Since I roundly trashed a medical practice last week, let’s talk about some good medical stories. Because this is the time of year where we end up going to all our doctors, and this is more typical of our experience.
A dental hygienist was telling me about one of her clients who schlepped in for her cleaning after a divorce. She was emotionally exhausted, but she explained that she’d just gotten a rather nice settlement in the divorce and, according to the hygienist, was going to remake herself from the ground up.
“The whole works,” said the dental hygienist. “A boob job, a tummy tuck, a personal trainer, hair makeover, new wardrobe — everything. While she was here, she consulted the dentist about dental implants and got a referral for an oral surgeon.”
Six months later, the woman comes back for her next cleaning. The hygienist says to her, “Mathilda! You look great!” The makeover was stunning, and the woman looked totally energized. “How’ve you been?”
As the woman was settling into the dentist’s chair, the hygienist saw the records for the oral surgeon in the folder, and she said, “I cannot wait to see your implants.”
The woman said, “Oh, they’re amazing!” and then lifted her shirt and flashed the hygienist with her new boobs.
The hygienist yanked down the woman’s shirt. “Dental implants! Dental!”
Moral of the story: You have to be specific when talking to someone who has had a total body makeover.
At my checkup, the doctor asked about my jogging and then said, “You know it’s not normal to gasp and wheeze while you’re running, right?” I said, “Well, that’s just leftover from when I had asthma as a child. I outgrew it.” She said, “You don’t outgrow it,” and prescribed me an inhaler.
Now I know that when normal people run, they can actually talk. This changes everything. That’s why people run in pairs! It’s a social activity.
Anyhow, we now have an example of the “medical cascade,” where one intervention leads to another, because when I was able to breathe I could run longer, and when I ran last Monday, I injured my ankle. Back to the doctor’s office. She says it’s not serious. Take ibuprofen.
Me: I was reading the drug interaction precautions. It says to call up your doctor if you throw up a substance that looks like black coffee grounds. They need to tell people that?
Doctor: You would be shocked. The things people live with for years that would have you running in the street, screaming for help.
Me: That’s ridiculous.
[Awkward silence as the doctor regards the patient who ran around Angelborough with asthma for a year and then limped around on what might have been a broken foot for a week.]
Me: Um, so, yeah. Can I go biking?
Moral of the story: If you throw up black coffee grounds or live frogs, call your doctor. She’ll probably tell you to discontinue taking ibuprofen.
Me, calling the speech therapist: I just wanted to let you know Kiddo2 loved you and was making good progress, but I can’t work with your office manager.
Speech Therapist: But…is there anything we could do about this?
Me: I’m too old to deal with that degree of passive-aggressiveness. What happens the next time something goes wrong?
Because I realized: if the office manager had no intention of lifting the no-show charge, why call me? Why not just send a bill? My credit card company doesn’t call to let me know I’m getting a bill. The only reason to call was to engage me in drama. Well, guess which one of us doesn’t like drama? And guess who refuses to give it to her? Most office managers would have said, “Okay, I’ll look into whether it was really our error and get back to you.” But with no intention of backing down, why call?
I have no need to deal with someone like that. But the speech therapist now knows why she lost a client.
Moral of the story: I wish the office manager all the drama she desires if that’s what makes her happy. But with her boss, not with the clients.