Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Change

Coming from a family that considered most illness a product of a weak mind, I find doctoring problematic.  Luckily, my side of the family also inherited an incredibly good genetic disposition -- only two incidents of cancer on either side of the family (neither of the type normally caused genetically), folks who lived well into their 80's without a lot of medical supervision and with no incidence of debilitating conditions. Of course, they frequently died with "feeble minds" but that's another problem caused by longevity. 

Consequently, I have trouble dealing with doctors and my own medical situation.  I clam up, I don't ask questions, I nod in agreement no matter what is said to me, and I won't "tell" if things are bothering me.  I don't want to be considered a "complainer" or a person who is too weak to accept a little "inconvenience."   

I've learned a lot from my sister-in-law in Houston who is very pro-active about her medical conditions.  I've often been the spokesperson for Hubby during the last five years of his treatments for problems caused mainly by unrelenting high blood pressure.  So I've gotten better when facing my own doctor.  I go with a list of the meds I want renewed and I advocate for them.  I am pretty good about explaining that I have trouble with high blood pressure and cholesterol pills -- and even though I have both conditions the pills make me so sick I just can't take them.  The work-arounds that I have for these medications are all I'm willing to use.  I also take in a list of questions, if I have any -- to make sure I cover everything I want to talk about.  I still have to read from the list -- but at least I now will ask about most problems. Not all though, because I don't want to be a whinny baby. 

During the 1990's I went without insurance. I mainly used Planned Parenthood as my referral base.  Eventually they connected me to  Goppert Clinic, at that time over on 76th and State Line, which well-served the uninsured without a huge stigma attached.  I remember once going in to an imagining center in Johnson County for a mammogram and having the receptionist, scream out, "YOU HAVE NO INSURANCE?  OH MY GOD!  HOW WILL YOU PAY FOR THIS?"  The entire waiting room waited with bated breath while I screamed back -- "With cash!" And yes, I did complain about their attitude, for all the good it did me. 

But Goppert broke up after three years of wonderful service.  All the physicians left and the clinic was sold and moved even closer to my home base -- just three blocks away, over on Troost.  Then it became a training clinic with only interns on staff and the patients were shuffled from one doctor to another.  Each time I went in, I found I saw someone new.  This only exacerbated my difficulty dealing with doctors.  Finally I just quit going.

Eventually age, and employment that provided insurance, forced me to look for a doctor.  I decided I might have an easier time with a woman. I found one -- and stayed with her for two years.  I wasn't exactly pleased but she was the one who found me alternative meds for high blood pressure that worked very well. She also thought that alternative meds were the answer to most physical problems.  It was just to new age holistic for me. Then, with the high-end school district insurance, I carefully reviewed my options and switched to another woman doctor in a well-respected clinic close to home.  She's worked out okay, as along as I had my list of concerns to talk about.  It's just that, well honestly, I don't really need much doctoring at the point in time.  I need meds renewed in a good and proper timeframe and mostly to just be left alone. 

After Hubby had had the aneurysm, we knew that no matter what, we only wanted to be treated at Research Hospital, so I have choosen only doctors that served there.  Interestingly, Hubby did NOT have a doctor in 2006 when he had the aneurysm.  On admittance to Research, the neighborhood hospital, he was seen by a wonderful physician that we grew to love -- Dr. Durham.  This guy was everything that Hubby needed -- and interestingly he was a resident associated with my original clinic -- what had now become the Goppert Trinity Family Clinic, run by Research, the now-defunct Trinity Lutheran Hospital and Baptist Memorial Hospital -- all of which merged into Research over time.

Hubby has stayed with Goppert.  He's been through three doctors now. When Durham graduated into private practice, he tried two or three others until he got sick with the A-Fib heart problems, and then we were visited on rounds by Dr. Espirtu and we requested him as Hubby's doctor.  Three years later he is now seeing Dr. Patel whom we met just this summer and really liked.  The clinic knew Hubby was not an easy patient and went to great lengths to make sure Hubby had someone who "would communicate with him." 

September 1 of this year I became a Medicare patient.  No longer associated with the Blues, it seemed that this was time for me to make the switch back to Goppert Family Care Clinic. They do so well with Hubby -- and as a Medicare patient I get real discounts on meds which, at this moment, is really all I need to maintain.

I dithered.  I worried.  I actually had to call and make an appointment.  How long would I have to wait?  How long would I be on hold just on the phone trying to make an appointment?  What doctor would I get assigned to?  How many questions would I have to answer? Would the last of the meds from my old doctor hold out until I could get new ones? 

Finally yesterday I called.  These guys now have doctoring down to an art. No wonder Hubby has been so pleased with them. The phone was answered on the second ring. The person who answered did NOT switch my call but immediately set to work making my appointment. She was so efficient, she had my medical information before her while I was still trying to say I was a new patient.  How did they know me?  I'm not sure, but they did -- my previous doctor is just two floor above them?  Are the computer systems connected? 

She also had Hubby's information.  She knew who his doctor was.  Did I want to see him?  Yes, I liked him.  Did I want to come in this week?  Yes, I really did - let's not put this off.  I was given options -- one of which was to come in with Hubby at the same time on the same day he was scheduled for a check-up.  Okay, that would work just fine.  Here's what you need to bring with you -- Medicare card, ID, list of meds.  See you soon.

We were done in under 2 minutes.  No personal questions asked except why I needed the appointment -- which was for an annual checkup and med renewal.  The woman made me feel like they were delighted I had re-choosen Goppert for my health needs. 

I've met the doctor already,  I like him.  He takes time, he answers questions, he looks you in the face, he asks if you have more questions.  He waits patiently while you dither through explanations, not trying to hurry you.

Yes, the clinic is incredibly busy.  They see patients from all walks of life -- it's like being in the United Nations in the waiting room.

They are associated with the hospital we have come to trust with our lives.  They work well with Medicare patients and they understand when you are on a "fixed" retirement income.  They are connected with great referral services throughout the city (witnessed by Hubby's heart clinic). 

My medical treatment now comes full circle. I'm feeling confident enough to discuss my own medical problems -- if I actually had any at the moment.  Arthritis in my big toes?  Grin and bear it. 

2 comments:

Donna said...

Wonderful!

Margaret said...

Sounds very good to me!! I wish I had that level of medical care.