Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bedside Manners, Or Lack Thereof

This morning was my post-op visit with Dr. N, to have my stitches removed and to confirm that, yes, indeed, I am healing properly and my leg has not fallen off or exploded or anything. I had to take Addy with me, and we started off in a fine mood. The day was pretty, Addy was being cooperative, and I managed to shower and shave my legs without injuring myself or becoming unduly tired! So we got in there, were ushered from the giant main waiting room through a labyrinth of hallways into a smaller waiting room, and things went downhill from there.
At first, Addy was content to climb up into the chairs and then exult with pride over her accomplishment. Then, apparently, chair climbing grew boring. I spotted a milk crate of toys off in a corner for her (the crate looked a wee bit out of place in this massive, multi-million dollar medical facility, complete with elaborate modern art pieces dangling from the vaulted ceilings. They couldn't spring for a toy box?) The toys inside were no better- junky garage sale crap with missing pieces, and none too clean, either. They kept her occupied for awhile, though, but after an hour of sitting there, we were both getting pretty darn bored. And I was feeling pretty darn sleepy, too, as the waiting room was overly warm.
Finally, they called us in, upon which we were ushered to a freezing exam room and told that "He'll be right in." Half hour later, after exhausting every game I could think of and finally allowing Addy to chew on the good doctor's pens to keep her busy, the man himself showed up.
He was completely strung out and jittery from something- my guess would be caffeine, or stress. Or, you know, maybe coke. He was seriously antsy, jiggling his leg and getting up and down out of his swivel chair. He seemed to be talking to himself the whole time. The five minutes I actually saw him went something like this:
Dr. N, loudly: "So, everything went well! The knee looks good. The baby's good, fine. You're doing well. No undue pain or swelling." None of these were delivered in question form.
Me, hesitantly: "Um, no? Nothing undue, I guess."
Dr. N: "Now, you saw those pictures of the arthroscopy, of course. We removed a big chunk of broken kneecap. You just can't have this popping out again or you'll ruin your kneecap. I think you need knee reconstruction. So we need to get you in here again later for further surgery, that's just all there is to it. But we'll deal with that later." Stares off into the distance. Then, jumping up suddenly: "All right! Now we need to..." Trails off, apparently switching to a secret, silent language, then resumes aloud: "...Just up on the bed here."
Me: Staring in confusion while trying to keep Addy from tearing apart my wallet.
Dr. N: "Or maybe in the chair, if you're more comfortable." Sits down again and vigorously pats chair opposite himself to identify it as a sound and excellent seating choice.
Me: Sitting down, extending knee for what I presume to be a forthcoming examination.
Dr. N: Abruptly grasps end of stitches, snips, and pulls. Repeats process on other two incisions without warning. Asks Adelay, "Is this hurting your mommy?"
Me: Pause. "Um, no."
Dr. N, heartily: "No! Of course not! These women who have babies, they're tough! They can put up with anything!" Hearty chuckle follows. Stands up again. "Okay, well, do you need anything else from me?"
Me: Staring in bewilderment. "Well, um, I need to have a different brace fitted, since the last one didn't fit? And... Do I need to do physical therapy or anything?"
Dr. N: "Well, no, your surgical recovery is fine." Stares back, equally bewildered.
Me: "Yes, I know, but you just said it would be very bad if my knee popped out again. So since I can't do any sort of reconstruction or anything for quite a while with the baby and all, should I at least try to strengthen the muscles in my leg to prevent it from popping out?"
Dr. N: "Oh, well, I suppose that's a thought, yes. Okay, we'll get you set up with something." Hastily scribbles a prescription, then bustles out the door, not to be seen again.
Five minutes later, a nurse comes in and leads Addy and I down another crazy corridor, back to the hospital equipment office where I have a second encounter with The Devil Lady who fitted me with my first brace two weeks ago. The one that DIDN'T FIT. She attempts to wrestle several equally ill-fitting braces over my white, chubby thighs, before sighing and heaving and wiping her brow as though she had been freakin' wrangling a bear. "I give up!" she announces to her coworker, who promptly takes over.
The other lady got the same exact brace the first one had been struggling with up over my knee in one smooth motion. Then she helped me find the physical therapy department, which, whatdya know, was down yet another crazy hallway. I waited in line there for about twenty minutes to get my appointment set up, while trying fruitlessly to keep Addy from finding and throwing every single brightly colored exercise ball in the whole enormous room.
When I finally emerged from the maze out into the sunshine of the parking lot, I was never so happy to escape a place in my life. I was faint with hunger, Addy was crazy from being pent up, and I was wearing an enormous contraption over my leg which is going to allow me to wear only shorts the rest of the summer. Just so you know, shorts and I are not the best of friends, so this is going to be a bit of an issue.
I was so hungry by the time we left that I felt a little woozy while I was driving back to town. I was meeting my mom and sister for lunch, and called to alert my mom that if she got there first, she should tell them to send out the cheddar biscuits, pronto. I arrived just as the waiter set down a basket of warm rolls, which I pretty much singlehandedly devoured. Come to think of it, the basket may be missing, too.
I am now so full I feel like rolling myself into the bed for a nap. But I have to wait a minute, or the heartburn will attack. Ah, pregnancy. Maybe I'll have an ice cream bar while I wait...


Swistle said...

That is SO CRAZY. I vote coke. Seriously, that was nuts! I was laughing hard, but I was also wide-eyed and shaking my head and feeling my heart pound at the idea of having to entertain a toddler through all those waits.

Jess said...

Hahaha....crazy doctors! This is why I do not trust the medical field at all. You have to be an informed patient and demand attention. Just think, if you were content to just let the doctor do his thing and send you on your way, you would not be getting your therapy or a proper brace. Grrrr.......they make me so mad. I think Dr. N. and my GI doc went to school together or something!!

Cheddar biscuits. Did you go to Red Lobster? Dang.....must have Lobster Rolls now!!

jen said...

wow, that was pretty crappy for you. I can only imagine. I remember waiting for an hour once in the exam room. My daughter just completely fell asleep (thank god!) and just as I was about to get up and inquire as to whether anyone remembered I was in here (it was lunchtime) the dr came in.. brushing crumbs off his jacket. I know you gotta eat.. but don't schedule crap for lunchtime mmkay?

But yeah that was pretty shitty of him, I HATE drs like that, sadly I know exactly what you're talking about, where they are quick and dismissive and you do all of the suggesting and prodding to get what you need. ugh.