Tuesday, January 17, 2006

If I ran the world...

(I need to preface this with a disclaimer – I had a terrible appointment yesterday morning which just reminded me of every awful doctor's experience I've ever had.)

I wish that the medical profession was more service oriented. If it were, maybe things would run more like this:

- On-time appointments would be publicized like Northwest Airlines advertises it’s on-time flights.

- Friendly receptionists and nursing assistants would be the norm, not the exception.

- The little rooms, that the doctor visits you in, would be stylishly decorated, heated and filled with current, intelligent reading materials and snacks.

- Medical practices would not be overbooked, and understaffed, thereby allowing each person directly dealing with patients a chance to read the appropriate chart prior to meeting with “customers.” This would eliminate repeating the same information, that has already been written on at least two different forms, to at least two different people.

- Doctors would all be required to find a bedside manner. Bedside manner defined as: good listener, able to ask open ended questions, sincerely empathetic, speech at a conversational rate – not an auctioneer’s rate.

- Follow up information and appointments would be taken care of by a health care concierge. This person would start a file for you. They would have neatly written notes of everything the doctor told the patient. Any follow-up appointments would be made for the patient. (I have three follow-up appointments to make after yesterday’s appointment, as well as a video to watch about my new medication.)

- Hours for appointments would start as early as 7:00 AM, if the office closes at 5:00 PM, and/or they would go into the evening. This would allow, and encourage, more people to schedule medical “maintenance” into their lives.

I made a promise to my mom. She insisted that I schedule a mammogram. She started asking me to promise her that I would go do this back in October. I kept putting it off and she kept pushing me. I finally scheduled a physical with an internist for mid November. Since I extended my trip to Minnesota, when I was caring for my mom while my dad was in the hospital having heart valve replacement surgery, I had to cancel the appointment. It was on the Monday morning that I was returning to work after two weeks absence. I didn’t think it was appropriate to take off any more time. My mom understood, but continued to push me.

I had my physical this morning. I got weighed. This really got things off to a great start. I have gained back a lot of the weight I lost on Weight Watchers this summer and fall. I blame my busy schedule and my mother’s last months, but I think I just can’t keep up the healthy lifestyle thing. It’s really hard. For my body to stay at the weight I like requires extensive exercise with limited caloric intake. I’m not sure I’m up to doing that forever.

I asked for a mammogram. “Any history of breast cancer?” “How old was your mom when she had it?” “How’s she doing now?” It was a fun conversation.

The doctor looked at my back for abnormal moles and freckles. Just my luck – she found two. “Have you ever had a sunburn?” What kind of question is that? She told me to go find a dermatologist. Now I'm thinking about melanoma.

I also need to have my cholesterol checked.

I came home and cried in Chris’ arms. I’m feeling better now, but between my mom’s death, waiting for my follow-up MRI and the implications that may go along with that, the new “dermatology” issues, some unsettledness at work and the weight gain – I’ve just about had it.

I wish someone would invent diet rum to go with my diet coke. I really think it would be the magic elixir I’m looking for.

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