Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cat Herding, Doc Wrangling...

The first signs that maybe I had the wrong gastroenterologist were sitting in the waiting room when I arrived for my first appointment. The magazines. High-end car, travel, food, and wine magazines.

As far as I'm concerned, one of the primary reasons for the existence of magazines like People, Entertainment Weekly, Us, etc., is to entertain patients who are patiently waiting for their doctors. Especially doctors who set their watches according to
different time zones (their own personal top-secret time zones.)

The absence of said magazines glaringly obvious in a doc office. Worse, the actual presence of food and wine magazines in the office of a guy who treats people with gastrointestinal issues is sadistic. Wrong. Twisted. Did I mention sadistic?

I'd been eating oatmeal 3x a day when I first got to his office. And instead of trivial b.s. about someone's newest ta-ta enhancement, I'm stared in the face by his hobbies, few of which I can afford. Or stomach. Literally. Ever tried to drink wine with severe reflux? C'mon, just go to that triple-word score Scrabble volcano (aka Eyjafjallajokull) and fix yourself a tall glass of molten lava. The physical sensation is the same. I assure you.

When I met the guy, the first thing I noticed is that he has a really nice tie. From that moment on, every time I had a negative thought about him, I added "but he has really nice ties" to the end of it. Keep things on the positive? Hell, I don't know.

Oh, and he's a positive guy. Optimistic. Some might say annoyingly cavalier. After the first visit, he took notes, handed me a scrip and sample meds, and assured me that this was oh-so-simple and these meds would have me feeling fabulous and eating like a queen before I knew it.

At my next visit, he seemed shocked that his magic pills hadn't made a darn bit of difference. So he scheduled an endoscopy, assuring me that the beauty of such a procedure is that you can get immediate answers. He made it clear that he'd talk to me after the procedure and since I'd probably be a bit loopy from the meds, he'd give my transportation all the details as well.

Imagine my surprise when I awoke to "oh, he already left." Wha huh? And my greater surprise when I called his office and was informed that they should have my biopsy results by mid-next week. Wha huh? Biopsy, he hasn't even mentioned that concept.

Thus began a weeklong mental tailspin on biopsy. Most of the time I could let it go. I'll get the information when I get it. I can't do anything without the information anyway. Yadda yadda yadda. I have honed that skill pretty sharply, but I still had my moments of "They don't do biopsies for sport."

Next follow-up: He again seemed shocked that his miraculous meds still hadn't solved world peace within my gut. As he babbled on about a few other things, I actually had to ask about the biopsy results, to which his answer was "biopsy doesn't always mean cancer" before he said all was clear.

I will admit it now. That vow of nonviolence I had to take when I bought the Prius? Damn near broke it right there. And then what, I'd be driving a damn Escalade as penance. Close call.

The fun has continued to give me plenty of blog fodder.
He still has the deer-in-the-headlights look every time I return without saying "I just ate a steak and a bunch of jalapenos for lunch and boy do I feel fabulous." He assured me that the blood sugar swings I was experiencing where a logical combination of the gastroparesis with my diabetes. Um, I'm not diabetic. "Really, you're not? Are you sure?" Even then it took another 3 weeks to order glucose testing. (Survey says, hypoglycemia...)

Apparently he's of the school of thought that if you sit on something long enough, it will hatch into a magic bunny. He sat on my disability paperwork. One month, no bunnies. When he did send in the form (after missing the deadline and getting calls from both me and my company's HR department), he checked No as response to whether I'd been in the hospital or ER, and he forgot to include the secondary diagnosis of hypoglycemia. Uh, oops.

The latest? According to the benefits people, he corrected the ER and hypoglycemia information on the forms, and... set my return to work date at some point in 2011. Say wha?

Meanwhile I'm trying to get another doc. Got a great recommendation, but this one doesn't want to take on another doc's patient and wants me to see an even more specialized specialist. Called the uber specialist (in San Francisco) and booked his first available appointment -- which is in August. Heck, maybe I can catch a Giants game while I'm there.

Somehow, most of the time, I'm taking all of this in stride. I've adjusted to a lot of the symptoms and am getting better at figuring out how, what, and when to eat to maintain something resembling a normal day. And if you ever need a really nice tie, I know who you can ask.

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