Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Medical Receptionist Appointment Bazaar


In all my waxing nostalgic about Illinois road-trips and 80's indie rock, I forgot to mention one important update: yesterday, I got an appointment with another surgeon to give me a second opinion. (Actually, considering that I have yet to hear from Dr. ___, I guess it's actually a first opinion). When I called, the receptionist told me that I would have to wait until Nov. 23rd. Luckily, however, my appointment-making skills have been hardened in the crucible of Dr. ___'s secretary, who graduated with high honours from the School of Pissed-Off Medical Receptionist-ry with a degree in Patient Avoidance and/or Intolerance and a minor in Advanced Eye Rolling. I persisted, stressed the urgency of the situation, pulled the whole "Dr. SecondOpinion has already been informed of my case," and presto: my new appointment date is Nov. 4th.

I'm beginning to believe that booking an appointment with a medical professional has reverted to the barter system and now resembles a Turkish bazaar (without the "Hey! Pretty Lady! Hey! Canada! What is the mistake in your body?" business). Perhaps receptionists are trained not to give you the first appointment, but to make you barter with them to insure that you're sick/hurt/desperate enough to really want it. It's only a matter of time before appointments start going like this:

Receptionist: I can fit you in in three month's time. It's my very best deal for a pretty cancer patient such as yourself.
Patient: Three months? You insult me. Two weeks!
Receptionist: Two weeks! I worked long and hard setting up this appointment, writing your name down in the book and highlighting it in yellow marker! Two weeks is an insult! For a loyal patient such as yourself, what about two months?
Patient: Two months? For an appointment without current magazines in the waiting room? Hah! The doctor down the road can get me in in one month and he has a subscription to "People." Three weeks!
Receptionist: Three weeks! I have children to feed! What would people say if they knew I'd given you an appointment in three weeks! Six weeks. That's the best I can do.
Patient: Will you throw in a quick MRI appointment?
Receptionist: For you, my most valued and attractive patient, I think I can make this deal. But do not tell anyone that I got you in in six weeks and threw in a quick MRI appointment. I will be bankrupt in a week and my children will starve.

While I'm glad that I won't have to wait until the end of November to get an appointment, the Nov 4th date puts a damper on my plans to return to Illinois to see a Neko Case concert on Nov 6th. This Neko Case concert is not just any Neko Case concert. My friend Tiff knows the guitarist and had gotten us VIP access, which means that I might have been able to hang out with Neko Case, who clearly would have been charmed by my dry Canadian wit and Ricky-Lake-on-Stilts good looks and invited me to tour with them as their head tambourine player. (The fact that none of Neko Case's songs have tambourines...and that I have no sense of rhythm does not deter me in the slightest).

Considering that I've been wearing my cranky pants quite often these days, it really helps to have something to look forward to. Shortly after the surgery, when I couldn't walk at all, A. would make plans with me to go on a 10-day canoeing trip next summer in the Great Lakes area and, when I was feeling particularly feeble and shitty, I would imagine myself all healthy and able to walk, tromping through the wilderness and portaging my canoe like I was one of the early explorers (minus the beaver-pelt undies and destruction of Native peoples). It made me feel quite a lot better. When Tiff told me about the Neko Case concert, that became the thing I would look forward to. I would say, "Well, it sucks that I'm getting an electrified needle jammed into my ass now, but just think: in a few months I will see Neko Case in concert and if I'm lucky she will play 'At Last' off "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.'"

But now, damn. Barring a last-minute flight, instead of going to the concert I will be weighing my medical options while sitting in bed listening to "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood." Now I need something else to look forward to: ideas?

1 comment:

  1. You can look forward to a time when you are being hailed as a brilliant novelist and Neko Case is saying, "damn, I almost got to meet her once".

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