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If the patient is late, make them wait

September 21, 2011

I got screwed over by that mindset today. Those that follow me on twitter have already seen me rant about it as I was leaving the hospital. So what happened?

The ultrasound was at a hospital I’ve never been to before and I wanted to make sure I was there a bit early. I had the directions from their website and we left a half hour earlier than needed.

We get to the city just fine (been there many times, sibling lives there, I’ve lived there briefly a few times), but this hospital is in a part of the city I’m not overly familiar with. We follow the directions, and all of a sudden….something’s not matching up. Directions say follow this street past two left turns and the hospital will be on your right. Go straight past 2 left turns and….nothing. No hospital. No hospitals signs even….ok. Something’s really wrong. Oh look, now it’s not even the same street anymore, it’s turned into another one. WTF? At this point I start to get the usual signs that I need to get to a bathroom. Increased numbness, arms and legs are feeling week, shaking a bit. By this point I had already drank the required amount of water (950ml) but I chugged a good deal of the last of it so it’s just working its way into my bladder. I had the first 500ml shortly after leaving town and downed my last 200ml as we got into the city (I was sipping the rest of it on the way).

So we turn around and start doubling back. Eventually the street turns back into the one the hospital should have been on. No hospital. Ok where is this thing?! Keep going along and eventually hospital signs start showing up (they were only on one side of the road despite it not being a one-way street and not being completely separated by a median). It’s now 5 minutes past the time my appointment was for. Crap, I had been too focused on trying to figure out where we were going to notice the time. Grab my phone and call the department. Sudden traffic noise just as the recording says which button to push for ultrasound. Damn. Hang up and call again. Sit through the recording again, finally get on the line with ultrasound aaand….as soon as they answered I was put on hold, they didn’t even say hello. My reception starts cutting in an out so I’m bouncing back and forth between static and terrible muzak.

Finally find the entrance to the hospital and I’m still on hold, so I just hang up. Managed to find a parking spot fairly quickly and rushed in. Standing in line at reception, I see I’m 15 minutes late. Damn. Talk to the reception, go to tell her “I’m 15 minutes late because…” and she cuts me off. “Health card please.” …k. Hand her my card and such. “You’re 15 minutes late” “Ya I know, I..” she cuts me off again. “Well there’s going to be a wait then, I don’t know when we’re going to be able to get you done.” She’s flipping through the appointment schedule for the day as she’s saying this. It’s booked solid all day long. They are open until 8pm and it’s only noon. “Well, have a seat I guess” and she hands me my paper. She grabs the schedule and scribbles “LATE” next to my name.

So I sit down and immediately notice I am the only person there that is not a senior citizen. I was expecting to be surrounded by pregnant women. There is one particular lady sitting directly across from me that will not stop glaring at me. I don’t know what the hell her problem was, but I eventually got really sick of it and when I caught her glaring at me again I stared her in the eyes and made a “wtf is your problem?” face. I now can tell that I desperately need to go RIGHT THAT SECOND. The pain in my stomach was horrible. It felt like I had a knife in my bladder. I’ve had an ultrasound done before with the same amount of water and it did not hurt that badly. So I’m starting to fidget a bit because I’m in a lot of pain, and the old bag across from me must have had it click in her head that I had to go to the bathroom. So what does she do? she breaks out a bottle of water and starts swishing it around and sipping on it constantly while giving me more dirty looks. I wanted to knock her out.

Patients are coming and going fairly quickly, but as one leaves, another always comes in so the waiting room never empties out. It’s now almost an hour after my appointment was supposed to be. The pain is getting worse, my legs and hands are going really numb. I still can’t feel the back of my left hand. The receptionists are gabbing away, and they say the time of the appointment before calling the next patient. They are now calling patients that are booked an hour from now. They are booked solid today, but they are running ahead of schedule. If they are ahead of schedule, why exactly am I waiting until all the other appointments are done for the day? There is no logical reason for that, it’s just punishment for being 15 minutes late. The pain is getting even worse now and I know I won’t be able to hold it in much longer. I’m fighting as hard as I can to keep it all in, but it doesn’t work. I feel a trickle. Dear god I’m pissing myself in fucking PUBLIC because a receptionist is having a bad day and wants to take it out on someone. Good thing I was a bit worried about not being able to hold in all that water and wore a pad or they would have had to throw out the chair I was sitting on. The trickle stops. THANK GOD!

I’m trying not to move around at all and starting to worry. If I manage to keep the rest of it all in until 8pm somehow, I will not be able to once they start doing the test. There is just no way I could have held all that in with pressure on my stomach. Plus with the travel time, my ride there would have been late for work if we waited until closing time (plus who knows, if they’re being bitchy enough to make me wait until from noon until 8pm with a full bladder, they’ll probably just tell me “closing time! go home and come back some other time!”). Spring another leak. DAMNIT. It’s not stopping this time. The pad will only hold so much, there is no way it’s going to last much longer. I don’t want to just walk out, they’ll probably count me as a no-show and maybe even bill me. So I go up to the receptionist (a different one this time), hand her back my paper and say “I have to cancel” and am about to rush off to find a bathroom. “Oh, you’re appointment was at 1145 and you haven’t been seen yet?!” “Nope” “oh….oh ok…uhh, well I’ll just call the booking office and reschedule you” I’m inching towards the door trying to get out of this conversation so I can get to a bathroom before I leave a puddle on the floor. “No, don’t bother” “Oh you don’t want to reschedule? Are you sure?” “Ya ya it’s fine I’ll go to another hospital closer to home” “Oh, well….ok.”

Run off, find a bathroom, and as I’m walking down the hall towards the bathroom… the trickle stops. Oh COME ON! Get in the bathroom, I feel like I’m going to throw up from the pain, lock the door…and wait a minute, that latch didn’t catch. Damnit, the lock is broken! SCREW IT! Throw on the tap so people outside know it’s occupied and try to go. Key word there: try.

With all that fluid in there and the leaking, I couldn’t just go. I sat and sat and sat. I had to press extremely hard on my stomach to get things going. Usually now I just press on my stomach for the first bit and by the time it tapers off from the lack of pressure it’s empty. Any time I took pressure off it just stopped completely. I had to pretty much repeatedly punch myself in the stomach over and over again to get it mostly empty. Note: mostly. I couldn’t get it to empty completely. When we were driving back home, my stomach was still distended.

Went again when I got home, and I know it’s not empty yet. I just can’t seem to get it all out. If I end up getting a UTI because of this, I will be beyond furious. The thought of a catheter is like a heavenly dream to me right now, I just want it all gone!

So now I have to call the MS clinic tomorrow and tell them what happened, and ask for a new requisition to be sent to the hospital in town. I friggin HATE the ultrasound department in town. The guy that does the tests is extremely rough and has no real understanding of human anatomy and physiology (ex: he was expecting me to hold my breath for 10 mins at a time during the last time, and when a pregnant friend had an ultrasound done by him he made her bleed). I’m not going back to Big City SHITHOLE ever again, that is for sure. I’m really hoping my MRI will be booked in the same hospital as the MS clinic and not that hellhole.

So yay, we’re down the money we wasted on gas and parking today, wear and tear on the car, and I got to finally lose that shred of dignity that flutters away the first time you feel yourself lose control of your bladder in public. Feelin great. And I missed a day of classes for this crap. Wonderful. To any medical receptionists that might happen to read this that have that “if the patient is late make them wait, no matter what” attitude: go die in a fire and rot in hell.

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