The Doctor, by Sir Luke Fildes (1891) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I had another doctors’ appointment today. The receptionist smiled at me, asked for my name, and then told me I don’t have an appointment. (She, or someone from that office, had called to confirm it a couple of days ago.) I quite clearly could not breathe, having spent the morning trying to empty a flooded basement, and she continued to smile, and nod, and cut me off every time I managed to get out a word. She simply would not let me finish a sentence. I finally walked away to use an inhaler, and then went back to the desk.
“I……..have……appointment.” I feel like idiot.
“Still can’t breathe?” More smiling, more nodding.
“I found the problem. You were put in the schedule as a ‘mystery patient’.
Can’t talk, laugh, or breathe, at this point, and am hoping maybe a doctor, or nurse, or even a slightly observant maintenance person comes along, possibly carrying oxygen. Nope. After several more moments of trying to get out one word at a time in between all the smiling and nodding and cutting me off, a friend who works there shows up, finds a nurse, and gets me in to see a doctor quickly. When I am rich and famous, I will buy her a small gift. Maybe a new car, or something.
Anyway, the doctor, who apparently can’t recognize an asthma attack when he sees one (for this he paid for medical school?) also began to talk over me, through me, and at me, and cut me off every time I tried to talk. He then stated that I apparently can’t breathe (I could quite literally die laughing at this point, except that I was trying not to cry) and since that’s not what I was there for (it was supposed to be a routine follow-up for a sinus infection, that I had last year) he decided to leave the room, since he didn’t know what to do. Oh, and I had called over a week ago to see if I could get in quickly, because I cannot seem to open my mouth wide enough to eat without dislocating my jaw. I didn’t want to go to an emergency room if I could just get in to see a doctor. Soon. Because I’m hungry.
I should have gone to the emergency room.
As I was trying to talk to the doctor, he suddenly decided to leave the room, because he didn’t know what to do. As I was motioning for him to stay, I had one of those split-brain moments of “Really? Patient can’t breathe, and doctor doesn’t know what to do, so he decides to leave the room.” I am sure that someday this will all be hysterically funny, but at the moment, the room is spinning.
One of my daughters wants to be a nurse. She is as frustrated (disgusted, really) with the lack of good, common-sense health care as I am, and has all those young adult dreams of getting a degree and changing the system. I had the same hopes and dreams, two degrees and three jobs ago, and realized that They don’t want the system changed. They just want you to do your job, sign out and go home. And come back and do it again tomorrow. If you’ve read Homer, you know that there is only one real way to change a system, and it’s not Top Down. They can’t be bothered, and that’s true whether it’s a business, a university, or a church.
Anyway, back to the story.
The nurse manages to get the doctor to come back in the room because, after all, it is him that I am trying to talk to, but he looks terrified, poor little man. I finally leave with an appointment for tomorrow morning at Crouse Physical Therapy for my jaw problem (God bless the nurse) and he’s sure that I just have TMJ (Gee, you think? I grind my teeth when I’m awake) but never offers a breathing treatment, or anything for the asthma. Or, for that matter, my sinuses, which he forgets to look at or inquire about.
Inhale. God is faithful. Exhale. God is good.
So, for those of you with an asthma sufferer in your life, please, for God’s sake:
Note the signs of ‘unable to breathe’: this includes odd gasping sounds, hand to chest, odd mouth movements (these would be words) or obvious signs of dizziness, sweating, accompanied by a slightly panicky look in the eyes. These all mean “I need air.” Fainting generally means “I need air quickly.”
If the person is trying to talk, and you know that they have asthma, please let them finish a sentence before you jump in with questions, or run off on a tangent. Long breaks between words do not necessarily signify the end of a sentence, it means I am inhaling so I can finish what I’m saying. Cutting me off means I have to start over. With even less air. Combine this with the fact that it usually takes me awhile just to form a complete thought (under normal circumstances) and we could be here awhile. Use your common sense. If it sounds like an incomplete sentence, it probably is. Wait.
I’m not high-maintenance. Really. Just stressed. Can you tell?
Okay, back to cleaning up the basement. Thanks for listening.