Not Quite Right

First thing yesterday morning, I called the orthopaedic specialist’s office to make sure that Gideon would be seen the same day.  They had an appointment open at 4:30 and I took it.  The receptionist was far from pleasant, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt.  It was Monday morning, after all.

Not long after setting up the appointment, she called back and told me that the doctor wanted to schedule the appointment for earlier and wondered if 3:15 would work.  Fine with me.  We are flexible and moving the appointment up meant that Poppy could come along for moral support and distraction.

Arriving at 3:01 (the need to be compulsively early dies hard), I filled out the many sheets of paperwork while Gideon and Poppy explored the waiting room. We waited for quite a while, far beyond the time their sign suggested before asking about being seen.  The sign said “If you have waited for more than 15 minutes, please contact the receptionist to make sure that you’ve been properly checked in”. A person who checked in after us had already been seen, and thus I figured I wasn’t being ridiculous. So, off I went to the receptionist.  When she walked over to me and I mentioned the sign, she cut me off and told me that I would have to speak with the medical staff about it at another window.  Not what the sign suggested, but okay. 

I went to the other window, where my question was met with contempt.  “We only have two casting rooms and you’re going to have to wait until they’re cleared first.”  Hey, nasty lady, it’s YOUR SIGN. I’m just trying to make sure I’m not lost in the system as YOUR SIGN suggested.

As hour crept toward my original appointment time, a man in a plaid shirt and brown pants came out from the exam area, pointed at Gideon and asked “Is that coming off today?” 

I could’ve responded in a number of ways, at the top of my list being “I’m sorry. Who are you, exactly?”  But I kept myself in check and told the plaid shirt man that I didn’t know what was going to happen.  Maybe?  Yes?  No?  I didn’t include the thought that ran through my head which was “I’m actually not a medical professional, although I play one from time to time.” He asked a few more diagnostic-y questions about Gideon, all while the fellow patients and their families watched and listened.  Then he disappeared.

I shrugged and recognized that I had entered some kind of bizarro healthcare world. 

Finally, Gideon’s name was called and we were ushered into a room that hadn’t been updated since the cold war ended. Flashbacks to the German hospital where I had my CF test occurred.  I kept feeding Gideon Cheez-its and offered him some water. 

In came a very pregnant PA with a nice white coat and a namebadge.  I recognized her name from the card we’d received from the hospital and relaxed when she told us that the doctor would be right in.  She seemed competent and fairly cordial.  As she started to speak, the man in the plaid shirt walked through a curtain and began preparing casting materials while telling my dad to sit down with Gideon on the exam table. The PA started cutting off the temporary soft cast. From my incredible deductive abilities, I gathered this man was the doctor, although I never received any confirmation of that fact (on second thought an assitant may have called him ‘doctor’ at one point.  Maybe).  There were no bedside formalities, no basic information gathered, no real concern shown for the patient.  Just the overwhelming need to move another project through the process. 

While they were still preparing the materials, I asked about a water proof cast (after someone who works in the healthcare field suggested I look into it) and he promptly and smugly said “Those don’t exsist.” 

Feeling the blood begin to boil in my veins, I started in “That’s funny,” I bit back, “because I have….”

The PA cut in just then and said that they don’t think they work as well and that since his cast is going all the way to his elbow, it wouldn’t be good for water to collect at the elbow. I saw her point.  I don’t want his skin to be irritated and chafed. But I am also not an idiot and I do not appreciate the man in the plaid shirt lauding his own personal opinions over my semi-informed questions.  I suppose explaining the care you provide isn’t a part of his daily routine.

The PA was called out of the room suddenly for an emergency consult, the details of which we were able to overhear.  Now we were alone with the proud man in plaid as he wrapped gauze around my son’s tiny arm.  I wasn’t feeling especially confident about it, but I was very glad my dad was there to hold Gideon during the whole process.  I was even more glad when I realized that the doctor was not going to drape anything over my father’s lap or Gideon’s body to keep the casting materials from touching them.

About this time Smoky McSmokertin assistant came in and started helping.  I asked her if the toys on the side counter were there for distraction and if I could get them.  She said yes.  I was trying to convince Gideon to be interested in the rain stick when he took it out of my hand and whacked the lady in the forehead. She made a comment to the doctor about him needing to find someone else to continue for her, as if my 14 month old was actually a 14 year old who’d punched her in the mouth.  Oh Puhleez.

During the struggle, I was wondering why they hadn’t properly restrained my child in order to make sure that his arm was in the proper position for casting and to avoid the all out battle. I started thinking about the story my mother tells where the military docs asked her to hold my brother’s head still while they stitched a laceration above his eye.  Perhaps papoosing would have been the proper course of action in both cases.  Especially since Gideon’s squirming led to him touching his forehead to the cast and a giant blue pattern was mashed onto his forehead.  “Don’t worry, it will go away in about a week when the skin sloughs off.”  Great.  Thank you.

[You can sort of see the blue in this picture, although the flash washes it out quite a bit.]

Finally casted and ready to head home, we walked out to make the appointment for three weeks from then.  That’s when we got to observe even greater rudeness and insensitivity as a woman was coming in whose son needed  a wheelchair.  Instead of helping her get a wheelchair she was told to go through that door and look around and you’ll see one. Hesitantly proceeding, she was annoyingly encouraged to look faster and more thoroughly. Then, when going out of the door, she was forced to manage the non-automatic doors with the wheelchair by herself, while the medical staff and receptionists did nothing to assist her.

We go back in three weeks for them to remove the cast.  I’m assuming that someone there reviewed my child’s xrays and confirmed that all of the soft tissue is fine.  I’m assuming that they will papoose him to remove the cast.  I’m assuming that they will charge me plenty of money for such an experience.  I hope they are assuming to hear from me in writing after his care is complete.  Until then, I don’t want anyone taking out their frustrations on my child.  But once he’s healed, I’m going to enjoy writing that letter.

No worries, Mom.  I’ll be back to tennis before you know it!

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  1. that’s infuriating.

    • Zan
    • July 15th, 2008

    Ah man…I think Uncle Wally needs to come up there & teach Gideon some UFC or WWF moves so he can use his cool new cast to lay the smack down on the plaid shirt at your next appointment. We’re good influences like that.

    • Kit and Luke
    • July 17th, 2008

    wow, yeah, you should definately write a letter about their poor service. I can’t believe they were so rude and unprofessional (even childish), and also didn’t help the people who needed the wheelchair! I’d be starting my letter right away! It infuriates me too when plaid shirted guys posing as “medical professionals” act like they know everything and treat patients like we’re stupid.

    And btw, I’ve always ignored those “if you’ve waiting more than 15 minutes” signs. I always have to wait, I think it’s just me. I used to go to one practice while I was preg with #2, and I’d always wait a really long time while several friends who used the practice at the same time said “really? we never have a wait.” so they just see me coming I guess 🙂

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