without shoes as we all puzzle-pieced into this tiny room with four kids and two parents while he instructed the new nurse that he had to make changes before she could log into our family’s folders. The nurses left to consult with one another, and the second that door closed I sh!t you not, I exploded. Hard. It was ugly and loud and it made my throat even more angry to wail but OHMYGODDDD I couldn’t stop weeping into my husband’s Army uniform.
The whole office heard me. He was across the hall, and I hoped he heard every last gulp of air in between sobs. That S.O.B. needs to know what he did and his behavior was INEXCUSABLE and UNACCEPTABLE.
Medical staff, please understand that the tired, sleep-deprived moms and dads you meet might need just as much coddling as their sick children do. I’m sure many of you have come across some rude parents some days, and I’m sure there are a lot of insufferably rude people out there that are just always like that without reason. But that wasn’t me. In fact, I’ll flash a smile to just about anyone, even in my most miserable days, and I did that day, even for him (at first). Despite my tiredness, my loneliness, and homebound-driven agony, my germ-filled frumpy clothes, two-day-old-since-last-washed hair slicked back into a side braid, and patchy, quick wash job on my pits that’ll have to suffice as a “shower,” he didn’t have to disrespect me and treat me as horribly and rudely as he did.
The diagnosis (as expected) – the three children all join their sister and oldest brother with strep, and are all now on azithromycin. The doctor has also prescribed azithromycin for my daughter, too, on top of her Penicillin, so we can “kill it good” since she isn’t responding well with the Penicillin after five days. With a slew of other remedies in hand, we hope to have a handle on it (finally) this week. My strep swabs, however, will culture and come back some time on Wednesday. I type this as I sip some throat-soothing tea, because when I’m not sipping something, my throat gets more pricklier and angry by the second.
The second nurse, by the way, was great – if, perhaps, a little too overly thorough. (It took her over an hour to intake the four kids’ medicines, history, and measurements in the system.) The doctor himself was absolutely fantastic, and I wanted to hug him profusely and thank him from the bottom of my soul for treating me with dignity. He actually listened to us, and I almost burst out crying during our conversations about my children during the appointment. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I love these kids more than any one person can imagine, and it is SO HARD to keep going through this mind-numbingly awful appointments to help them when we’ve suffered so greatly until then. God knows I’m trying so hard with all that we do to keep them healthy. They’re normally pretty good, healthy kids (despite asthma and allergies and the occasional strep virus kicking our tails).
Some day in the future, I know I will look back and long for these days when my kids were small, and ache and yearn to go back and live it all again. But then I’ll be reminded of these sick days that involved these God-awful appointments, and… nope. Nuh uh. Screw that. I will not miss the sickies, the rude staff, and the barrage of laundry cycles from the pukes. No way, man. No way.
Monday sucked. January sucked. Tuesday and February, please oh please, be kinder to me.