I went to the doctor for my annual physical the other day. Everything has been fine and I really didn't have anything to bring up, besides the fact that my wrists have been killing me for months. So, we discussed it, she asked me some questions, watched me move my wrists this way and that, said I should go to a nearby hand therapy clinic (which she gave me the name of) and we moved on. She even mentioned a certain type of splint I would likely need depending on the diagnosis, which she said she would defer to the clinic. That said, I went on my way, and made an appointment with the hand therapy clinic.
The clinic was very thorough, emailed me paperwork, checked my insurance coverage and called to say everything was set. Then, today, I got a call from the doctor's office. The message went something like this: the doctor said you were in for your physical so she didn't really have time to make a diagnosis of your wrist, so you'll need to come in for a separate visit for that. HUH? That was the ONLY thing we talked about at the appointment, separate from the regular exam. And, I don't know, I guess it just got under my skin. Because the real reason they were making a stink about it is so I would come in again, pay another co-pay, just for the doctor to do the exact same exam of my wrists she already did, tell me the same thing she already said, and refer me to the same clinic she already referred me to. My appointment is this week. I couldn't even get in to see the doctor before the appointment if I wanted to!
So, I called back. And waited 15 minutes on hold. When I finally talked to a person, she said the nurse who called me was "busy" and could call me back. I said I was calling HER back, and if she called ME back, then she'd just leave me the same message. So, I left a detailed message with the office clerk. Several hours later, I received another call from the nurse, again stating that the doctor "didn't remember" talking about my wrist and according to the chart notes, she only mentioned it in passing. I reminded her of the very detailed exam and conversation we had, and let her know I would not be coming back in just to pay another co-pay. She tried to reassure me by saying she "believed" me but would have to check with the doctor again. Believed me?
And I have not heard back. I'm sure it will all get worked out, the referral (which I don't even need for my insurance) will go through, I'll visit the clinic, and my wrist will get a splint or therapy or whatever it needs to get better. But the point is, what a total waste of time. First of all, I am SO sick of doctor's offices' policy of "one problem per visit". I get it - they don't want people coming in and whining about every little hangnail, but an annual exam, by it's very nature, is a chance to "catch up" on health issues that may have arisen since your last visit. The doctor ASKS you if there are any problems. So, if there are, they want you to schedule another appointment to discuss them? Crazy! We have to pay $15 every time we see the doctor (and with a family of six that's more often than you'd think). After that, our insurance only covers 80-90%, plus deductibles, so we shell out a pretty hefty sum to stay healthy.
Truth be told, my wrists have been killing me for months. Since the summer, actually. I figured it was some type of tendonitis and would go away on its own. But it hasn't. So, why did I wait so long to get them looked at? Because I figured I could just wait till my physical and deal with it then. Sure, they hurt and bugged me, some days worse than others, but, unlike strep throat or a sinus infection, I didn't think they needed immediate relief and figured I could save the co-pay. I simply can't afford to pay $15 plus 10-20% of the office visit for every little thing that bugs me. Preventative medicine be damned. Who can afford it?
And doctors wonder why we take to the internet to diagnose ourselves on WebMD (or worse). Easy answer - because it's free. We don't get charged $15 for each answer that pops up. And I don't need a doctor to tell me that my wrist needs to be seen by a specialist. I knew that all along. But modern medicine requires me to pay a co-pay, set aside half a day, and pay hundreds of dollars for my family doctor to give my wrists a half-hearted look and tell me what I already knew.
I knew I should have been a doctor.............. :)