Listening: www.soulfulclassics.com – Classic R&B internet radio
Reading: The Time Traveler’s Wife
So, I had to schedule an appointment with a doctor, who in October told me that I should schedule it in March-April. He gave me a sheet of paper with my test results and at the top, a telephone number for the department.
I just thought I would share a bit with you – I call it “Fun with Blood Pressure and Health Care!” The blood pressure involved being mine, and not being the health concern, either. You’re welcome to follow along at home.
- February 25: Ring ring. Ring ring. No answer.
- February 26: No answer.
- February 27: “I don’t have his schedule for next month, call in a few days.” (Note to self: New month begins in two days)
- March 3: “Oh, the doctor is on vacation for two weeks. Call back later.” Can’t you just look at his appointment book?
- March 17: “He doesn’t have any more appointments left for this month. Call back the first few days of April.”
- April 4: “No, no no. We can’t schedule that appointment here. You have to call the toll-free number, make an appointment through them, get the test results, THEN call us for the appointment for the other part. Here’s the 800 number.” Shards of telephone splatter my lip as I politely hang up the phone, pretending it’s her head.
- April 4: Called 800 number, after explaining my situation to the person on the phone: “I’m not sure that we are the right people to call. If the doctor said to call them and schedule, and you have these previous test results, they should schedule it for you. We can’t schedule the second part, and they should be able to do both parts together.”
- April 4: No phone involved, but lots of cussing and a few tears. A few more calls that day with no answer.
- April 5: Sanity break. Denial of need of health care. Briefly considered flying home for said appointment. Reluctant admission that health problem best looked at and cared for. Agree with self to keep calling.
- April 6: “Yes, this is the right place, but we don’t have any more appointments for this month. You’ll have to call the end of April, early-May.” “Is there any way to get put on a waiting list?” “No, you just have to keep calling.” Maybe I can offer up my first-born child to them as collateral, yet I seem to have already promised it to Trenitalia. Merda.
- April 7: Screw it, I’m calling the hospital in Pavia. “We can give you an appointment May 30.” Sweet.
- Let a sleeping dog lie? Nope.
- April 27: Back to Milan: “Who? You can’t call here for this doctor, you have to call directly to his secretary to make an appointment” – gives number. Commenced slamming head on table, debated whether dialing numbers while slamming head would increase or decrease chance of success. Coworkers continue working normally as they are used to me by now, though one believes the bass-booming headphones she bought are really realistic.
- April 27: Decided not to risk and stopped the slamming. Someone answered on the second ring:
- – “Hello?” A feeble voice answered the phone. So far, so good.
- “Yes, I would like to make an appointment with the doctor.”
- – “What? He’s not here, he’s not in the hospital.” She doesn’t sound as hostile as the other receptionists. Or as lucid. Or did she say, he’s at the hospital?
- “Right. Is this the right place to make an appointment with the Dr.?”
- – “Um, I think, well, you’ll have to call back.” The cracks in her sanity are spreading like her gray hair. Go on retirement, lady, and give someone else a chance!
- “Is this the right number to make an appointment?”
- – “Uh, I don’t know. I’m just a guest.” Is it possible they gave me his home number?
Needless to say, I think I will take my May 30th appointment and treat it as a gift but you never know if I’ll be feeling sadistic in the future, and will make another call. I can pass you the number in case you don’t get enough frustration in your life.
After that disturbing story and general lack of faith in mankind, I’m giving you my own “unicorn chaser” – I’ll call it the Ms. Adventures in Italy “food-nature porn chaser” (FNPC) – look at the pretty house on the shore of Lake Como:
I am so sorry to have read your very disturbing and frustrating experience.
The idiots here in the United States are touting the European model of health care as “the” model to pattern ours after.
Please God don’t let it happen here…
As you have so beautifully written, socialized health care simply does not work…. except maybe in utopia!
Those in power or living the “rose colored” life are never exposed to the frustrations we mere mortals are confronted with daily. They just continue making laws that keep the rest of us body slamming the same tired bureaucratic walls.
I hope that you finally got your appointment and you are fine.
Glad your back !
The flip side of that is our experience. We were traveling in Italy in 2007 with a 9 month old suddenly running a 103 degree fever, didn’t speak the language and were on a train with no way to know which towns might have a hospital.
A local directed us off the train in Parma (i think) and even hailed a cab for us. The emergency room found us an interpreter, took us to the separate pediatric ER, and diagnosed (correctly we confirmed 30 hours later back in the US) an ear infection and a virus. We received a prescription, paid $25 (18 Euros) and were back at the train station in less than an hour. This was the most painless hospital visit we have ever had. What could have been a disaster was instead smooth and re-assuring.
In the US we would have spent half the day in the ER, been charged many hundreds of dollars (even w/ insurance) and been receiving paperwork and bills for months afterward. I’m not sure the Italian system is the way to go, but it’s not all bad.
David is right…in Italy you’re actually better off (if you can believe that) having a problem that requires emergency room care – really it’s the only way to be seen without going through that hellish process described above…and with babies, usually the hospitals dont’ mess around. straight in. Per fortuna.
J Rae says
In the states for 1/3 of our population the emergency room is the only place they can be seen for health care. Due to either no insurance or under-insured with extremely high deductables. With 50 million uninsured and another 50 million under insured we resemble a third world nation. At least alot of these people are polite enought to crawl under a bush and die I guess. Keeps them politely out of site of the conservatives who remind us that we should have been born rich.