I don’t want to name names because the medical field is small and I don’t want to scare away competent doctors. But I also want to share how happy I feel after firing my doctor!
In the last post, I think I mentioned how frustrated I’ve been with the lack of proper and full advice regarding what I can or cannot do. It’s too late 12 days AFTER the surgery to tell me (only because I asked) that a certain action is not good, when you’ve told me all along to move my arm! How am I meant to know what “move” means in this context?
So, in the afternoon yesterday, after having felt so rushed by the doctor as I was trying to understand the parameters of what is safe and what is not that I even texted my friends that I felt teary afterwards, I thought again about the advice to, “Take it easy, don’t lift anything for six weeks but move it every now and then.”
“What about driving to my post op appointment? That involves using my arm. Would that be too much movement? Nobody said I should not drive… Does that mean it will be ok? Or will I damage something because the elbow will be moving more than ‘now and then?’”So I sent a friendly email asking if it’s advisable to drive myself if not having had pain meds, or keep using others to get me there.
I got a phone call from the receptionist. “Doctor says you must stop asking questions. He is in theatre and you must stop asking. He said you can drive, depending on how you feel, but remember, you can’t drive with only one hand, that’s not safe.”
That is LITERALLY what this woman said.
What does that even mean?? Why would I be driving one handed if it’s ok to drive? And what does depending on how I feel mean? Physically? (They themselves told me I’ll be in pain for a very long time..) Or mentally? (Feeling brave enough to drive?)
And also, what in the world!??? It’s not like I phoned the theatre or the hospital he was operating in. It’s not like I called his cellphone. I didn’t even TEXT his cellphone. It’s not like in my email I told her to go ask him that very minute. So why was she telling me he’s in theatre so I must stop asking questions?
More importantly. Who else beside the surgeon would know the best way to preserve his handiwork and keep it from getting messed up? Who else should I get advice from regarding my health and making sure nothing gets damaged other than the one who is trying to fix me?
I told friends and promptly burst into tears. You know when you have been attacked for doing what is right? The injustice hurts. The confirmation of the feeling I had had while there physically also hurt. The rudeness. The belittling and demeaning. He wasn’t providing a free service. This is my money paying. My money to get good care.
So I sent emails out to other doctors. This time I didn’t care whether they were in my medical aid network or not. I’d rather scrimp and save and pay more than my monthly medical aid payment is already taking, and get good care from someone they won’t pay, than to be abused and treated like dirt. Treated like I’m being a pest.
At the same time, we know how the medical world is. Too many patients are sue-happy. No doctor wants to work where someone else has already worked in case something goes wrong and the patient blames them.
So, in my emails, I made sure to tell them that I would not sue, I would not blame… I just wanted someone who cares about the outcome of my treatment as much as I do and would please take over my care.
This morning, I decided that instead of waiting first to hear if someone would take me on as a patient before leaving this practice, that I’d leave anyway. I checked the law out and found out I could pay for copies of my medical records if need be. And I also looked around for wound nurses in case no doctor agreed to do the dressing change and check. My wound care nurse then told me she retired this year. She was a blessing!
I told the practice via email and sms to the doctor, how I feel. I told them that not a single person I’d spoken to thought I was being ridiculous in asking the questions I’d asked, and in fact, that they were the unreasonable ones. I told how my other surgeons have always given me instructions before I even asked. And I also mentioned how my hand surgeon even set up a physiotherapist who was there the day of the operation, advising me.
Then I blocked them because I knew they would try and convince me otherwise and that I didn’t want to repeat what I’ve already said. Why would I go back where I’m treated like trash? Not anymore. I’m no beggar. They phoned my husband. Didn’t help. I refuse to engage any further. As I told them in my email, I will not be asking you any questions, just as you requested, unless it’s to ask for a copy of my medical records.” Why be asked to go back where I am not allowed to learn how to care for myself? Where they allow me to do what they turn around and say are harmful activities?
I didn’t respond.
And I waited on tenterhooks for a response from a surgeon. But also looked around for other wound nurses as I knew the chances of a doctor having pity on me were extremely low. A White 60 year old friend who had offered to drive me there and go make a fuss gave me the name and number of a wound nurse.
One surgeon responded positively! I’m pretty sure he would not have known it (My name is common) but it was the very doctor who did my hand surgery in early 2020. He is the only one gracious and brave enough to take me and help me! Not only am I grateful, but because he’s treated me before and only money kept me from using him again, I know for sure that I’ll be in good hands this time.
And of course yes. I thought of an article someone sent to me on medical gaslighting. Research not only found that women were treated worse than male patients, but that women like ME are treated the WORST. And the doctor and his office lady are as far away from being like me as possible.
Are they like with every desperate patient they have? Or just..?
I hope nobody else has to experience it whether they are like me or not. And I’m thankful, so thankful, that I have a well-qualified surgeon to take care of me -who also doesn’t look like me -in two weeks’ time. (He’s away next week and the sweet office lady made my day too. No talking down to me like I’m an imbecile. Her voice actually almost made me cry from relief and being heard.)
If I ever need another surgery, I’m hoping it’s next year. We are changing our medical aid plan. Never again do I want to be forced to see one specific doctor because the plan only covers one doctor in a hospital they cover. From next year, I’ll be one of the extremely privileged (Guilt!) who can virtually use any hospital and any doctor, AND will have my glasses or lenses covered up to a high amount EVERY year, and will finally have psychologist, speech therapist, occupational therapist, counselor, biokineticist and a much higher percentage of our monthly chronic meds covered. Yes. It means we pay much more than we are now.😅
But if you got extra money and were in my situation, you’d also put all the extra into your and your family’s physical and mental and academic (not sure how else to describe the kind of health derived from the therapies my children will be getting) HEALTH.
Thankful for this brave and caring professor of hands. Find him at Vincent Pallotti Hospital. I may not always name and shame, but I’ll certainly praise. Especially one I know so well already.