(A post without pics. You will see why.)
There are good sides to being the daughter of a doctor; especially in my generation. You remember, back when you could call the doctor and he would come out to your house and see what was wrong. In small towns, the doctors had everyone in town as a patient from cradle to grave. They knew all the secrets about everyone. They had lots of personal information from which to draw, when they were doing their mental detective work of figuring out what the heck the problem was. They didn't have tons of technology but they had great physical diagnosis techniques. They actually looked at people, people without their clothes on....and touched them. I know, it's crazy to imagine such a thing these days when most docs don't even look you in the eyes when you're having a conversation, let alone have you take anything off.
That being said, I have been to several doctors of late and all of them looked me in the eyes and we had very nice conversations. No, none of them actually touched me except through my clothes. But this isn't a rant about modern medicine. This is a story.
Last week, while on a road trip with a friend, I suddenly developed a backache, for no apparent reason. It got worse throughout the trip. I thought I had overdone some weeding that morning, took some ibuprofen and went on with life. Friday it still hurt. Then it was the weekend. It got worse and other symptoms came to light, but no one does medicine on the weekend.
I won't go into detail but suffice it to say that by Monday morning I was in a lot of pain and took myself into the doctor, since I had to do some blood labs anyway, and left them a urine sample to test. I talked to the nurse's answering machine and said I would be in town for awhile to wait for the antibiotic because this had turned into a raging UTI. No word. I went home. By Tuesday, standing up was incredibly painful and walking was no better. I went to the doctor's office and begged to see the nurse or somebody; told them the story.
Nope. We'll call you when we get the sample back. I sat in Braums for three hours, drinking water and peeing. And then, suddenly I was just drinking water. Oh no.
I called my daughter, the nurse, and she said to "get thee to an emergency room", cause if you can't pee you're in trouble. Right. I knew that. (This particular Braums is right down the street from the ER). I knew what would happen, the office would call, once I had been taken back to a room and been checked. It happened. But that isn't the best part.
Here is the best part. When I came in, I was walking all hunched over from the pain. When the doc came in (she was maybe 32) she called me honey, talked really loudly, and patted me on the shoulder. Oh my gosh, she thought I was 83, what with the walk and the white hair and the UTI. It was funny, but not really because at that moment nothing was really funny to me.
She listened to me breathe, had me lie down, pulled a thick cover sheet up under the gown I was already wearing, and did a quick feel (through three layers of cloth) of my abdomen. I told her my back, out to the sides, hurt worst of all. No reaction. Luckily they could see the lab results on their computers (not a culture, just a dip). "Well now honey, you have a significant urinary infection." NO JOKE!) so she prescribed some a antibiotics. I hobbled out the door and the little guy who volunteers to drive people out to their cars in a golf cart came tootling over and took me to my car.
I don't remember driving to the pharmacy or home, but I made it and fell into the bed, moaning.
The doctor's office called that evening with the results of the blood labs. Everything was fine. She was very enthusiastic. Grrrrrr....They called again this afternoon to say they had the results on the culture and I had the wrong antibiotic. I told them my back was still killing me. This time they were very encouraging to me to come in on Friday, or before, if it got worse or was no better by Friday. She said, "Tell them who you are and ask to see one of us. Make them let you come back." Right. Now they're worried, now they are eager to see me.
The bottom line is this. If I'm in serious pain or really, really sick, I have to go to Urgent Care and see a doc I have never seen before, or a PA, or I can go to the ER and see a doc I have never seen before or a PA. I cannot get in to see the doctor who knows me and my history. There are too many screens between her and me. I doubt that she even knew I needed to see her to get some meds, until I was in the ER.
Sadly, one of the doctors I saw last week told me it wasn't as bad as it was going to get. I asked, " Do you mean access or quality of care?" He said, "Both". I'll let you know.