Thursday, August 21, 2008

Well You Know That Didn't Work

I forgot about getting the disk with my skeletal survey (a series of X-rays) from Dr. Hochstin's office until it was literally time to go to the train station. Nic was walking behind me to her car when I remembered. I briefly considered going without them and quickly discarded that idea. What was the point of going if I wasn't going to do it right? So instead I told Nic to nevermind (actually I said fuck it, don't tell my mother) I'd go get the stupid X-Rays and drive in. I had plenty of time, it was noon and the appointment was at 1430.

On to Boston. Traffic wasn't bad, but I started to think about the ride home. My car does this thing when it's in stop and go traffic. The transmission misbehaves as the motor heats up. So I decide to get off in Weymouth and trade cars with Jen. She was out to lunch but we were able to make the trade in plenty of time. I get to NEMC and there is regular garage parking and valet. You know how lazy I am. I pick valet. The attendant cautions me that they close at 4 pm. I tell him not to worry, my appointment is in 20 minutes and there will be nothing said that I want to hear for over an hour.

I had called ahead to register and I was told to pick up my "blue card" on the fourth floor. I go to the fourth's Plastic Surgery. No Patient Registration. So I go to the 8th floor, where Dr. Miller's clinic is. I'm early enough to get better directions, get the card and be back on time. I exit the elevator, both sides say oncology, I turn left. Probably because I am left handed and almost always turn that way when there is a choice.

There are two young ladies sitting behind two windows, both of which are open. One window is occupied, so I step up to the other. "She'll take care of you in a minute." No apology, no explanation. I bite back a sarcastic suggestion that she close her window or put up a sign. I realize that my current predicament has made Princess Crabby.....crabbier....

Ok, I get behind the blue line on the floor as the sign on the wall suggests. This is to respect the privacy of the patient currently at the window. The current patient has an absolutely adorable perfectly chubby baby in a carriage. I smile at the baby and my blood pressure drops.

They finish and move away.

I wait to be called.

And I wait.

A lengthy conversation commences between the two girls regarding lunch. Miss "I'm too stupid to close my window" suggests that Miss "I will sit here ignorantly and ignore the only patient in shouting distance" go have lunch. Miss Ignorance exclaims "You haven't aten (spelling?) lunch?" Miss Stupid lets her misspeak two more times before correcting her, "eaten". This sets off an exchange about Miss Ignorance saying that Miss Stupid should not make her feel bad just because Miss Stupid has a college degree.

Yesssssssss. Because it takes a college degree to correctly pronounce "eaten". My blood pressure is rising. Where is that baby?

Finally, Miss Ignorance deigns to address me. I step past the blue confidentiality line and state my name and my appointment time. Miss Ignorance speaks over me and asks for my blue card. I begin to explain why I do not have it. Big sigh.

Due to a reserve of restraint I did not know I possessed, I refrain from making physical contact.

"Pardon me. As I was saying, I am early for my appointment because I know I have to go get the card. However, I was told to go to the fourth floor and that is plastic surgery. If you care to direct me to the correct location I will go get the card and be back in plenty of time."

Miss Ignorance has opened her desk drawer and there are a multitude of blank blue and red cards. She begins to finger them. "Oh, ok, well I will get you a card. You can just go over to the other side, that's where Dr. Miller's patients are seen. I will bring it over to you."

"Thank you."

I go and wait. This is clearly a more patient friendly operation. I was sitting for no more than five minutes before someone came over to inquire if I was being taken care of.

Fifteen minutes later Miss Ignorance showed up empty handed. She could not complete the required task.

Ignorant and ineffective.


However, she was smart enough to hand me over to Barbara, on Dr. Miller's staff. Barbara made one 30 second phone call, directed me to the first floor and I had a card in less than five minutes. there you go. That was all I needed. I just needed someone to explain that I wanted the first, not the fourth floor.

So there was blood work, and other vitals, a short interview with Dr. Miller's Fellow, Alex. Each staff member was pleasant and professional. I did have to dash out and retrieve the car from valet and move it to the parking garage since the appointment did run well over 1600.

Dr. Miller himself was very pleasant. He repeated most of the questions from the interview with the Fellow. I felt he was waiting for something from me. Alex, the Fellow had described me as knowledgeable about my situation and Dr. Miller threw out some technical terms to test me.

He asked me if I felt well. I get this a lot. Apparently it is unusual to be at this stage and be asymptomatic. Then he asked "Would you see a doctor?" I thought that was oddly phrased and interpreted it to mean "Do you have any complaint at all for which you would see a doctor?" So I replied "No, and I don't want to see you." He laughed and asked what I meant. I told him that I didn't want to be there, I wanted to be at the beach. That I was there out of guilt and shame. That if it were strictly up to me, I would ignore this until I was forced to deal with it. But I can't because of my family and friends.

He asked what beach. I was startled and told him my own. He laughed again and said he thought I might mean Hawaii which he considered to be paradise with working toilets. Clearly he's never been to Dubai. So I told him no, I meant my own beach. I am a New England girl.

For the physical exam he brought nurse practitioner into the room. He explained that he brought in another woman so I would not feel outnumbered. I told him that was very considerate, but I am never outnumbered.

We discussed treatment options. He told me repeatedly that I had many options......I am young and healthy, doncha know. Anyway, one pleasant surprise, the two drugs he wants to start me off on should not cause me discomfort. I should tolerate them well and they should interfere with my life. There will be an increased risk of blood clots, so he would want me to be careful should I change my mind and head to Hawaii. I told him that I was going to Vegas and he said I'd have to be careful and get up and walk around a lot.

Dr. Miller also cautioned me about the mood swings I would experience. I told him no one would notice if Princess Crabby got nastier.

Dr. Miller is also keen on the bone marrow transplant. He said we would be discussing it when I reach a plateau with the drug cocktail. Probably in about six months.

He knows I am meeting with another doctor at Dana Farber before I make my decision.

He asked me to meet with bone marrow transplant coordinator. She was very nice and I learned that I would only be in the hospital for 3 weeks, not the six I thought. But I would not go back to work for two months after still three months out of work, they just slice it up a little differently.

I would go in as an outpatient and receive a whole day of chemo, three strong doses. then return a week later for the bone marrow harvest which they would freeze "over there" and she indicated a building across the street. Then I would go in a week later for a "big blast of chemo" and they would give it back.


I left there at 1708..........and after all that......they didn't take the stupid CD of X-rays. When I offered the disc to Alex........he looked at it, took it out of it's case, turned it over, put it back in the case and handed it back.

Story of my life.


Barb said...

I told him no one would notice if Princess Crabby got nastier.

Heh - we might notice. But we would NEVER mention it ;-)

So we need to make you walk around the room every hour in Vegas, eh? Good to know.

Stella said...

That hospital mess resonates with me. Oh, jeez. However, your retelling had me laughing out loud in front of the computer. You're inspiring me to tell stories again.

Due to a reserve of restraint I did not know I possessed, I refrain from making physical contact. Oh, I wish I'd written that about myself. That line is absolutely poetic.

Well, I have aten and need to part company with my computer. Please keep us updated, Maggie. And take care. I'm sending a lot of good thoughts and best wishes to Princess Crabby and Maggy.

Army Wife said...

ok ok....I read this other night...immediate thought


I must go through your archives now and dig into this...

Miss gorgeous Maggie...praying for you