Monday, January 07, 2008

If It's Not One Thing It's......

There is nothing healthy about our health system. It is anything but. I should know. I have seen more than I ever wished to of clinic waiting rooms with the same well thumbed and smudged copies of magazines filling us in on the fascinating lives of the stars, laboratories where you are punched full of holes, x-ray chambers with humming donuts that give you a year's worth of radiation in thirty seconds, hospital beds where everything is coated in plastic so you sweat all the time and the beds are impossible to find comfort in, cafeterias full of unhealthy cardboard food, and insurance and billing bureaucracies where one erroneous keystroke lives on far longer than you will and generates mistaken financial records month after month requiring unending phone calls to anonymous voices on the other end of the phone line who promise fixes that never seem to come. How did we come to such a mess of a place and why do we put up with it?

Today I went in for one of my periodic CT-scans which requires me to start drinking contrast four hours prior to the scan. This stuff comes in plastic jugs with cute names like "banana" or "berry" when really it should be labeled "pukey chalk tasting sludge." I live far enough away from the imaging center so that I have to drink my third dose in the car, forcing it down while watching out for lane fading commuters with cell phones pasted to their ears. Today I was lucky and got to the place with time to spare, which, as it turns out, was good because I was greeted at the desk by a perky nurse type who informed me that their scanner was acting up and I would have to get back in my car and travel a couple of miles to the nearest hospital where I was expected in the "vascular and heart CT-scan" department. Shit, now I'd have to pay for parking.

Off I go and in time arrive to a full parking ramp. After circling a couple of times, I nailed a spot and headed into the hospital. After being challenged at a couple of checkpoints and having to verify my reason for being there, I arrived at the checking desk where I was asked once again to provide the same information I give every time I go (it's on the f*****ing computer, why do I need to give it every single time?) and oh, by the way, can we see your insurance card please? There is a little problem.

Did I mention that the contrast gives you diarrhea? I had to make an instant decision on weather to surrender my card, or run for the can. This was solved by flinging the insurance card at the clerk as I turned and sprinted for the men's room.

Somewhat later and lighter, I returned to the desk and inquired after my insurance card and was told that they were "working on it." What is to work on? I am in one branch or office of this medical complex at least once a month and get innumerable mailings from both the provider of services and the insurance company on a regular basis so that I know that I am in their system. True, most have at least one error on them requiring phone calls and sometimes backup letters of a threatening nature to correct the problem. Why am I suddenly a mystery to them.

While pondering this paradox, I am called back to the CT-scan room where the nurse proceeds to drill two dry holes before finally striking oil after switching to the other, less withered arm, all the time muttering something about how she couldn't understand it, been doing this for nine years, never had such a hard time. She should have been on my end of it. It feels like they are shoving the Alaska pipeline into the hole they drill into your arm.

This is all so that they can inject yet another form of contrast into you that makes you all hot in various parts of your body (and not in a fun way either). Then a robot voice tells you to take a breath and hold it as the bed slides slowly through the radiation donut and you are photographed in microscopic slices in a way that would embarrass the most paparazzi-phobic star in the mags. Did I talk about the diarrhea yet? It's still going on.

After retrieving my insurance card and being assured that all the problems were resolved (yeah, right), and visiting several more bathrooms on my way out, I found my car and paid my bail, I headed back to the clinic (across the street from the place with the busted scanner) to get some blood drawn and tested. I am scheduled for a chemo treatment on Wednesday (yea, six hours on a plastic covered bed), but my blood counts were pretty low last time so this month we'll look at them in advance. More magazines in the waiting room.

Actually, let me stop here for a second and say that even though I am going off on this rant about the injustices of the medical system, I am ever grateful for what I do have. I didn't have to look far in that waiting room to see folks who were having it harder than me. Much harder.

The part that makes me angry is that we seem to be incapable of fixing a system that is clearly broken. You have heard it all before I suspect. About how we pay at least twice as much as the next most expensive country for health care and that ours much is less effective. What's up with that? We used to take pride in what our country did and now we are like sheep who move along with our noses pressed into the backside of the sheep in front of us and don't complain. Well, I am tired of it.

OK, rant over.

I guess that I am feeling the effects of too much health care. I feel sick.


Blogger lime said...

oh i completely agree with you on every single point you make here. i also understand it doesn't mean you are lacking in gratitude for the care and treatment you have received. it's just that when fighting for health it would be ever so refreshing not to fight the system very damn step of the way.

our ins co reorganized itself 'so they could more efficently serve the needs of patients.' i am sure you can use your imagination to correctly interpret that as 'we will completely f*ck up every aspect of your (and every other client's) coverage for the foreseeable future to the extent that every time you hand your card over the person receiving it will groan knowing the hell that we all will have to endure to sort through the inextricable tangle of bureaucracy.'....aka....bend over but sorry we are out of lube.

hoping all the results of the various tests are favorable and this round of chemo doesn't wear you out as terribly as other recent rounds.

5:22 PM, January 07, 2008  
Blogger Cheesy said...

P~~ My clinic let me bring my own blankie with me to lay on... helps with the sweats and they dont have to be responsible for cleaning it... may want to ask hun....

12:08 AM, January 08, 2008  

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