This past Friday I had my first doctor appointment in San Diego. I had a litany of errors which delayed me seeing someone, one of which was just recovering from the move.
Another was that I had signed up for Covered California and I found myself in a horrible, horrible medical plan. It was a PPO, which I thought meant you could see any doctor you wanted to, you just might have to pay a little bit more.
This is actually not the case.
The doctor still has to agree to contract with your insurance as a PPO. No one did with my insurance. I couldn’t believe it. On this insurance’s website there were maybe 3-5 doctors that I could see. For pain management there was maybe 5-7. The first one was closed. The second one was in a chiropractor’s office which seemed very sketchy when I called. the other 3 were from Redwood City — 7 to 8 hours away. Really?
I was paying $450 a month and I couldn’t see anyone.
Therefore, I spent countless hours on the phone over a few weeks trying to get my plan switched. Then I had to wait until the last day of February to change so I wouldn’t have a lapse in coverage. Right when I thought it was all handled? Nope, they called me back and said they couldn’t do it. I didn’t stand for that, and after and hour or more, I finally got my plan switched. I paid for the plan that day. This was a Saturday.
So I called on Monday to get my new insurance ID (I knew the cards wouldn’t be ready, but I thought at least I would have a member ID). Nope. No ID. I was told 7-10 business days. Well, shit. That was this past Monday, and the appointment was on Friday. I really didn’t want to cancel as I had gotten my nerve up to go.
Needless to say I called at 10:00 am on Friday morning and my appointment was at 2:00. Low-and-behold, something finally went my way and I got an ID. I then went online with Anthem Blue Cross and printed out temporary ID cards.
I was very worried about the drive there. I have no idea where I live. In San Francisco, I had been well the 10 years I lived there. If you told me a doctor office was on California and Cherry, I knew exactly where that was. I would be able to pep talk myself into knowing I was half way there, how many lights there were. I would even be able to tell you if there were a bunch of bumps in the road.
That is not the case here.
I have no idea how long it takes to drive down certain streets here. I don’t know where the construction is. Is that one way street a time-suck? I really haven’t a clue. So that added to my stress.
Yet, the drive wasn’t so bad. 4 minutes! I thought it was going to be about ten, which is out of my driving range, and it all ended up being fine!
We got there and my friend dropped me off at the front. That was great; however, I couldn’t open the door. The nice receptionist came out without me having to ask and opened the door for me. She was a lovely young lady and she handed me what looked like an Etch A Sketch with a Palm Pilot stylus pen. It was the most cumbersome thing I have ever used. It took me 20 minutes to enter information that otherwise would have taken 5 minutes! I couldn’t even help but huff right next to the lady over it. It was getting so frustrating! Then my friend decided to help me finish it and even he was getting upset!
After we filled out that document, we were ushered right back. I liked that. There wasn’t a huge waiting room or huge amount of people waiting in line. The room was super tiny and pretty much entirely filled with the bed. We waited for just a few minutes and then could hear the doc outside of the room. Too bad there was one more snafu! Stupid pharmaceutical sales rep snagged him! I looked at my friend and was like “I”m not gonna sit here and wait while that girl makes a stupid fucking sale or tries to give him a free bagel so she can talk to him for 30 minutes!”
My friend, immediately on my side, was like “I’ll go out there and shut this thing down now.” I was like no, just wait a few minutes and see what happens; however, he already had the bug in him to stand up for me, so he went out there with the excuse that if the doc needed to talk to someone, perhaps I could get my flu shot now, instead of after the visit. That hustled the doc right in.
The doctor was fantastic. I will refer to him as Dr. W from here on out. Dr. W came right in and got to work asking me really great questions and actually listening. Myself and my friend relayed my strong reservations of being moved or manipulated form fear of becoming more injured as a result of the appointment. That was about 1/2 the appointment. The other 1/2 was giving him a background of all my previous injuries that may help him in a diagnosis of what is wrong with my back and what is wrong with me overall. Dr. W then went on to try to do an exam, but relented to just having me answer how it would feel if he were to do certain motions. I was super-duper grateful for him doing that.
He then said some wonderful things. One, he said “You are not normal. We have people who come in here with huge bulging discs that compress their spines and they have more mobility and less pain than you.”
I was like, I know.
He then went on to say that this all was a lot to digest. He said his first inclination would be to send me to physical therapy to see if that would help with my range of motion but that he was hesitant, as I have done in before and been hurt every time.
Then he said this, he wanted to take a few weeks to review my notes and think on it.
How great is that!
I have had so many doctors just shrug their shoulders. One, even literally. One doc said to me ‘What do you want me to do?”
Not Dr. W.
Who knows if the guy can fix me, I know I am an anomaly, however, I like that he isn’t just dropping the ball. He wants to call my other doctors, see what they can come up with together. So far, I love this doctor just for taking the time to listen to me and the time to care enough about my case to try and do something about it. Really, that’s all I can ask for. It doesn’t seem anyone really knows what’s wrong with me or how to fix me. At least this guy is taking more than five minutes to come to that conclusion.
Overall, I was at his office for about one hour standing, which was completely reasonable. It was later in the day, so I was very worried about the drive home. After sitting to get there, standing, the stress of having to relay how shitty my life is, and then get back into the car? Yes, I was worried. Yet, it wasn’t that bad. The one ways on the way home worked in our favor.
Nothing happened that day that made me feel nervous. Sometimes I leave doctors and I’m like, well, that wouldn’t have hurt a normal person, but I’m worried for myself. Nope. All was fine that night and the next day. Today is Sunday and I’m back to my normal crappy baseline.
I’ll take it.
One last thought. I’m really grateful Dr. W wants to contact my old doctors and kind of conference about my case. My only reservation is that Dr. D who was my primary before, really is set on my condition being a result of idiopathic hypoparathyroidism. I just really want fresh eyes on the case, not for Dr. W to be swayed by Dr. D.
Also, in regards to that point, it makes me more mad that my previous sports medicine doctor wouldn’t consult with his mentor. I had blogged previously that my sports medicine doctor ran out of ideas on how to help me, and thought I should go see his mentor. However, the trip was too far for me so I asked if he would call him up to discuss my case. He said no.
I had seen that doctor for years in regards to my back ailment and previous ailments. He wouldn’t even consider going out of his way for his patient. This new guy? He did it within one hour of meeting me.
I like him.
Madeline Fresco is a novelist who lives in San Diego. She is the author of CROSSED THE LINE, available for Kindle at Amazon.com, for Nook at Barnes & Noble, and as an ePub at other eBook retailers. You can also listen to her novel as a free, serialized audiobook at . Her second book THE CHOICE, is available on Kindle at Amazon. Her third book ANGUISH, is available for Kindle at Amazon.com