My recent medical experiences have made me a bit cranky.
Today, I called to find out how long it will take to replace my port, since someone has to come pick me up. At the beginning of the call, I clearly explained that I was having my port replaced and that I needed to know how long it would take.
Medical professional: "Are you getting a port or having one taken out?"
Medical professional (Sounding incredulous): "Both?"
Me: "Yes, I already have a port and it has stopped working. I'm having it removed and a new one put in."
Medical professional: "Have you talked to someone about this?"
(This is where Tim, when I was relating this, said, "No, it was just an idea you had. You thought it would be fun.")
Me: "I have talked to C. Many times."
Me: "The procedure is already set already set up. I just need to know how long it will take."
Medical professional: "Well, putting in a port takes three hours. Taking one out usually takes half an hour."
Me: "OK. Thanks. I'll say that they should pick me up 3.5 hours after surgery."
Why did that have to be so hard? Why couldn't she just answer me?
I'm starting to become very annoyed with questions that are pretty much irrelevant to the medical professional involved. Just like the nurse who insisted that I couldn't possibly be on Herceptin, the questioner did not need to know any details. The appointment is booked. I'm having the procedure. Just tell me how long I can expect to be there.
I know this sounds a bit pettty. And I do want to say that 90% of the medical staff I've dealt with over the years have been excellent. I've just lost patience with the ones who don't even seem to try.
I wrote a list of "Do's and Don'ts for Medical Professionals" a few years ago. I know that it's been included in at least one package for medical students. Here's another I would like to add:
Don't assume that the patient is wrong.
Of course, common sense is required here. It's best to double check before running a test or administering drugs. But even that can be done in a way that acknowledges that the patient knows something about her own body, medical condition and experiences.
When I first met my surgeon last year, he asked me why I had asked for the MRI that found the tumour. I explained that 30% of women with Her2+ metastatic breast cancer go on to develop brain tumours.
The doctor turned to his student and said, "See? That's why I say we can learn from our patients."
Now, that's what I'm talking about.