November 19, 2019
“An arrogant person considers himself perfect. This is the chief harm of arrogance. It interferes with a person’s main task in life – becoming a better person.” – Leo Tolstoy
I know I’ve said it before, and I know I’ll say it again, but as a rule, I f**king LOATHE doctors. Not as much as I hate say, corn on the cob or lima beans, but pretty damn close, nonetheless. This disdain by the way, isn’t limited by what branch of the medical field they represent, I find the majority of them, if I were to roughly paraphrase a Klingon rake named Korax, to be: “swaggering, overbearing, tin-plated dictators with delusions of godhood.”
And those are typically their good qualities. As I’ve dealt with my various Diabetic-related health issues over the last two decades, my initial sanguinity that doctors were people to be respected has eroded to the point where I’d rather be trapped in a city full of *Train to Busan-type zombies, for they at least, would keep you on your toes, focused, and running forward. Can you imagine? Your current cardio workout would look tame by comparison.
*[Train to Busan is a 2016 South Korean zombie movie, whose plot unfolds on a passenger train to the city of Busan, as the Undead take over and start infecting the passengers as if they were missionaries. Onboard Trump fans would need not worry though, as zombies like to eat brains.]
Normally, I just grit my teeth and deal with it, because I have very little choice in regards to my options, especially within the framework of the capitalist Ponzi-scheme masquerading as the American healthcare system, and even more so now that I live in such a small town. Doctors here are hard to find, and even harder for this town to keep. Whether it’s wanting to earn more money, or the grind of small-town boredom, every time I get a new doctor, it’s as if I’ve rudely interrupted them while they’re in the process of loading up a U-Haul to get out of Dodge before *Tom Horn himself enacts his merciless revenge upon the townsfolk.
*[Thomas Horn Jr. was the epitome of the word “badass”. Working as a scout, range detective, and cowboy, he also had a stint as a Pinkerton agent in the Old West. He was alleged to be solely responsible for 17 killings while employed as a hired gun. After being convicted of the murder of a 14-year-old sheep ranchers’ son, he was executed in 1903 by hanging, which is also the worst way for one to try and cosplay being a Pinata, hands down.]
Granted, this general dislike I have for medical professionals who follow the Hippocratic oath as well as Donald Trump follows his marriage vows, naturally doesn’t extend to all the doctors I’ve had over the years, just a good 90% of them. The majority either being useless, clueless, or as I noted previously, thinking they’re God, despite not looking anything like Barry Gibb in 1977. Since I’ve moved here a little over a year ago, I’ve had more doctors than I can remember or even count, poking, prodding, questioning, and removing more fluids from me than adult film star James Deen could expel in a lifetime, but unlike him, I can’t really brag about it on the Internet.
Not to mention, it’s always delightful when a doctor who makes Gwyneth Paltrow look humble, decides they don’t need to apologize for being unprofessional, rude, arrogant, and in an act guaranteed to enrage the nicest diabetic person of Germanic descent, being late as f**k for a predetermined medical appointment. Ironically, there’s actually a German word that sums up how I’m feeling right now about such physicians, and that word is “backpfeifengesicht” which when you roughly translate it into bad English, comes off as “a face that is badly in need of a punch”,
For sake of clarity and future legalities, I would never advocate violence as an alternative conduit to reasonable discussion, I’m just saying there’s been many a time in my life, when I’d also gladly tie one of these white-coated oracles of obfuscation to the back of a sand-crawler, and go driving through a rock-filled cactus patch for a few hours or so. However, as I’ve noted more than once since I relocated to this idyllic burg outside the town of Silver City New Mexico, I tend to be way more laid back and accepting these days in relation to how I handle, if not cope with, my inherent stressors as of late. The concept of *mañana and all that.
*[The meaning of which is “in the indefinite future”, or for those of us who live In New Mexico, as the time between when you need something to happen, and the time when you die.]
In fact, when I’ve written about living here, outside the noting of my health issues, I’ve been presenting as being on the edge of singing Kumbaya, as I drink a whole gallon of *Kombucha. I know… it’s been freaking me out too, and I don’t get spooked easily. Angry Wayne I’ve been told, is apparently not as emotionally disquieting than Happy Wayne is for some reason, and he’s been laying dormant pretty much ever since my left foot was partially amputated. Sure, I have gotten annoyed if not outright vexed, from time to time, but overall… I can’t get that mad when I literally live inside a Norman Rockwell calendar, no matter what minor annoyances get up in my grill.
*[Kombucha is a fermented, slightly intoxicating, bubbling, sugared tea drink commonly imbibed for its alleged health benefits. A wide range of seasonings are often added to improve the taste of the drink, although the best way to enjoy this abomination of food evolution is to throw it as far away from oneself as possible, preferably into the mouth of an open volcano, or one of those wool-cap wearing hipsters you always see at Whole Foods.].
But that base of Zen may have shifted somewhat, because somebody out here finally pi**ed me off so much, I went and filed an official complaint about them afterwards. This action was undertaken after what I can only describe as a personal encounter so unprofessional, it may have snatched the coveted and long-held “Bitch of the Galaxy” title out of the ham-fisted hands of former PHX New Times Editor, perennial Phoenix basher, and human analog toothpaste tube, Amy Silverman, which is no mean feat, let me tell you. So, who’s my newest in-town human scratching post?
That honor goes to Dr. Virginia Hernandez, who just celebrated the shortest tenure of any of my doctors, that being less than eight minutes, which ironically, is the same amount of time that I believe she’s spent practicing how to wear that human suit in public. Now, I’m on no level saying she’s not qualified to be in her position, nor am I suggesting for a moment that she came by her medical degree by the luck of opening up a box of Cracker Jacks and seeing it laying on top, shining like a jewel, far from it. I’m just saying that as far as patient interaction goes, you’d probably get a far warmer and way more professional reception from Dr. Josef Mengele, than her.
Mind you, this is just my take on the situation at hand of course, because despite my obvious joke, I really don’t think comparing those you dislike to Nazis is appropriate. By comparison after all, your stereotypical Nazi is usually efficient at scheduling their time, and if the Gestapo was ever known for one thing, it was obviously their sense of humor, to quote the sardonic film JoJo Rabbit. I’m just saying that if one possesses all the charm of a sandpaper-wrapped tampon, then perhaps a career in the healing arts should be strongly reconsidered. But as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me set the scene and the tone of where I’m coming from.
At the moment, and for quite some time beforehand, my life has been revolving around doctors, waiting rooms, and sheer physically embodied frustration. Let me put it this way, it’s really hard somedays to tell who’s been waiting in the doctor’s lobby longer, me or that tattered copy of Time magazine featuring our newly-elected President, Bill Clinton.
Odds are, it’s me. If there’s one maddening constant in the world of chronic illness, it’s that all waiting room magazines are either outdated, represent a weird niche such as neon swizzle stick collecting, or are so desperately macho in tone that one can grow a mustache just by glancing at the cover… sideways. Failing that, if there’s a TV present, it will always be tuned to the worst of the right-wing claptrap or one of those “Dr.OZ” type shows, which push blatant quackery as scientific fact. And just to make sure you know your place, your doctor will ALWAYS be at least 45 minutes late for the appointment they mandate that you be 15 minutes early for, or if you have to cancel, demand that you provide at least a 24 hours’ notice, lest you face a penalty fee.
And if you complain about this treatment, they can arbitrarily dismiss you as a patient, and leave you in the lurch, with no consistency of care, and suffer no ill consequences for their behavior whatsoever. Oh, and as to the value of your time if they cancel? You aren’t getting compensated for that. How dare you even suggest that you should be, peasant. Nice racket, huh? The Mob kicks itself daily for not thinking that set of rules up.
I often like to say that if any other business worked this way in America, we as a society would burn it down, using the perpetrators of such fraud as the starter kindling. And just maybe, we should start doing just that, sooner than later. Think about it- is there any other business where you pre-pay for a service, have to wait an hour on average for it to even start, and have no definitive say over the quality of the amenity you receive? Why is it your average McDonalds staffed with only 3 people can handle over 50 customers with different needs in twenty minutes, but a fully staffed doctor’s office can’t efficiently manage 4 patients over a goddamn hour?
Here’s a small piece of advice, medical industry- take some of that money you unethically grifted overcharging my insurance company for your services, and hire office staff who not only know how to schedule realistically, but also doctors who don’t try to cram a 40 hour week workload into two six hour days. That’s a freebie from me to you, and I won’t even ask for praise regarding it. In the case of the aforementioned Dr Hernandez, our first face to face went South faster than Richard Spencer does when he hears a public statue of Bedford Forrest is being removed.
I arrived early, waited an hour, and when finally ushered in, was tersely told by the nurse that my doctor to be “always runs late”, and that “you should have been told this when you made the appointment”, without so much as a feigned apology for the delay, because that’s the way to show you’re on the ball, right? Just tell the patient from the get-go that your employee in service has no regard for other people’s time, and that they’d better not bitch about it.
Speaking of bitches…
As I walk into the examination room, I inform the nurse that it was now close to an hour past my pre-determined appointment time, and that the doctor had five minutes to get in and do her damn job before I walked out, something I can tell you she did not appreciate, or even give the merest of concern about. She then states that I also need to see the office’s dietician and my future insulin pump trainer on my way out, a visit they could have enacted while I was sitting on my ass for close to an hour, twiddling my thumbs in their beige waiting room, but why do anything close to using common sense when you can crash and burn in a pointless attempt at attaining efficiency?
When Dr. Hernandez eventually saunters in, two things are immediately obvious, the first being that her resting bitch face game is strong, and second, she really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, likes herself. Don’t misunderstand me, I like to think that my narcissism is on a par with Gene Simmons, but even I occasionally like to notice there are other people on the planet from time to time. It makes going out to dinner and a movie that much easier, as you all well know. On the positive side, she was having a good hair day, so there is that. But to be fair, you’re not ever going to mess up your coiffure with an errant hand when you’re regularly using both of them to pat yourself on the back.
When I ask her what the holdup was, there’s no apologies, but I am let’s say, treated to what essentially could be classified as an unsolicited oral presentation of her professional resume. To wit, I am haughtily informed, although I didn’t ask, how she “teaches residents”, is not “a 4 to 5 day a week doctor”, how she may “leave for a better paying gig tomorrow”, how “nothing in life is certain”, how all I’ve done “is complain”, capped with the end question of “what do you want?”, because it’s completely up in the air as to why I would be hanging out at a doctor’s office on a lovely Thursday morning. So, through teeth that are slowly grinding themselves flat, I inform this caustic wench about how I am seeking a *“consistency of care” in this town, and illuminate upon the fact how nice it would be to see the same doctor more than once, as I ask her what she needs me to do to get our new relationship.
*[The concept of Consistency of Care essentially states that a stable uniformity in respect to one’s healthcare from beginning to ongoing management is crucial. Unfortunately erratic, if not wholly inconsistent service among most practitioners is perceived and rightly so, as a major flaw within the incorporated American Healthcare system.]
At this point, she starts moralizing to me about how I’m being rude and disrespectful to her staff, for as I’ve noted, as a patient, I’m not allowed to feel marginalized or irked by their inability to do their job, and she lets me know that if I don’t like it, well… I can always leave. In the business kids, we call that a “cue”, which I am more than happy to accept at face value. And by the by, nothing fills me with supreme confidence more than when a doctor I’m supposed to establish primary care with, enters the room with no documentation or first questions about my medical history that she should have at least taken a cursory glance at in the first place. Honestly, the only reason I think she even knew my name was because it was on that day’s money for nothing call sheet.
Top notch attitude there, Doc. Nice to see that combination of a Caribbean education and Illinois residency is paying off so handsomely. After all, a medical degree from the Caribbean-based St. Matthew’s University, impressively listed as 7,878th in the *world, and a residency at the 460th ranked best medical school in the **United States, is nothing to blithely sneeze at. It’s also nothing to be really excited about either, but at least the argument can be made that she did indeed, learn the basics well enough to qualify for those nifty “MD” license plates that allow you to park anywhere on the theory your skillset might come in handy at some point.
And while I have very little truck with the issue of her stateside residency, I will note that the majority of most Caribbean medical schools have an alleged shadowy reputation for being both “second-chance” for-profit degree mills, and for accepting almost anyone who can cough up the cash to attend. If you want to educate yourself, search out the topic on the Web, and enjoy the widely disparate reviews regarding her alma mater. In my experience, she apparently didn’t have enough scratch to cover the elective “bedside manner” course of study, and trust me, it shows.
Now as I wrote earlier: “I’m on no level saying she’s not qualified to be in her position, nor am I suggesting for a moment that she came by her medical degree by the luck of opening up a box of Cracker Jacks and seeing it laying on top, shining like a jewel, far from it”, I will note however, that graduates in order to be licensed to practice medicine in the United States, have to adhere to the rules set by the *Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) which requires students to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), otherwise that degree they just earned isn’t worth squat.
I don’t know about you, but if I had just spent a few years working my butt off to graduate with a medical degree and wasn’t allowed to use it without even more additional testing to prove my very expensive education took, I’d be madder than a frozen hen, just saying. It almost strikes that the requirements for passing med school in the Caymans might fall a tad bit below the standards set for an American one. Weird, that.
Anyways, as I walk out, I inform Dr. Do-little-to-nothing that she isn’t getting paid for this waste of my time, an opinion that doesn’t sit well with her one bit, and causes her to follow me down the hall, testily noting to the receptionist at its end that all I did “was complain”, implying that no matter what she said or did, I should be billed regardless, and turns briskly on her hooves… sorry, her heels, in the direction of the next unfortunate tardiness victim she most likely refers to as her “malpractice insurance payment.”. After flipping off her rapidly retreating back with an unseen gesture, also known as a New York City wave, I then very nicely, tell the receptionist there better not be an invoice issued, as I will be calling my insurance company, and ask if I can now see the dietician they wanted me to check in with.
As I await a positive answer, she instead introduces me to an administrator named Nick, whom she obviously paged during my very brief hallway dust-up with the doctor, and he very quickly and competently, directs me into his office where he swiftly takes down my full statement and apologizes profusely several times about what just happened. At the end of all this, he asks me if I’d like to file an official complaint, which I do, He then goes one step further, and sets up a future appointment with a brand-new doctor, which is scheduled two days after the official meeting with my insulin pump educator, whose name is Hannah. After getting that off the plate, he then walks me over to Hannah’s office, introduces us to each other, and then leaves. By the way, Hannah for some reason, reminds me of actress Chyler Leigh, who starred in “Not Another Teen Movie” as Janey Briggs, an aspiring artist who is outcast by her classmates for wearing glasses, a ponytail and paint-covered overalls.
Turns out, Hannah’s nice, bright, and possesses a quality I tend to find really sexy in a doctor, that being she’s also Diabetic, which is a huge time saver regarding conversation when you’re one too, Not going to lie, my attention span is going to be greatly helped by this quirk of fate. You have no idea. So, after a very friendly back and forth laying out a rough treatment game-plan and my answering a ton of health-related questions, we part on a hopeful note, with my feeling secure that my upcoming training is in good hands. Granted, it’s kind of terrifying to think I’m going to be part cyborg, but it still beats having a doctor who’s fully embraced their transformation into such.
The Hippocratic Oath, first established in the country of Greece, “requires” physicians to swear that he or she will uphold a number of professional ethical standards. In fact, the creation of the Oath may have assisted the early stages of medical training by requiring unquestioning loyalty to this strict code. Conflictingly to popular belief, It does not openly contain the phrase, “First, do no harm,” which is commonly attributed to it, and it also has reworked often over time, in order to suit the values of the modern medical profession. For those of you who’ve never read it, here it is, with a few notations aimed at Dr. Hernandez:
I swear by Apollo the physician, and Asclepius, and Hygieia and Panacea and all the gods and goddesses as my witnesses, that, according to my ability and judgement, I will keep this Oath and this contract: To hold him who taught me this art equally dear to me as my parents, to be a partner in life with him, and to fulfill his needs when required; to look upon his offspring as equals to my own siblings, and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, *without fee or contract; and that by the set rules, lectures, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to students bound by this contract and having sworn this Oath to the law of medicine, but to no others.
AB: * Well, this rule was obviously chucked out the window first…
I will use those dietary regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgement, and I will do no harm or *injustice to them.
AB: * Such as say… insulting them, and leaving them in the lurch, for instance?
I will not give a *lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.
AB: * Apparently though, I can in theory, prescribe you a ton of addiction-forming opioids, so we’re in the grey here regarding this one rule… just saying.
In purity and according to *divine law will I carry out my life and my art.
AB: * In other words, obey the Laws of God, but don’t assume you’re him just because you do, ok?
I will not use the *knife, even upon those suffering from stones, but I will leave this to those who are trained in this craft.
AB; * Instead, I’ll just demand that everybody should give me respect that I haven’t earned.
Into whatever homes I go, I will enter them for the benefit of the sick, avoiding any voluntary act of impropriety or corruption, including the seduction of women or men, whether they are free men or slaves.
AB: Since doctors no longer care enough to do house calls, this one can be taken off the books, I feel. And if they want to get it on with the owner of the house in the manner of an 80’s porn video, who am I to judge?
Whatever I see or *hear in the lives of my patients, whether in connection with my professional practice or not, which ought not to be spoken of outside, I will keep secret, as considering all such things to be private.
AB: * No offense, but why would I share anything personal with my doctor? They barely care about their patients to begin with.
So long as I maintain this Oath faithfully and without corruption, may it be granted to me to partake of life fully and the practice of my art, gaining the respect of all men for all time. However, should I transgress this Oath and violate it, *may the opposite be my fate.
AB; * One can only hope, but you’ll most likely get promoted, as in my experience, the profession tends to protect its own.
There’s an old retail adage known as “The Rule of Ten”, that claims for every dissatisfied customer there’s nine more who feel the same, but never speak up, past family and friends, that is. Still, this is a very small town, and word travels fast here. It’ll be interesting to see if her arrogance can keep pace with this fact and outrun it. But what do I know? I’m just an eternal patient after all, and as we’ve all seen, our words don’t count to begin with.
“You may not be able to read a doctor’s handwriting and prescription, but you’ll notice his bills are neatly typewritten.” – Earl Wilson