[Tripping On…] “…Like Your Feedback!”

I received an automated survey from the office of the sports medicine doctor. “Would they really like my feedback?,” I thought, as my spine misbehaved intensely. After I settled in for the evening with some of my last remaining Gabapentin that only amplified the inebriation of pain, lack of quality sleep, and the overall sense of impending doom as bills continue to pile up even though nothing’s been done. I called their operation a circus.

Last time, the survey was non-anonymous.

That probably bought me the traction I needed to express my frustration to a human being. This is just a dumb survey that will probably lead to nothing. The sports medicine doctor, as I wrote in the survey, did not even have any of my charts. How could he begin to treat me if he had no information on me? Of course he would consider me suspicious if I told him I was in pain. He would take me as some kind of painkiller drug fiend. I mean, I need the painkillers to reduce the pain I’ve been experiencing basically since April 2020, this being written in late-November, so it would be nice to free myself from the spine pain I experience every day.

Why would a doctor need to practice with empathy when they could instead be suspicious?

This same winging-it mentality happened with my new spine surgeon, where he wanted to meet me first before doing any sort of in-depth analysis, but there was one fundamental difference: the sports medicine doctor had no actionable items. He acted as though my health was not his responsibility. How could I go to a sports medicine doctor when I haven’t even been cleared by the spine surgeon’s office to do physical therapy? Of course the sports medicine doctor would discard me. I’m not in the physical shape to see a doctor about sports medicine, whatever that actually means.

Why treat the physical symptoms when you can blame it on painkiller medication?

I didn’t write about this. I wrote about how the doctor lacked information and the nurses did not handle things in any professional manner. I’m still waiting on a phone call from one nurse, after I called to ask for advice – I was put on hold, told that it was so-and-so’s responsibility, and that they would call me by the end of the day. That was last week, I think. I really don’t care about whether I will go back to that office again. So I wrote the truth as I experienced it to the best of my ability, as I’ve done throughout these essays. Through these essays and through my experiences over the past year, I’ve fully become the Zombiepaper that my moniker represents.

I’ve written about the highs, lows, and in-betweens.

There haven’t really been any highs through this adventure. If I notice any inebriation sensation from any of the medication, it’s usually very light compared to alcohol or some strains of cannabis. I never got into the harder stuff, other than some meandries with some BHO, mainly because I didn’t have access to it, but also out of perhaps a sense of responsibility. I am, in a sense, a reporter that is ‘on the scene’ giving readers an in-depth look into how it’s like to be a patient in the American Healthcare System in 2020.

COVID-19 is a good excuse to hide behind bad behavior in any workplace, hospitals included.

Why do I keep on fighting? Why do I waste my time writing all of this stuff that has made me no profit? It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to want to succeed as a writer or do much of anything. I do my best to clear my calendar of responsibilities because I can’t do them. The responsibilities are still there. I still need to drive to the mailbox to pick up the bills from the healthcare providers that didn’t provide healthcare to any degree. They charge for these sorts of unactionable meet-and-greets and I’m supposed to feel that they are invested in my health when they have said nothing or done nothing to help?

Writing these essays keeps my head above water.

I can dump out some of the surface level angst I have through this process. If I were to write the totality of how I feel, if I had the ability to do so, it might be therapeutic but it wouldn’t be publishable. So when I wrote into that anonymous survey that won’t go anywhere, and I told them that their organization was run like a circus, that’s a succinct way of me telling them what I think. It’s obviously not an actual circus in the hospital I visited, but the way they were so disorganized that they have a sort of reputation for being unreliable about having medical records, I wonder why I was referred there in the first place unless it was to stall and waste time?

All I want is to have a day without severe spine pain.

Prescription painkillers might seem like a good excuse because any doctor with that diagnosis can say that they don’t have to treat the spine. They can treat the patient like a loser addict that needs to be treated psychologically rather than physically. The problem is that I have not taken a painkiller on my own – other than the ones given to me specifically by nurses and medical professionals before I was discharged from the hospital – that has completely cut out the pain my spine presents at all times. So when I talk about a minor inebriation sensation from any the remaining painkillers I was prescribed months ago, all they do is mask the underlying physical pain that no doctor seems interested in treating. With this mentality I face daily, I can’t do anything but sit here in pain. Standing hurts. Resting hurts. At least here, I can write about my problems.

My problems won’t go away but at least I’ve sent them off as writing.

Quotes: I’ve redacted the letter, but here it is:
Dear [Zombiepaper],
Thank you for choosing the physicians and staff of [clinic] to serve your health needs. We understand and appreciate the trust our patients and community place in us.
We are dedicated to providing you and your loved ones exceptional care and experiences, and continuously strive to improve. If you would like to share your experience with a caregiver who helped care for you, or if there are things we could do to improve, we would like to hear about it.
Please take a few minutes to answer a brief survey and share your thoughts about your recent visit with [sports medicine doctor]. Your input will help us to understand what we do well and what we can do better. If you have received this email regarding a child’s visit, please complete the survey on his or her behalf.
To ensure confidentiality, this survey is administered by an independent third-party. Your participation will help us to improve the quality of care that we provide to you, your family, friends, and neighbors. We value your feedback and may share patient comments anonymously on our website.
Click here to begin your survey.
Thank you for your feedback.
[The CEO of the company? Yeah right…]
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: I suppose writing about these feelings can help the psychological undertones but the idea of moving around at all to massive pain is not something that I would consider treatable without actually treating the physical issue itself. I am only treating one small portion of the issue: my attitude, which has degraded and became someone that is weary and cynical of the future. How can I dream big if my biggest dream is having one single day without pain – even if we say no excessive movement, just waking up and going to bed without constant pain. You get used to it but it wears you out, and then you get used to the new normal amount of pain, then it gets worse, and it continues to get worse until you are where I am. I feel like a zombie. Zombiepaper is a good way to describe me and the work I do. I certainly don’t feel like Healthypaper right now.
Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.
Picture: Template
Written On: 2020 November 20 [Midnight to 12:2222222222222am]
Last Edited: 2020 November 20 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]


My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.