Friday, March 16, 2012

The Opposite of Favorite Medical Professional

This past Monday, I restarted Zometa treatment. I took a "vacation" from it on the advice of an oral surgeon, for the root canal in October. The Oncologist and I kind of let it slide for a while, Faslodex garnering all our attention. With my CEA number on the continuous and not small-increment rise, I am hoping it does well for me again, pasting over those pesky lesions, or whatever it does, and getting my bones to a "stable" status once again.

I booked my appointment for the Zometa at the office close to my home, since I did not have an appointment to also see my doctor. I have been toying with the idea of changing doctors and locations permanently. Don't tell Dr.P. It's still a secret. Maybe we can chalk this up to trial separation and see how things go the next time I see him. I LOVE the nurse, Suzanne, at this location. She is the one who went out of her way to get me a new Rx for pain meds when I was in there just for a blood draw and in obvious pain. The office seems less busy, less chaotic, than the one where I go. 

The one adjacent to the hospital I hate. 
The one that is crazy busy and just a hot mess most days, 
like the day I went in for a check up, 
had my appt cut in half and landed in Hospital Hell for five days. 

I thought I would go in to the office near my home for the Zometa, and maybe take the opportunity to chat up Suzanne about the doctors at that office. 

To my dismay, when I arrived in the chemo room on Monday, Suzanne was nowhere in sight. She was apparently finally at lunch, after a very busy day (from what I could glean). Accompanying me today was a nurse I had not yet met there. Rhymes with Mathy. She seemed okay at first. I asked after Suzanne. Mathy said she was here but in the other room, did I need to see her? No, she is just the only Rn there I know. Mathy says then it's time to meet more and introduces herself. So far so good.

I sit for a bit and Mathy verifies that I am doing Zometa and my other shot today.

What other shot? Faslodex? No, I'm not doing Faslodex.

The other office said Zometa and Faslodex when they called it over to Suzanne that morning. (Par for the Hot Mess office.)

Faslodex was not working. We gave it five months. Last time I saw Doctor we decided not to do it. 

Mathy will have to call and verify. (As if they will force a big fat shot in both buttocks if I refuse.)

Being so recently out of Hospital Hell, where I felt my doctor had no idea what was going on with me, having felt so much relief at the thought of NOT having those painful injections today, I am still very emotional and close to tears at any given moment. Hick-ups like this, miscommunications like this are a sure way to get my water works going. 

Mathy walks over and sees my tears.

"Why are  you crying?"

Searching for a succinct answer, I go with being upset that the doctor forgot that we had decided not to do the shots.

"That is no reason for tears!"

All she has to do is call and verify, and there's no reason to get upset when I don't even know what the answer is yet. 

Kleenex box lands with a thud next to me on the tray.

Now I'm pissed AND crying. I barely speak to her again for the remainder of the visit. How DARE she speak to me like that. I'M the one with cancer, not just cancer, but metastatic cancer. I'll cry if I damn well feel like it!

The Doctor forgetting that we weren't doing Faslodex was just the quickest and seemingly most innocuous reason I could throw out at the moment that wouldn't induce a greater deluge. 

The idea that Doctor forgot we weren't doing Faslodex, or did not update my chart to reflect that we had not done it the last time I saw him and that we were officially considering it fail, the idea that maybe he had changed his mind and wanted me to do those painful shots, for which I doubted I could stand, considering all pain I was already in that day, the fact that Hospital Hell was such a recent and still painful memory are ALL, in MY opinion, REASON ENOUGH for tears.

If that's not enough add this horrendous pain that increased with the stay in Hospital Hell that was supposed to get it under control. Pain that may or may not be with me for the duration of my life.

My life, which is now being controlled by metastatic cancer.

Metastatic Cancer, which will kill me, after much pain and suffering. 

She can take her frickin' pick; there are many things in my life, combining in that moment of frustration, when something simple could not simply go off with out a hitch, that are REASON ENOUGH for tears. 

She never did even let me know that she'd received word back and I was right, no Faslodex. She just went ahead, accessed my port and administered the Zometa. At this point I was still open to salvaging her status in my book. I even thanked her on my way out. 

But, in the words of that famous 50's pop song, it's my party and I'll cry if I want to! It's my cancer, and I will damn well cry if I want to. Walk 10 yards in my shoes, lady, before berating my emotion. 

One person can make or break an office. One person's lack of compassion and kindness can ruin it for everyone. I love the other nurse there. She is exemplary. 

Mathy is her antithesis. Mathy shouldn't even work in a VET's office, with that attitude. Maybe she should work in a morgue, where the patients are already dead, and don't cry, and won't have their feelings hurt by her curtness and lack of compassion, (though I do believe that the dead deserve respect and kindness, just the same).

So, Mathy, as far as being a medical professional who actually helps, YOU FAIL. You represent the portion of your field who have no business in a profession requiring interpersonal relating. You represent the portion of your field who need to have an attitude adjustment. You are not mechanics. We are not automobiles. We are patients, dealing with illnesses, often at our worse emotionally. This is not basic training, this is not baseball. This is cancer. THERE IS CRYING IN CANCER!

Will I go back to that office for my treatments if I don't need to see the doctor? I don't know. It takes HOURS less to get in and out of there than it does at Hot Mess. But will I be greeted at Close to Home office by Suzanne, who welcomes me with open arms and goes the extra mile for me, as if I were a daily regular, or will I get stuck with Mathy, who sees me as an interruption to her busy day?

As patients in the treatment room for medical treatment of life-threatening illnesses, should we not be shielded from the frustrations of nurses who feel and are overworked, their frustrations with being on hold with pharmacies, with any number of scheduling inconveniences, etc, ETC? 

In ANY business office, the clients are not to see those frustrations. The clients are not to see overloads and the irritations. As an office professional, you are expected to suck it up, leave it at the door, and let the clients see a well-run business in which THEY are important. 

Why are we conditioned to accept LESS in a medical setting?


AhPickles said...

Dear Mathy,
It is better that I cry than stand up and punch you in the nose to see if you're human.
One who shant be marginalized

Anonymous said...

Feelings belong to the one who is feeling them. All feelings are acceptable. As a nurse, nursing professor, and BC survivor, I teach my students that fact!!! So Mathy you need a refresher course!

marnee said...

Keep that voice alive!

Even though it isn't a fabulous fun filled fantasy that you are living at the moment, you can still be real about it.

I love that you tell it how it is for you, without the sugar coating.

The Accidental Amazon said...

I can't help but suspect that Mathy's real name is Kathy, which is a variant spelling of Kathi, which is my name, and I deeply resent her for tarnishing my name.

M/Kathy, get a flipping clue, will ya? As a physical therapist and a breast cancer patient, I have to agree with the anomymous nurse above who recommends you take a refresher course in empathy, listening skills, and communication. Or, better yet, consider a career change. I hear there are lots of jobs in data entry these days.

'Don't make me find you & slap you upside the head,'
A Much Nicer Kathi/y Than You