Tuesday, August 30, 2005

See Two Doctors and Call Me in the Morning.

Last week was grueling. In addition to soccer practice on Monday and Thursday (Jake), ice skating on Wednesday (Nate and it was the last one), Music Composition Camp Mon.-Fri. (Nate again, more on it later), I had to take children to two separate doctors’ appointments. On Wednesday Max had his bi-monthly/monthly check-up at the CF clinic. The clinic is located in downtown Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University/ Medical College of Virginia. Then on Friday Jake and Nate went in for their annual checkup, even though I called in June the earliest appointment was August 26 at the office farthest from home (the practice has three offices scattered throughout the Richmond metro area).

The CF clinic was by far the worst of the two appointments. I like the staff and I think the doctors are quite good, but I hate going there. I’m sure part of my aversion is due to the fact that by going there it means my child has CF, but the main reason is that every time I go there I lose at least two hours of my life. The clinic is a great sucking black hole of time. You show up and you wait for about 15 minutes to a half hour (though longer is not unheard of) to be summoned to one of the examining rooms. After the vitals are taken you get to wait again, usually another 45 minutes (or longer) and then one of the doctors appears. At this point my children are very bored and hungry. Max then gets examined (an awkward affair, because he does not like doctors and DOESN’T WANT ANYONE TO LOOK IN HIS EARS) and I get to chat with the Dr. for about 15 minutes or longer if need be (this is the one positive note, we are never rushed when we actually get to see the Dr.). Inevitably the Dr. has to check on something and promises to return. We then get to hang around for another half hour until we can finally flee. I know I should be more appreciative of the fact that I have a CF clinic a half hour’s drive from home, but man, does it have to take so much time. Once I was in and out in an hour and I was stunned by the speed. Every room does have a TV/ VCR combo with a kid friendly movie on continuous play, but I have active children who have seen all of their movies at least twice and the place is boring with a capital B.

This time was not the exception. For our 10:00am appointment we did not leave until a quarter past noon. But this time I was smart. I packed lunch. During the Dr.’s first visit I asked if Max would be getting a throat culture and his answer was no. Cool! We would be free to eat our lunch while we wait for his return (throat cultures don’t work very well when the patient is eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich). When the Dr. disappeared we all settled down for our picnic in the exam room. CF clinics are one of the few places in a hospital where patients are encouraged to eat. The average CF patient usually has a hard time digesting food and has much greater caloric needs than the average person. I swear the dietician would be pleased if I could get Max to eat a half a stick of butter (the link is geared towards kids, but it has a good explanation) each day in addition to all that he eats. We were just doing the post meal potty run when the Dr. reappeared. We were able to make it to Nate’s Composition Camp with 10 minutes to spare.

On Friday I had to get the troops out of the house by 8:15 am in order to make the boy’s 9:00 am appointment. Ack, it was a brutal hour after our summer of sloth, but a good dry run for the start of school. We zipped on up with 5 minutes to spare. I signed Jake and Nate in and had just sat down when we were called back. What a nice contrast to the CF clinic. Again vitals were taken and we were parked in our small examination room. After about 15 minutes our pediatrician knocked on the door and entered the room. She is a wonderful doctor, she was an excellent rapport with my children and she has four girls of her own with her oldest two being twins! Her children range from 9 on down to 1. I can truly relate to this woman. After a full exam for both boys we were sent to the lab for blood work. Jake was very brave and didn’t even flinch when they pricked his finger. Nate, however, was a bit overwhelmed and needed to sit on my lap. When we were done all four kids got stickers and we were free to go. The whole process took a little under an hour.

That night I griped to Larry about the difference in time between the two appointments and the random vagaries of scheduling appointments with the ENT (each time I schedule a follow-up appointment it gets rescheduled two weeks later). He pointed out that it seemed to be a difference between a primary physician’s attitudes towards patients versus a specialist’s attitudes. The primary is there to serve you, while the specialist deigns to see you. The specialist is only seen at his or her convenience.

Hm, he’s got a point.

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