April Fools Day, 2013. Of course. That’s also the day I got my official “you’ve been laid off” phone call from IBM. I was on the train going to jury duty in Sacramento at the time. This year I was in the doctor’s office in Pueblo, Colorado when he said something like, “you have cancer cells in your prostate”. This was after going to him because my PSA level had increased. That was the only symptom, so I wan’t really expecting bad news.
But, like Monty Python said, “no one expects the Spanish Inquisition.”
I’ve not freaked out, but somehow I’ve attained a calm and kind of rational perspective on all of this. I mean, I’m seventy years old, for Christ’s sake and you have to expect some problems with the body when you get into ‘advanced years’. As I thought when the doc told me, the old Rabbi said, “It could always be worse.” True.
I think the most disappointing part of this, at least to date, is the muddled manner in which my local health care providers are handling it. I have had to take charge of setting up my own referral appointments to specialists. The local folks don’t seem to be organized sufficiently to be both effective and pro-active.
Case in point: I also need to see an endocrinologist about my over active thyroid. My local doc took me of my thyroid medication last year – bad for the liver – but failed to follow up with referrals or other medications. Now, the thyroid is worse. OK. I’m seeing his assistant now, who is much more direct and proactive. She set up the referral. But, after a couple of weeks, I had no action, so I called in to check. Well, it seems the order for the referral didn’t make it into the ‘system’. Could have happened, could have been an excuse for someone dropping the ball. I’ll never know. So, they were to get on it and call me back with the info. A few days later, nothing. I called again. The assistant told me she was researching doctors and would send a referral to one.
I waited a couple of days, then, having not received a call from the endocrinology office, or my local providers, called in again. My local people had faxed the information a few days previously. I got the name of the endocrinologist office to which they had made the referral and called them. No, they hadn’t received the faxed materials. I made more calls and got this sent again. OK, they could schedule me in three months. Not good enough, I told them. I have to get the thyroid dealt with before I can proceed with cancer treatments. Too bad, they said. We’re booked up.
I turned to the internet and located an office in Denver. The doctors are all board certified and had good experience and recommendations. I call them and suddenly I began getting help. I explained my situation. The admin person got me an appointment, not in July, but in early June with the expectation that, once my medical materials were reviewed, they could likely get me in earlier than that. I shifted back into my project manager mode and made sure the Denver office received my medical information from both my local providers and the urologist office that same day. A few days later, the Denver office called and scheduled an appointment only two weeks out.
If there is a moral to this story it is to take charge of your own health care. No one is more interested in seeing that the right things happen in the right sequence and as quickly as required than you are.