Yesterday was medical day. I have been making and keeping appointments with physicians here in Johnstown, and also in Amsterdam, which is about 15 miles away. The word is that Amsterdam is a better hospital than the local option, Nathan Littauer. With that in mind, I have had an appointment with a well-recommended orthopedist in Amsterdam for quite some time. I was finally seen yesterday for a shoulder injury that I incurred in May, and I was pleased with the whole experience. The testing was thorough, the staff was friendly and helpful, the PA seemed knowledgable and sympathetic, and there was ample parking. I feel better already. I am waiting on the results of the MRI, but the PA and I both are sure that the rotator cuff is either torn or shredded. Shredded would be better, as it could be repaired with physical therapy. Torn is not so good, as that would require surgery. The results will be ready by Friday and either way I am happy to be moving forward with some type of treatment for my shoulder, because it is getting in the way of my life. It is hard to be doing renovations and trying to get some farming done when your shoulder is completely painful and immobile. It's not a good combination. I need to get it fixed. Now.
The whole trip to Amsterdam was entirely pleasant and restorative. I felt as if I was being heard and respected. This is something that has been lost on me in the North Shore Hospital system on Long Island. The stress of that system was not a good fit for me, a term used in human resources that also applies to medical people. I was not happy with North Shore. I liked my cardiologist and my general physician, but the whole system was entirely too large and complicated for my taste. If you are not someone with a chronic illness and your doctor interractions are limited to physicals and occasional cold or flu, you are very lucky. As a Type I diabetic with a history of heart attack and cardiac stents, I spend ALOT of time dealing with physicians and their staff. There is not a support group in the world that would not be happy and proud to have me as a member. It has not always been helpful or pleasant. I have left doctors whom I genuinely liked because their staff was so disrespectful to me as a human being. One doctor, who shall remain nameless, had a front desk employee who treated the patients like we were criminals. I once had the audacity to request an insulin prescription when I had not been in to see the doctor for a little more than three months. Although I had a scheduled appointment within the next two weeks, she proceeded to berate me in the outer office as though I was asking for black market drugs to then be sold on the street. I was mortified. After she finally got the prescription from the doctor, and insisted that I reschedule my appointment for the next day, I began to drive home. On the way, I snapped. Something in me just said No. Take this prescription and shove it. I pulled over a few blocks from that Doctor's office and called my GP, who is generally a compassionate and qualified doctor. Her office said to come right over if I needed an insulin prescription, and they would have her see me IMMEDIATELY and write up the necessary prescription. I turned around and drove back to the Endocrinologists office, walked into the front desk area and handed back the prescription to the witch at the desk. I told her to take the prescription to the doctor and inform him that I would not be returning as a patient, that anytime someone is made to feel like a criminal for attempting to fill a prescription that is KEEPING THEM ALIVE, something is really wrong. One of the men in the waiting room said out loud "good for you honey". I left and felt like I had won a major battle for R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Not really. I never heard from the doctor's office, so I guess they had plenty of other schmucks to fill their schedule. I probably should have called and asked to speak to the Doctor personally, but I was just tired of the whole place. It was an experience that has stuck with me though. It empowered me as a human being, and it educated me as a patient. I am more inclined to question my doctor as a peer. I am entitled to compassionate and kind care in the course of my medical treatments, and I don't hesitate to demand that. The thing is, so far, I have been pleasantly rewarded with that type of behavior here in the boondocks. I am not dissing the metropolitan area medically. I am sure that the metro area has the finest medical care in the world. Truly. Of that I have no doubts. I do question the level of care here, because it simply is not Long Island or New York City. Let's face it, people do not travel to Johnstown or Amsterdam to seek medical opinions. But you will find people receiving care on Long Island or NYC who have traveled from all over the world. The care is that good. But somewhere along the way, I felt lost as a patient. It is a scary journey for someone with my health issues, and being treated like pond-scum by the medical staff is not conducive to feel-good reduced stress medical care. It's hard enough to always try and do the right thing when you have a chronic disease or two, and the medical staff trying to beat you down is just wrong. It just muddies the water so to speak.
So, for me, on this day, I am feeling good about our move, and hoping that this optimism continues. I like my doctors. Which isn't to say if I ever had something really SERIOUS going on that I wouldn't be jumping on the thruway and heading south. There is nothing like NYC for world class physicians. Just a vent of mine. Thanks for listening. Go get a physical. Do the right thing no matter who your doctor is. Just don't let the front desk run you away. You're worth more. We all are.