Thursday, September 25, 2008

Devalued

I have very little respect for medical providers. I go to doctors, I pay my fees, I do what they tell me to do, but I do not respect them. I do not respect them because they clearly do not respect me.

About six weeks ago I went in for a routine eye exam. I was having no problems with my vision, it was just time to go. Everything went as expected, and I walked out with a new prescription for contact lenses.

Within a week I noticed that the left lens wasn't working for me, so I went back for a recheck. They sent me home with a different left lens. That one didn't work. Another recheck, another left lens. The optometrist commented that some people "my age" can't wear contact lenses anymore.

Right about that time I noticed that I had a growth, a bump, on my left eyelid. I also noticed that the vision in my left eye was significantly changed. I was experiencing double vision and it felt like I was looking through Vaseline. Even my glasses were not working for me anymore.

Back for another recheck. No one would listen to me. The assistant wouldn't let me tell her what I was experiencing. The optometrist fixated on the fact that the bump might be keeping the contact lens from seating properly. He completely disregarded the fact that I couldn't even see with my glasses. He refused to recheck my vision and told me to go to an ophthalmologist to have the growth removed. He refused to answer my inquiries, and he failed to give me any instructions.

I resorted to poking around on the internet to try to understand what was happening to my eye. Turns out I have something called a chalazion.

Two weeks passed before I could get into the specialist's office. Two weeks of not being able to read, two weeks of not being able to drive at night, two weeks of eye strain and headaches.

I went to my appointment yesterday. I sat in the waiting room for two hours. When I was finally taken back to the exam room, the assistant asked a few rapid-fire questions, said it didn't look too bad to her, and ran out of the room before I had a chance to ask any questions.

The second assistant asked what I had been doing to treat the problem. I told her I had been given no instructions. She frowned and informed me that I was supposed to be treating this and that removal was a last resort. She, too, ran out of the room before I could speak.

Thirty minutes later the ophthalmologist came in. He told me I had a chalazion (no s**t, Sherlock), that I needed to apply hot compresses 5 times a day and put this ointment in my eye every night. He said that if it wasn't gone in a month, he will lance it. He grunted something when I remarked that I could have taken care of this myself.

I forced him to confirm that the chalazion is the reason I couldn't see. He seemed mildly surprised that I had been given no information, and he was clearly annoyed that I had wasted his time. He showed absolutely no concern for the fact that I had waited for him for over two hours or that I had dealing with poor vision for a month. And he had no recommendations regarding how I was supposed to get around in the upcoming month.

Did I mention that every one of these visits cost me and my insurance company an exorbitant amount of money? The money is not the issue, however. I just wanted to shout, "Would you please just shut up and listen to me? If you would close your mouth, I will give you everything you need to make an informed diagnosis."

I'm pissed. I still can't see. I still have a headache. I still have to be driven after dark. I've wasted lots of money and time due to someone else's lack of communication skills. I feel devalued and disrespected. I can't wear eye makeup for yet another month. And... I have no idea how to evoke change in a system that is fatally flawed.

3 comments:

BB said...

The medical professionals who take time to listen seem to be few and far between, sadly. Every professional you've seen for this problem deserves an earful, that's for sure.

lsdivergal said...

Maybe they will forget and run with scissors...then they too can deal with their own species.....

Anonymous said...

Ooooooh... I like Melinda's idea...

BB