Although meeting with my spine doctor yesterday, two weeks before he retires, didn’t seemly resolve my hurting tailbone issue, it did introduce a logical solution. I predicted this. He’s retiring and didn’t study my medical records because he was merely assessing my current condition and advising before retiring. He recommended that I talk to my pain management doctor and if my spine had problems… unfortunately… the old spine doctor. It’s been exhausting working through this.
The thirty-plus-minute drive there and back wiped me out.
I carefully listed all of my questions for the doctor. He answered the ones he could, but he deflected many of them over to either my pain management doctor for more investigation of the old spine doctor – since he did the surgery. Even after I told him my concerns about that doctor, he shrugged it off, acting almost as though I should get over it. My pain management doctor can consult with the old spine doctor, and if I need to go back, I will not see him. I’ll meet with a new doctor. Even if spine surgery is highly personalized, where one doctor’s approach to doing surgery is vastly different than another, it’s not like it’s impossible for the old spine doctor to advise a hypothetical new spine doctor about the particularities of how he did the surgery.
It’s not like each spine doctor reinvents the procedure for each surgery.
If they do, then I can help advise these doctors on best practices in other industries. In technical support, for example, it’s easy to get tribal knowledge because it’s so difficult to document processes in a timely manner. If you fix a widget, sometimes you don’t even know what fixed it. Even documenting what you did in detail – assuming you can find the time – can still lead others in wrong directions due to changes in the environment from software, hardware, users, or whatever. Although the problems that are fixed in the technical support field are trivial compared to doctors, both fields still apply general problem-solving techniques. If one tech can’t advise another on how they fixed a problem, there’s a problem. Same for doctors.
So I feel rather confident in this transference of care.
It happens often, sometimes more politely than others. When my old pain management doctor transferred my care, first to my old spine doctor and then the emergency room, it was more of a boot out the door. This was more of a polite hand-off… I suppose. The most difficult aspect of all of this was communicating with all of the involved parties about what’s going on. My insurance company, worker’s compensation company, long-term disability company, in addition to the pain management doctor’s office and my manager. The ride home from the office wiped me out, too. Something I realized last time I, too, was wiped out was explaining that I would communicate the day after my meeting with a doctor, so I could get home and nap for hours if needed.
It seems like a trivial communication technique until you’re faced with replying by “EOD.”
The most difficult part of this whole current communication situation is that one party will tell me one thing and another party will tell me something different, sometimes, within the same company. My insurance company told me up and down that 100% of my surgery would be covered until I got two bills. Less than $20 in total, certainly, but I was told that the 100% coverage was not true. My insurance company also told me that they reached out about bills, but when I received a “second notification” bill, I went through the hoops to communicate with them directly via their email portal the information I’ve been given so hopefully I won’t receive a “third notification.”
This is why my retiring spine doctor’s apathy isn’t concerning for me.
He did the best that he could given that he was probably given softball cases after he announced he would retire. He probably stopped doing surgeries and might remain a consulting doctor. He might answer an occasional call; if being a retired doctor is anything like leaving a company after doing technical support for them, so there would be no point for him to dig too deeply into any problems. Send it along to a different company or refer back to a different doctor.
The American Healthcare System is not designed around serving patient care.
If it were, given my current condition, one of these companies would reach out to the other and communicate on my behalf what needed to happen. I wouldn’t need to allocate the time I can sit to navigating through email portals, communicating with people, or figuring out why one representative lied about something to the other. It reminds me of when I got my car’s tires looked at some years ago. They put it up on the machine to check the alignment. One person said my tires were fine; another said my tires were not. I told the second person to go talk with the first and agree to one lie to tell me.
I suspect that the American Healthcare System is full of liars because of money.
Let’s say that you’re an individual that wants a lot of money. You can get into a few different disciplines to do this legitimately. One of them is becoming a doctor. There are two major benefits here as well: unlimited respect from everyone around you and unchecked behavior. You call the shots. This behavior trickles down. There are good doctors and good people, certainly, but you have to do good for yourself if you want “good” done to you. You have to be willing to sacrifice hours of your time to stand up for yourself. You shouldn’t have to and you may not have the energy for it. I certainly don’t. I should be resting and recovering. Instead, these things are delaying my patient care.
But it’s not like this was a surprise or shock to me.
|Sources: My fitness experiences.
– This week’s weight: 221.0
– Last week’s weight: 217.5
– Weight Difference: The weight did increase significantly but a few hours after I weighed in, difficultly, I had a nice reduction of weight. Especially now, these numbers are not expressive of my current health.
– Difference between writing and editing for publication: I can give you spoilers on what happened here. So after the retiring spine doctor dumped me off with the pain management doctor, the pain management doctor dumped me off at the sports medicine doctor, who then dumped me back off at the office of the now-retired spine doctor. I have a new spine doctor and will have an appointment in a few weeks, but, wow, this dumping took a lot out of my health, as you’ll read about later.
|Inspirations: No one cares for your health more than you do. At least the retiring doctor was transparent in his apathy, and to that, there is no manipulation to disrespect.|
|Related: Past weekly column entries. Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.|
|Written On: 2020 October 07 [10:39am to “replying by “EOD”” at 10:57am; 12:06pm to 12:18pm]|
|Last Edited: 2020 October 07 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|