Doctor Who?

Yesterday I got a new doctor.

If you consult your Big Book of June Events, you’ll recall that I have some…trouble with keeping medical professionals. Doctors are my Spinal Tap drummer.

I was a normal person with one regular doctor when I was a kid. Mine was Dr. Heavenrich, and I’m telling you right now that as an adult, the thought, “I wonder how Dr. Heavenrich is doing” entered my head THE DAY HE DIED, thereby resulting in me killing him with my thought.

I liked his office. It was ’60s modern with those teensy rectangle windows way up at the top of the wall, a look we all thought was the bomb in 1968. Hey, who needs a real window? Who needs to see outside? That teensy crack of light up yonder should do it.

They also had these weird ring tones in the office. It was more of a chime. I’ve only ever heard that ringtone there and never again. Weird.

The point is, I killed him with my thought and then we were off.

The first doctor I can remember having on a regular basis once I was an adult (well. “adult”) was Dr. Sherwood B. Fyne. This was back in Seattle when you generally got those health plans that required you to have a primary care physician. At my job, a ton of us were in our 20s and had no doctor whatsoever except everyone had a clinic who gave us all our birth control pills.

So we all perused the catalog and picked doctors with cool names, even if they were, like, 47 miles from us. One woman picked Dr. Margarita Stabb. I remember being envious of that one.

Anyway, things were great with me and Dr. Sherwood B. Fyne until he died and changed his name to Sherwouldn’t B. Fyne. Thus began my new search for a physician.

I had several quit. Like, several in a row. So much so that I started calling my mother to tell her. “You’ll never believe who just quit,” I’d say. “Another doctor?” she’d guess.

When I got to LA, Marvin said, “Always pick a Jew. Jewish doctor, Jewish dentist, Jewish accountant.” It ended up being good advice, so I picked a nice Jewish doctor I liked a lot, who lived in my neighborhood and was sort of famous for his long walks around town. He was my doctor for a good five or six years until he killed himself.

‘Nother phone call to mom.

Everyone in my neighborhood took his death hard. A whole group of people dressed up in shorts and carried a folded newspaper and walked his regular route one day, to honor him, which was sweet. I hated to tell them all it was probably my fault.

Two not only quit their practice that served me, they quit the profession altogether. My mother started suggesting maybe it had something to do with me.

Eventually, I moved here, and my first disaster was with a doctor I selected who, when I got some weird results from a mammogram and had to go back for a second look, said, “Prepare for the worst.” He also made me get a $1,500 cat scan because I had migraines. We found a sinus infection.

We ended things quickly.

Right after that, I went to a group of doctors we’ll call Vulture Physicians. I mean, their real name is another bird of prey, so I’m not being that terrible. And in truth, I liked every doctor I worked with there. I say that because in the 9 years I was there, I had probably 10 doctors and physician’s assistants. This wasn’t just because I drive everyone from the profession, but because I surmised it was awful to work there. The front desk women, who were always sick, were really lovely people and worked there the longest. But nurses and doctors? Gone all the time.

Plus, no one worked there full time. If you called, went through their rigamarole of voice mail, paying attention because their prompts always, always had recently changed, according to them, you’d get a recording. “You’ve reached the nurse for Doctor Whoo Dee Whoo. The doctor is not in the office Wednesday afternoons from noon on.”

It was like that with every doctor you called. And it seemed like you always called on the day that particular doctor wasn’t in. So you’d have to press some number or another (pay attention, as our prompts have recently changed MAYBE STOP CHANGING THE PROMPTS YOU FUCKS) to get to the front desk, where the sick women were, who I’d like to say again were lovely. They were. Always helpful and nice to me.

Anyway, at the end of my sojourn there, I had two official doctors and one nurse practitioner I’d worked with, all because of the spotty way they had people available. I was okay with this, but here’s the problem.

When you’re a migraine person, they give you 9 pills a month. Nine. Some months, that’s enough. Some months, like this one, you go through 6 in a week. You aren’t SUPPOSED to, but if you don’t, you’ve lost a whole day to throwing up and feeling excruciating pain. Gee, which would you do? Take a forbidden pill or throw up and be at an 8 in pain level? Hmmmm.

One Friday a few months back, I woke up to half a pill left. And no refills. It feels like I never have refills. I think I should have to go back once a year, have them check me although god knows why because migraine is migraine and tons of women get them, but okay fine. Once a year. Then give me a year’s worth of refills.

It never seemed to work that way, though, and I’d be stuck with no refills and have to try to get in to see a doctor and of course the doctor would be off that afternoon, and the next one would be off the following afternoon and had no appointments, and the nurse practitioner would be full.

So that Friday morning, as I tried to head for work, first I called the pharmacy and it rang and rang. I called three times. Rang and rang. I had half a pill left and it was a Friday. If I didn’t get this prescription filled, I’d be in bed miserable all weekend.

Finally I called the grocery store itself. “Oh, the pharmacy doesn’t open till 9:15,” they told me. “I have exciting news for you!” I told them, “There’s this new thing called an answering machine. You can state what time you open so people don’t have to hear a phone ring endlessly like it’s 1972.”

The person at the grocery store told me I had to get my damn doctor to phone in the refill anyway.

Of course I do. Because why make anything easy?

So that is how I ended up calling my doctor’s office and getting banned from there.

First I had the labyrinth of please pay attention as our prompts have recently–oh fuck your goddamn prompts.

Then I had to listen to the outgoing message, because god forbid anyone ever just answers the phone like a human there. “Thank you for calling. You’ve reached the nurse assistant for Dr. Part-Time.”

Then, I swear to you, because I timed it, they talk for more than a minute. First they ask you to be sure to leave your name, the patient’s name, patient’s date of birth, patient’s need or complaint, and then I forget what else because they TALK FOR A MINUTE MORE, and by the time it beeps you can’t remember what the fuck all they want.

And the best part, THE BEST PART, is they’re sure to tell you that if it’s the day the doctor isn’t in, calls will be returned “on the next business day” AND, AND, refills will be addressed “in 48 hours.”

They also throw in the patronizing “if this is a real medical emergency, please hang up and dial 911.” Oh, THANKS. Thanks so much. I had no idea.

So let’s say you’re barfing because you have the world’s worst migraine. Is that a real medical emergency? No. If you go to the ER will you be hanging out with contagious people, fluorescent lights and loud children? Yes. Will you be there for 5 or 6 hours at least? Experience tells me hell yes.

So because this office is dying to make life convenient for the doctors and the corporation that owns said doctors, you have to lie around throwing up with a screaming migraine for, oh, all of Friday, Saturday, Sunday and most of Monday, because no one is on and refills will be addressed in 48 hours. You know they’re not including weekends in those 48 hours.

That is the mood I had going while all this was happening to me that day, and I’ve been dealing with this kind of treatment

for

nine

years.

That is why I might just possibly have yelled into the voice mail that day. That is why I might have used the F word, oh, once or 16 times. I told them how fucked up their system was, how annoying their outgoing message was, how inhumane it was to expect a person to have a migraine all weekend because no one could be bothered to refill my prescription all day Friday, and basically I was mad, is what I was.

Fortunately, I am related to a doctor, so I called that doctor and said, “Can I just get a goddamn refill for my migraines, please?” and he called it in like a normal person with a heart.

A few days later, I get a letter from Vulture Physicians. “Due to your inappropriate behavior, you may not return to the offices of Vulture Physicians.”

Oh, fuck off.

I mean, my first reaction was to feel ashamed. I really had lost my temper and you all know how my temper is. My family tells stories of small me stomping down the hall to my room, slamming the door. “I can just see your tiny self stomping down that hall,” Ned said to me once.

But then I thought about it.

NINE YEARS I was perfectly pleasant to them. The front desk, the nurse’s assistants, the doctors themselves all could tell you I was funny, I was considerate, I didn’t call at all hours demanding service or anything. I lost it ONCE when I had a MIGRAINE, and I lost it because their system sucks and is in no way geared toward the patient. And given their turnover, I can tell the system is even suckier than I can imagine.

So fuck ’em, I don’t fell a bit bad about being banned from an entire chain of doctors in my area. I wouldn’t be a part of their damn corporate bird of prey organization if you paid me.

My coworkers are awfully delighted. ‘Oh, did you go out to eat at lunch? I thought maybe you were banned from restaurants in town.” “Oh, your therapist hasn’t banned you yet?”

Oh, HARdee harr.

Yesterday I met with a new doctor, who had me come to his office and sit at a desk like in the movies. We talked for 45 minutes, and I go back in for labs and a two-hour (!!) physical early next month. I waited for him for five minutes before I was seen, and he apologized for that. I was honest about what happened with Vulture Physicians, and his response was, “That doctor has never had migraines, clearly. He doesn’t know what it’s like.”

God, I’m gonna miss him when he quits or dies.

 

 

51 thoughts on “Doctor Who?

  1. Getting banned from someplace because I said fuck 16 times into their voicemail sounds like something I would do. But really, that was ridiculous. I’d have been just as pissed as you were. In fact I experienced a similar issue with a doctor’s office who first would NOT return my call to send me for a blood pregnancy test, they finally called me back on Thursday returning my call from that Monday, and then when I finally got the test that evening and called my doctor’s office Friday morning, I was told everyone was busy and I’d get my results Tuesday. TUESDAY. If the fucks had BOTHERED to return my call on MONDAY, I could have gone for the bloodwork that night and had my results by the end of the week. Oh, I was pissed. It’s not a migraine but for a woman who has struggled with infertility, the emotional distress they caused was just completely uncalled for. Top that all off with my husband getting off work early one of the days I was waiting for them to call the bloodwork so he went down to the office and found my doctor sitting at the front desk twirling around in a chair, and he gave that doctor a piece of his mind. Still didn’t get a call until around noon the next day. I made an appointment with my fertility specialist after that and haven’t been back to that other doctor since.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Prepare for the worst”? This doctor met you and thought “I shall have to be vigilant about seeing that this woman be emotionally invested in her care. She is clearly unemotional about these things.”
    That is not a good doctor.

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  3. I’m thinking that all pediatrian offices were built that way by Mike Brady. Mine had the windows up at the top of the wall also, and the definite groovy vibe that remained in place well into 1982 which was the last time I visited. By the time I had my daughter in 1997 they had built a new building and guess what? Pretty modern except for the same 1972 windows!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dr. Heavenrich was a wonderful doctor, wasn’t he? Another thing about those “bunker windows” is that there was a park surrounding his office. It would have been nice to see that while waiting there. The building is still there and being used. It is across from my favorite bakery.

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  5. Poor guy. Did you tell him your track record?
    Like you I have a history with doctor’s. I was a military wife so that meant changing doctor’s every two to three years or if you went to the Navy Hospital you got whatever doctor was doing rotations at that time. It was like spinning the doctor wheel. You have a bladder infection let’s spin the wheel, oh today we have Dr. Captain Hooray who is an neurologist, let’s see what he prescribes. I would usually try to establish a doctor out in town for continuity. I have had Dr. Marble who diagnosed me with toxic shock before it became a thing. He was a sweet caring doctor who one day decided he would fly his plane into the ground. Then I had a father and son gynecology team, Richard and Peter Head. They were great and I was with them until they moved. Then there was Dr. Wayward who told me that there was no way I had been on my period for 2 years solid and that it was all in my head. I bled menses all over his floor but he insisted it was a figment of my imagination. There was Dr. Dillard who gave me a hysterectomy when I was 25 because he found 3 tumors which were causing me to bleed non-stop. He promptly put them in a mayonnaise jar and sent them to Dr. Wayward and called him an idiot. Then there was Dr. Kennedy who was a lovely man and asked me out to dinner in the middle of a pap smear. Then I had Dr. Noggin who was an endocrinologist who diagnosed me as a dwarf and it took me 5 years to get insurance again. Oh and there was Dr. Patel who was an internist. A perfectly lovely person who insisted on cleansing your energy before she treated you and then would spray Vodka on you. Should I keep going? Bad luck with doctors is what I have.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I got excited and prematurely posted. What I was going to say is that you should be June’s second in command for blog name ideas.

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      1. I have no idea. I am the world’s tallest dwarf. Think someone in his office miscoded the diagnosis and he was too big of an ass to change it. I argued with him and his office for five years to get the dx changed so I could get insurance. Evidently if you are a little person insurance companies don’t want to insure you. Well until ACA came along and they had no choice so they just upped our premiums by using the dwarf tax.

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  6. Hilarious recap! I hope new doctor lives until your physical date. Next month is a long way off. I can’t imagine what they could devise to do that would take 2 hours? Maybe I don’t want to know…

    I just got a new doctor because much to the annoyance of my old doctor’s office, I wanted to make things more convenient for me instead of calling and begging for an appointment that’s not (no joke) 5 months away. The last straw was when I was lectured for not planning ahead. My impression of the new doctor is reasonably good, I think, I had a lot of trouble concentrating because she’s a hand talker and I was worried she was going to take flight or create a wind turbine.

    Lovely post, pretty June.

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  7. I’m glad you have a new doctor. And I’m glad you told off the recording. MAYBE they will take the hint and make some changes?

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  8. Also, when I first moved to Tennessee I had a doctor who was good. Then slowly things started to get a little lax at his practice. He was never there, his nurse practitioners were the ones running the show, then he got sick and had a leave of absence, then he came back but still was hardly there, then he was gone so much the state revoked his license, then no one could get their medical records, and then 2 weeks ago he DIED. My records are still somewhere over in that building and I can’t get to them! Frustrating.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

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  9. I love my current doctor’s office. Have been going there for about 5 years now, because I moved to that office with my Primary when he changed practices. He has since retired and I now see a PA who I really like. My old doctor’s office sucked. The front desk women there were the biggest unpleasant and snappy bitches to ever run an office! (The only good thing there is that one of the doctors was named Dr. Harm.) So I happily changes offices. Have had no issues with the new ones. They are always responsive and helpful when I’ve called with any problems. They’ve seen me through two cancers and two cancer scares and all the biopsies, screening and testing that goes with that, and have been wonderful.

    The rest of my family, however, are still going to the old doctor’s office. My family is reluctant to leave this doctor’s office because we have a family member who works for them and everyone thinks they have an “in”. Well, their “in” isn’t able to get them as good of care as I get with no in! In fact, my nephew and his kids usually go to a First Care or Patient First type of office when they’re sick rather than to their Primary, because they are seen sooner and get better, more responsive treatment from a physician who doesn’t even know them, than they do at their Primary. That’s just sad. The family member who is the “in” tells us almost nightmare stories of how the big conglomerate medical company who owns the office treats all their employees (she was almost fired for having to take time off to care for her father who had a stroke and no one to care for him.). No wonder they’re all disgruntled. They’re treated worse over medical problems than they treat us! I totally understand why physicians and nurses are leaving the profession.

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  10. I’m going to miss him when he quits or dies. Flump!

    Marvin is right, Jewish doctors are great doctors. We have two specialists that are Jewish and they are so willing to give you samples of the Rx they prescribe in order to save you money. My husband is on a third med trying to find what works and the doctor has given us samples for all three meds. The other Jewish doctor was thrilled when I told him where we found a product he has prescribed cheapest at Walmart. His response he would pass that along to his other patients. They both are excellent doctors and we love both of them.

    My primary care physician has a REAL HUMAN that answers the telephone. Every time I call or go in her office I tell them how great it is to have a human, rather than a machine, to answer the phone. I love this doctor and her entire staff.

    I had a wonderful doctor that moved to Texas. I cried in her office. I left Dr. Cruella when he refused to prescribe something for pain after total hip replacement, but wanted me to drag myself into his office. I was furious! I found another doctor, but in the meantime, I recovered from major surgery without any pain meds because I couldn’t take what the surgeon had prescribed for pain when I left the hospital. I found Dr. Hippie, who was in practice with her doctor husband, and really like that practice. I left them when they stopped accepting my insurance. She was also my mom’s doctor and I had to find her another doctor as well. My next doctor was a great doctor, but she abandon her practice and left the country because of threats against her. I cried, a lot when she left. But the NP and other doctor in the office have opened their own practice and they are the office that have humans answering the phone. I’m very happy with them.

    Sounds like you might have found a good doctor and the fact he spent 45 minutes talking with you is a rare thing.

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  11. I had the best doctor in the world, but they fired her. I always figured it was because she annoyed the corporation with her dedication to the patient. She was always pro-patient and these days, that makes corporate health unhappy. I don’t have children (infertility) and she had a nurse who sent me a lab result slip in the mail telling me that I was pregnant. I was beginning to get past my emotional pain of infertility (late 40s), so I was calm when I told her about it. But I did point out that if I had received that notice in my 20s or 30s, it would have been truly traumatic. She fired the nurse. I loved that doctor so much.

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  12. My dermatologist retired, and my dentist, and my GP. The crowning blow was when my optometrist retired and was replaced with a young woman who graduated high school with my daughter. Get off my lawn! I hate those stupid call 911 messages with a fiery intensity. Why do I get better, faster service from our vet?

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  13. I don’t know how cursing at an answering machine hurts anyone. They can just delete it like they apparently do all their other messages. This one sounds like a winner, June. Let’s hope he sticks around long enough to find a solution for your head.

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  14. I don’t know if anyone else suggested this, or if your doc would do it, but my neurologist made my prescription for more than the 9 pills per month because I told her I sometimes need to take a second pill the same day if the pain returns. Whether or not it’s true for you, you could try that. I too often take more than two in a week because if you have a magic pill that will take the pain away, you take the magic pill. And I often have migraines that go away and come back the next day for a week or more at a time. I had a doctor once tell me I should “suck it up,” when that happened. I have a new doctor now but I didn’t kill him. I just wanted to.

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    1. My pain doctor at Stanford also told me to “suck it up”. He refused to give me pain meds (I already had them from my neurologist) and then fired me for being “non-compliant” for continuing to take them when I felt like my head was exploding. I went to a different pain doctor who said Stanford is at one end of the pain spectrum theory while most doctors are at the other end. Apparently they are notorious, meanwhile I was sobbing because I wasn’t able to
      “Suck it up”. Screwed me up for a few years and send me to therapy. Ugh, doctors. Bad ones can really screw you up

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    2. I hate when a doctor tells you to suck it up. They tell you that because they can’t figure out how to treat you and make you better. They feel like a failure and blame the patient. I can’t take opiods or NSAIDs so I am basically screwed when it comes to pain. I had a doctor give me a script for an anti-seizure med and when that didn’t work he told me I needed to go see a psychiatrist because the pain was all in my head. NO SHIT DOC! It’s a fucking migraine. It is in my head but it isn’t made up.

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  15. June, sing it sister! BCBS won’t even pay for one of my migraine meds. They now give me 12 pills a month (yippee!) but make me leap thru flaming hoops every time I get a refill. My neurologist is wonderful, thank goodness. She only takes headache patients and also has migraines herself, so she can relate.

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  16. Keeping my fingers crossed that this is the beginning of a long relationship. I get 4 pills every 5 days. Even if I don’t need it right then I get my refills every 5 days because my neurologist’s office takes FOREVER to refill. This poor woman has full time hospital duty (whatever it’s called) for two weeks a month so she only sees patients two weeks a months. She personally has to approve all refills so you’re screwed. I learned to stock up.

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  17. I get what they’re saying re migraine meds, because of course the more you take, the more you’re setting yourself up for rebound headaches. But they clearly don’t know how bad it gets.

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  18. My last dentist supposedly broke his hand doing some renovations to his basement. At least that’s what they told me when I went in for a cleaning and there was a substitute dentist working for him. I later found out he had been arrested for child endangerment and domestic abuse. My guess is that he punched something in anger. The day he came back from breaking his hand, he had a heart attack during his lunch hour so then he was out for another few months. I also found out he had been arrested for drug possession. He sold the practice so now I have a new dentist. But the former dentist was super cute and always smelled yummy so I do miss that part.

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  19. My doctor joined a VIP thingy where the patient pays $1600 per year to keep doc on retainer. None of the $1600 goes toward visits. He now only has 400 patients, giving “stellar” care. Longer visits, yadda yadda. So my 81 year old mom , 60 year old me, and my sister are finding new docs after a lifetime in this practice. What the hell ?

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  20. I rarely go to the doctor but when I do, I am glad that they’re all female and cool in the practice. Even the older ones are cool. The 18 year olds are cool too. The women who work the desk are nice and friendly. Now none of this was the case ten years ago, they all were stressed from the reception desk staff to the doctors. I can only attribute this newer excellent care to the youth of the new doctors and the new way of dealing with patients and the patient experience. My OB/GYN office is the same way. Cool, caring female doctors and a nice patient experience every time. Even the orthopedic clinic I went to for a knee injury and arthritis was very decent and quick and thorough and there were mostly dudes. I feel very lucky now after reading other people’s stories. I wish all the other non-medical places I went to practiced the same quality of customer service. It’s definitely an all-person-for-themselves world out there anymore. It’s frustrating and draining.

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  21. I haven’t had any doctors die or leave but I’ve had my business banker go to prison for embezzlement and then the second replacement banker who we liked got fired for alcoholism. The third banker was a little prick, he even looked like an actual little prick too, not kidding. Ever see a face that looks like a prick (well other than Steve Bannon’s face)? It’s weird. Fortunately a banker from a competing bank approached us and we made the switch and have been very happy with this cool younger banker and the local bank since. And I swear I’m not being mean about the third banker! Other people thought the same thing. Poor guy. Gawd, I hated him.

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  22. This post is awesome. I once went to a dentist to get a basic filling and the dentist a colossal jerk, very condescending and rough, so I left a bad Google review later that day. A few weeks later the filling started to hurt, and although I didn’t want to go back there, I thought he should pay for his mistake and fix it for free. When I called to make an appointment, the front desk told me they’d seen my bad review and I was not allowed to come on their property ever again, and flat-out refused to fix whatever was wrong with the filling (which is against the law for them to do that, if I remember correctly). The weird thing is, I had left that review under a pen name, not my real name, so they would have had to do a TON of digging online to connect a crapload of dots to figure out who left that bad review. Um, instead of spending all that time obsessing over their Google reviews, why not spend it actually being good to patients who would in turn write good reviews? Or exercise good customer service and ask me what they could do to make things right so I’d be inspired to remove the bad review on my own and replace it with a good one? So stupid. Worst dentist I’ve ever seen in my life. Fortunately, after that I found a really excellent one who was super nice.

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  23. My child’s first pediatrician went by her maiden name, which was a very good idea because her married name was Paine. “Come on, kids. We’re going to see Dr. Paine today!” Probably not a good idea.

    I’ve noticed the more signs I see in the lobby, the more issues an office has. I went to an office for a physical and the grumpy old nurse tossed one of the forms in the trash before the doctor walked in. It was clear she didn’t think I needed a physical and I was wasting her time. During the appointment, the doctor kept searching for something. At one point she threw something away and discovered the form — which was what she’d been looking for. My next appointment I saw a different doctor who never touched me and in less than two minutes, determined I needed to see their specialist at another appointment. I declined. That short visit was very pricey. My insurance said they’d pay if the coding was corrected (it was wrong), but the office refused. Suddenly, all of those stupid signs about billing and paperwork that I’d seen in the lobby made sense. They were a bunch of morons. I never went back, but I did have to pay that ridiculous bill.

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