June 4, 2010

Fact Is Better: Bedside Manners Are for Wimps

After a very long spell of not getting sick – no flu, no colds, not even a sniffle in over a year – I got violently ill. I called my general practitioners office and told them everything that was going on. “Maybe I’m being a big baby, but having not been sick for so long, I’m a little worried.” So were they. They scrambled to try and fit me in so that my hunky doctor could examine me, but they couldn’t. “We really hate to ask this, but could you go to the ER? We really want you to get looked at.”

After much hemming and hawing, I finally went later that night.

And had the worst hospital experience of my life.

Worst Doctor Ever: *I was sitting in the examining room for a good half hour before the annoyed looking doctor walked in.* “Yeah, so, what’s wrong with you?” *looks at the chart and rolls his eyes* Oh, you think you have strep or mono or something. Great.
Me: “Um . . . yeah. You just jumped right in there, didn’t you? Anyway, um well, so I’ve had a violent headache and back . . .”
WDE: *interrupts* “Any sneezing, coughing?” *looking down at the list of symptoms I’d already told the nurse that were already listed on the file*
Me: “. . . ache. No. No sneezing or coughing. Like it says right there, I have massively painful and swollen neck glands, my throat’s been scratchy, I’m overwhelmingly tired. I’m parched all the time and I’ve lost my appetite. Which is a pretty big red . . .”
WDE: *interrupts with a heavy sigh* “Yeah, okay. Got it. Runny nose? Congestion?”
Me “. . . flag. And I haven’t been sick in over sixteen months.”
WDE: “So no congestion? Okay. Um, you ever have chicken pox?”
Me: “Yes. Like 12 years ago. Not really sure, y’know, why that matters . . .”
WDE: *heavy sigh* Great. *has me open my mouth and say “Ahh”* “Oh, wow, you have no tonsils. Hunh, that’s weird.”
Me: *trying control my agitation* “I don’t think it’s that weird, but okay.”
WDE: *heavy sigh* “Were you exposed to anyone with strep recently?”
Me: “Finally a good question! Yeah, actually. It was . . .”
WDE: *heavy sigh* “Just great. And how long ago was that?”
Me: “Um . . . like . . . um five days ago.”
WDE: *massive eye roll* “Yeah, look, I don’t feel like doing this. We’ll just call it ‘strep exposure’ and give you some penicillin. And listen – if you don’t get better – don’t come back here. Like, really. Just go to your regular doctor and have him swab you for mono or something.”
Me: “Okay, but a quick question before you go.”
WDE: “What?”
Me: “Do they no longer teach bedside manner in hospitals? I’m just . . . ya know . . . wondering.”
*turns and leaves without another word. A half hour later the male nurse – build like a grizzly bear, by the way – comes in with my discharge info.*
Grizzly Bear Nurse: *sigh* “So, here’s your paperwork. You are highly contagious and shouldn’t be around people for forty-eight hours. And here’s your penicillin – you’re going to take one every six hours. You’re also . . .”
Me: *I stop listening and look down at the prescription. It says – in very big handwriting – to take “500mg of penicillin every 12 hours”*
Grizzly Bear Nurse: “. . . and plenty of . . .”
Me: “Yeah, hey, listen, not to interrupt and all, but am I supposed to take the penicillin every six or every twelve hours?”
Grizzly Bear Nurse: *looks at me like the dumbest person he’s met* “What?”
Me: “Well, you’re saying six hours, but the prescription – that your upstanding doctor wrote – says twelve hours. So . . . I just kinda want to know which it is.”
Grizzly Bear Nurse: *he looks down and rolls his eyes dramatically* “Yeah, I didn’t really know what I was doing when I walked in here, so let me go verify with the doctor.”

True story.

I honestly couldn’t make this up if I tried.

Further proof that fact is better than fiction.