Sunday, August 13, 2006

Doctor, That's My Foot in Your Ass

I finally have a few minutes to sit down and write about the last few days.
Ever since my wife gave birth, she has been having trouble with a "plugged duct."
Every doctor we have seen since day one has told her that it was a
plugged milk duct.
"Don't worry. You just have to keep feeding him."
"Put ice on it."
"Put heat on it."
"Make sure you really press down on it until it's bruised. That will help get it out."
Now my wife and I were very concerned as she was getting worse and worse. We decided to go to the doctor and wouldn't leave until we got a straight answer.
During her pregnancy, we decided the baby would be born at North Memorial Hospital, because it's only five minutes away. To make this easier, we decided to go with the doctors at the Oakdale Clinic, which is part of the same hospital. Now there are seven doctors that, depending what day you go, switch off.
Doctor H is the head of the clinic now, and she is the one we have seen the most often. This is a woman who may be totally brilliant, but has no beside manner. Now my mother always told me that the colder a doctor is, the more brilliant they are likely to be. This woman is an ice queen, so she must be the best doctor ever. Or I would have thought before this.
Back to the point, on the particular day we went, we saw Doctor L. In a total reverse from the normal thinking, the men at this clinic are very nice and competent, while the women at the clinic are stone cold bitches and don't necessarily know what's going on all the time. Doc L told my wife she would need a sonogram.
One trip to the hospital later, the doctors tell her, "We have no idea what's wrong, but it's not a plugged duct. Of that I'm 100% sure."
We return to the clinic. Doctor H looks over our stuff and says, "It's a plugged duct, pure and simple."
When my wife and I protested, she told us that we were, "overreacting." It's never good when a doctor tells you you're overreacting.
"My sister-in-law had an abscess. Could this be an abscess?" my wife asked.
After a giant sigh, we were told, "No. You don't have the symptoms. Please...quit overreacting."

It's NEVER a good idea to have someone, especially a doctor, tell someone not to overreact when they have a burning sensation and a lump.
Twenty-four hours later, my wife can barely move. The pain is too great. She goes to urgent care where the doctor there tells her, "Oh...hmm. That could be an abscess, but the top part is a boil. Take these antibiotics."
My wife asks the doctor, "Can't you lacerate?"
"No," she is told, "We don't do that."
Wait...doctors don't do that...at urgent care? What's that sir? You cut your finger off? We don't fix that at urgent care.
That night my wife cannot do anything but cry. She's in way too much pain. I am already tired, and now I'm pissed off. I call the clinic and, in my not-so-nice voice, say, "Look, my wife is in so much pain she can't stop crying. She needs to see a doctor...NOW!"
I get her an apointment with Dr. K. He's the other guy on the staff. My wife comes in to the office, Dr. K takes one look at her breast and says, "Yup, that's an abscess. Why didn't you get this taken care of?"
She relates the story to this point to him, and he says, "Oh...ummm...yeah...See this doctor (Doc M)."
After another night of taking care of my wife and my son, we go to Doc M for "the procedure." Basically, he's going to lance my wife's breast and drain it.
Now, the first thing he says to her is, "Oh, you went to urgent care...why didn't they drain it?" This causes me to grumble.
He drains the surface and then his face forms a frown. "Wow, this is DEEP! We're going to have to cut this open and drain it."
Doc M goes on to explain that it will be a simple procedure. They will make an incision, drain the breast, and then she'll be on her way.
We trudge over to the hospital (we're parked over at the clinic), and my wife is checked in and given a room.
It's a closet with a bed.
We wait an hour. The doctor is doing another surgery and isn't sure when he'll be in. My wife is almost bawling. She's really hungry, engorged, and her breast is burning ("It's like a branding iron was broken off in there," she tell me).
When they wheel her out, I am kicked out of the room. "This will take twenty minutes," Doc M tells me. "Go get your wife's medication.
I walk all the way over to North Clinic Pharmacy.
Now, I
already wrote about this at MN Speak, but the pharmacy gave me the medication without even looking at my ID. Here's the deal:
Imagine a guy walking up to your counter carrying a child and two bags. He looks like absolute hell. In a bag that looks nothing like his, he pulls out a prescription and says, "I need this filled please." He then hands you an insurance and pharmacy card with a name that cannot possibly be his. Would you fill out that prescription no questions asked? Well, they did. No questions. They just handed it to me and told me to be on my way.
It's at this point that the low point of my day starts (that's right, it got lower). As I walk out of the pharmacy, I am carrying:
My son in a car seat
A diaper bag
My wife's purse
My wife's meds

I figure I can shoot up to the car (it was on the fifth floor of the clinic), drop off her purse and meds, and then get back to my wife in time for her to be out of surgery.
After dropping the stuff off at the car, I get in the elevator and start down to the first floor to walk over to the hospital.
The elevator stops one floor above the tunnel.
"Going up?" a gentleman asks me.
"No, down. Sorry," I reply.
The door shuts, and the elevator takes off...up! Both my son and I are not prepared for this. He wakes up and puts his arms out, while I grab on to the railing as we are going up very fast. We hit the sixth floor and hear a clunk. Not a "the elevator is stopping" clunk, but more of a "and now you're going to drop and die" clunk. The elevator clunks again and stops. Suddenly the alarm button lights up...and the elevator drops. We go very quickly back all the way down.
My first thought is, "Oh hell. I'm going to die in an elevator...how droll."
The next thought? "Ok, when I hear the fifth clunk, I'll have to jump and hope I time it right."
Luckily, the elevator slowed down at the bottom floor...but the doors wouldn't open. I put my son down, and forced the door open. We weren't all the way down. There was woman standing in front of the door, and she just stared at me. Never asked if she could help, just looked on slack-jawed trying to figure out what the hell I was doing getting out of an elevator that wasn't all the way down.
I ran back to the waiting room. As soon as got there, my son started crying. He wanted to eat.
What is it about a crying baby that brings out people's true personalities? I cannot help that my son started crying, and I did everything I could to keep him quiet as I warmed his bottle. How does telling someone, "I have enough annoying me at this point. I don't need YOUR crying baby," make the situation better.
I got lucky again. The guy sitting next to me was an older gentleman who told people to shut up. After the third person gave me a dirty look and made a comment, he said, "Look, we were all babies once. We ALL acted this way. Go back to your own business."
Half way through feeding my son, the doctor came out to take me back. I couldn't stop feeding Poozer, or he would start crying, so I finished feeding him first.
My wife looked terrible when I got back there. She was pale, and out of it due to the anesthetic they gave her.
"Mr. Leab?" a nurse asked.
"That would be me," I replied.
"Your wife can't drive and can barely walk. Here is a list of the things you need to do."
So, beyond just taking care of my son, I would now have to help my wife.
I walked all the way back (taking to stairs to get to the car after my elevator ride didn't go well) and picked her up. When we got home, she passed out. So did Will. I couldn't. I had to prepare bottles, my wife's meds, and her dinner.
That night I slept only about an hour, but I was functioning.
The situation, however, got worse the next morning. I had to help my wife shower and change her dressing. The gauze was IN her breast. We had to slowly peel it out. Then we discovered, much to my wife's horror, that Doc M had not made it clear what "an incision" meant. Her breast had (and, though healing, still has as of tonight) a quarter-sized hole in it. She freaked out. How could anyone not. It was a hole in her body that a finger could fit in. That's insane!
I managed to calm her down.
As of today, she's getting better. I'm just glad my parents were scheduled to visit this weekend anyway. It allowed me to nap, which I needed.
I'm pissed at the doctors right now. Let me run the laundry list:
Can't agree on the diagnosis
Horrible bedside manner
Vague or unclear on procedures
That pretty much covers what is angering me right now. I haven't slept much, but I have become a master bottle feeder to my son. That first night was horrible. Help my wife, help my son, help my wife, help my son, (take a breath) repeat.
This experience has just reinforced my feelings about doctors. There's a reason it's called "A PRACTICE." No one has all the answers. That's just how it is. I'm still shocked about picking up the prescriptions, I'm glad my wife is feeling better, and I'm hoping for a break here in the future.
Then again what do I know? I'm the guy who told a doctor to "rethink how you talk to people." I could be wrong.

9 comments:

J.P. said...

Dang.... Tell Mrs. Leab I hops she is feeling better... Hope you and Poozer are doing well too. I will agree though doctors are very unbelievable sometimes...... Well hope all is well. Take care Leab.

Admin Worm said...

Leab, I'm glad they finally did what seems to be the right thing.

I try to cut doctors a break. I know they deal with a lot of weirdos...that they have litigation issues lurking around every corner...that they're given six minutes with each patient during which to diagnose their malady...

That said, there's no excuse for allowing your bedside manner to go by the wayside, especially when a new mother is in blinding pain. I'm surprised you didn't slug some of them.

I found a doctor I love and will stick with her 'til the bitter end. She actually listens and doesn't look at her watch during appointments.

Good luck to you and the family. Thanks for taking time to post.

cat said...

I agree with admin worm, if you are lucky enough to find a good one, DO NOT STOP going to him/her! I also have a wonderful Dr. if you are looking, please let me know and I will get you her information for your wife!

I am VERY happy that she is FINALLY doing better and the problem is solved.

Also, thank God you made it out of that elevator without Poozer or you getting hurt. How scary!

I hope things get better quickly for her and things go good with you and poozer.

Robb said...

Leab, I went and read your entry over on MNSpeak.

...Then I read the comments.

I am now ofically afraid for the entire human race.

Joshua said...

My grammar and punctuation is far from perfect, but please don't let it distract you from my message...

Being the husband and partner-in-study of a medical student wife (at St. George's University in Grenada) I can already see negative changes in her behavior and attitude that the rigors medical school have encouraged.

Professors teach without emotion - students learn with apathy. They become licensed MD's and their bosses force unsafe numbers of patients through their clinics on a daily basis...

I've seen plenty of med students arrive here with noble intentions to help their fellow man - and after the first semester their hearts begin to harden. By the time they reach rotations, the only thing they are concerned about is the competition amongst eachother - NOT the welfare of the people they originally wanted to help!

You enter the school wanting to help - you study in the school and worry about your competitive GPA - and leave the school worried about your $250,000 student loans.

There's just too much information out there for one person to know all of it - and to be able to look at a patient for 10 minutes and know exactly what they're dealing with...

Too much of medical education is textbook based. Even clinical rotations are cold and stale... I don't think med school alone can be blamed for harsh/unattentive doctors - it begins at HOME. Doctors who grew up with no manners and bad attitudes will exibit the same qualities in the clinical setting.

Leab said...

But see, I think you're hitting the crux of the problem.
Time.
Insurance companies and hospitals make it so you see someone and have to be quick.
My wife's doctor was scheduled at five minute intervals.
How are you going to see every single person in five minutes? There is no way a person who is pregnant can have everything done in five minutes.
I blame insurance companies, the competition in schools (which is insane), and in some ways home life.
My wife's former roommate was a bitch BEFORE she went to medical school. She wants to work with children (pediatrics). There's no way. You cannot be a cold-hearted doctor and work with kids. I want my doctor to be blunt but not sneer at me when I ask questions.
We have talented doctors, but the problem, as a friend puts it, is this: The best doctors...are private practice...and too much for you to afford.
Ain't that the truth?

Mom said...

One revision in a comment from your Mom -- doctors shouldn't be cold technical, but surgeons probably should be -- their job is different, and it really does seem like the best ones are superb technicians but not warm and fuzzy. Your experience in general really makes me wonder if everybody in Minnesota should be going to the Mayo Clinic for everything.... Your wife's experiences have been very bad, and that shouldn't be. If any of your readers have really good doctors that they like, they should let you know who they are....

cat said...

I made the offer Mom... my Dr. is REALLY good and I think she would be great for Mrs. Leab!Opposite of what she has experinced for sure! I know I am lucky to have found her!

Joshua said...

"Ain't that the truth?"

Truth indeed.
I hope I can keep an ounce of kindness in my wife through this process of education... Between that and cooking, I guess I'll just have to hang out at the beach. It is rough.