A LITTLE TIME WRINKLE – THE TEST AND APPOINTMENT THAT NEVER HAPPENED

Just a little wrinkle …


The hospital said they didn’t get the order from the doctor and cancelled my appointment. They said they had talked to Tracy and she was supposed to call me. It turns out, they did get the papers, lost them or misplaced them — and possibly, forgot to write the appointment in their Big Book. 

Sip your Futili-Tea and have a cookie. 


This happens an awful lot with this hospital, though it has happened at others. Hell, I went to one hospital that was famous for working on the wrong part of the human in surgery, so when you went in, they took a big, black marking pen and wrote “NO NO NO” on all the parts which were not supposed to get repaired, and “YES, THIS ONE” on the piece due for repair.

I’ve gotten the wrong (potentially deadly) meals, drugs to which I am allergic. Drugs that nearly killed me. And, you can’t pump me full of real opioids — especially morphine — and expect my lungs and heart to function. I know they won’t work. My favorite moment of this was at the Brigham when I refused to use the morphine pump, so they stopped asking, removed the button and set it to just keep dripping.

Then they had to come in and restart my heart. That was fun. This was merely annoying.

The Front Door at UMass Memorial

The doctor’s visit was supposed to be a neurology chat and an EEG (electroencephalograph), but it didn’t happen because the hospital said Tracy at the doctor’s office forgot to send the order from the doctor and then forgot to tell me the appointment was cancelled.

Except Tracy had the copy of the faxed order she had indeed faxed on her desk when I called, she assured me that no one had contacted her. She said a few words that were unladylike. “They do this ALL the time. They are driving me crazy!”

I wouldn’t mind since no one tried to kill me, except it’s quite a haul to the University of Massachusetts Memorial Teaching Institution, also known as UMass or UMM. It’s a huge facility — the primary medical teaching facility in the state. Certainly the largest. It’s a complete hospital with every kind of department you might imagine — and the only really good hospital in Worcester. There’s nothing wrong with their care — other than not having enough people to manage and the worst software in the world.

Garry had a lot of work just to clear the snow off the car before we could leave the driveway, so he was tired before we got there. Also, we are permanently lost, no matter where we go. That never helps.

Getting to the hospital is easy. Go to Worcester. See those giant buildings? That’s the hospital. Next, you have to locate the building. Not so easy. There are dozens of parking lots, driveways, multi-level parking garages — not to mention valet parking services for each main building.

Buildings are numbered differently, depending on which side you are on, so 55 Lake Avenue North is really four (five?) buildings, depending on your approach and there’s a lot of driving around in circles to discover what could be considered “the front door” for wherever you are trying to go.

Maybe that’s the front, but it might be a different building. You won’t know until you’ve parked, gone inside, talked to “Information” and had them explain where you might go next.

I can’t walk a long way and I won’t use a wheel chair yet. The only place I always use a wheel chair is at the airport. Everywhere else, I walk. Slowly and painfully, with a lot of wheezing and whining, but I do it anyway. To park, we use the valet service because it’s at the front door and by the time we get there, we’re both bushed.

It used to be free, but now it cost $7, which is hefty for this area. That’s only a bit less than they charge in Boston. They probably use the same company, especially because all the hospitals now work together in large groups. This is better for us, the patients because if the specialist you need isn’t here, there’s an affiliate that has exactly the one you want. Most of the time.

The real craziness starts when you get inside and need to close in on the specific office or area where your doctor and the machinery he/she uses is located.

The Lobby is always in the middle of the building. There are maybe a dozen elevators that go to different levels — up and down. To get to Neuro-Diagnostics (Neurodex), I needed Elevator B, down two levels to Level A, then a long slow walk around corners and through a maze of hallways.

The woman ahead of us in the information line was Chinese or maybe Korean. Regardless, she was probably my age or a little older and her English was not too good. She was having a lot of trouble comprehending Elevator B and going down.

“Down?” said the elderly woman.

“Down,” assured the information lady. The poor woman looked so lost. I wonder if she ever found her way. If she had waited, we could have gone together, but at that point, I didn’t know I too needed Elevator B and down (two stories) to Level A, followed by a long complicated walk through many hallways.

We eventually found Neurodex, but there was no appointment. This was the “short” day at the my own doctor’s office, so everyone there was gone. If I were serious about omens and portents, I would assume The Universe was telling me to forget the whole thing.

I also took some pictures. Because I was outside,  had a camera. Figured I should do something worthwhile. Then we went grocery shopping. Because — why not? Got gasoline,  groceries. I remembered how much I love the way our town looks in the snow. I know everyone complains about the dirt at the edges of the road, but I love it, the way the dark snow in the road moves up into the white piles of it all over the Common. Every building is topped with snow.

I just wish this had happened in January when I was ready for it. Oh, wait. It did happen in  December, January and February. Sometimes, it’s a long winter season.

21 thoughts on “A LITTLE TIME WRINKLE – THE TEST AND APPOINTMENT THAT NEVER HAPPENED”

  1. This happened to me when I flew to the U.S. from Mexico for my yearly physical. Got there and they had no record of the appt. being made..I got various tests done but never got to see a doctor to pull it all together and examine me. I think I’m dropping medicare and my backup med plan and just doctoring in Mexico after this.

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    1. I would possibly rethink that, just in case you have something they can’t do there that needs doing in the U.S. But I take your point. American medical care is not el primo anymore. I’m not sure it ever was, but we acted like it was. We have some really great doctors, but that’s not the same as “care.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This was plain “awful” with insult added after cleaning off car (yes, it was an effort!) and our bungled drive home.

        Another day in paradise.

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  2. I think hospitals have outgrown themselves. Too big, too much staff, too much paper work. Even our local hospital (which is VERY highly rated by the state) is still a walk and a jog from the front desk to the place you need to be.

    Every time I go in there they have pulled up all the boards and moved the windows to other places. Small wonder you need a tour guide.

    For us, Medicare has been a huge plus this year, since he has been having tests and such, and it amazes me how much it costs just to spit into a cup…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know. I dread these medical events because there are always some costs involved and we live on such a slim budget. I would just as soon skip this but the medical people and my husband seem to think that might be dumb. I suspect it will end up pointless AND expensive.

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    1. I’d probably be mad, but if I get mad at every time something like this happens, I’d just be another crazy person who is mad all the time about something. I’ve stopped being made all the time. It wasn’t doing me any good and it wasn’t making THEM feel bad, either. That is to say, it was worse than pointless: it was just making me feel worse.

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  3. I went, early this year, to our mega teaching hospital in Salt Lake City…the University of Utah. Not nearly as large as yours, but getting there. They’ve begun to build up the side of the mountain now, because all the green space around the U of U has been covered by buildings, concrete, parking lots and more buildings. I insist on having a wheelchair available, because walking any distance leaves me light headed and the possibility of fainting is real. It’s happened. I wheeze like I’m three decades older than I am. No shame in it in my opinion either, but I admire those of you who persevere on, doing what you can as long as you can. Still. When I got to the hospital, having garnered the earliest possible appointment, so there might feasibly be some parking spot left for the valet; I staggered in the door to the info desk where a surly woman informed me that ‘guest services’ didn’t start operations until 8 a.m. “if someone is available.” She then ignored me, being more focused on her tweets or whatever on her phone. I am stubborn and rang the service bell again, garnering a glower from her and a huge sigh. I informed her I could NOT walk the distance to the place where I was having the test done and that wasn’t it her job to find me transport? I couldn’t be the only gimpy in the whole place…it was a HOSPITAL, wasn’t it, not a hotel?” She snarled at me and called the department where I was to go, and got no answer. “I don’t know what to tell you” she said and went back to the land of cybertronics. So I walked to the department, and got there about 25 minutes later (lots and lots of stops to rest) and the receptionist gave me a look for being late. I told her about the extremely unhelpful customer service and she said they hadn’t called her or she’d have come to get me. The test was done, and I was ready to flee mega hospital humongous for my tiny town. Had a wheelchair ride to the front lobby where I prepared to present my valet ticket to a human.

    Well apparently humans have now been rendered obsolete, and there was a little machine where I was to insert my ticket and then get the words “Checked Out”. This machine would send a signal to a valet, who would scurry and get my car. Forty-five minutes later no car. I went back inside to ‘make sure the machine was working. Sometimes it doesn’t.” (words from a valet I grabbed as he was running past). It was working. I espied my car in the 100 acre wood and was preparing to walk to it and just drive away, despite the clever signs reading “Valet Parking ONLY. Employees only allowed in this area”, when I remembered they had my keys. I almost cold conked the next valet that ran past, and said “WHERE’S MY CAR? I’VE BEEN OUT HERE NEARLY AN HOUR!!” to which he stopped, looking confused and said “Uh..” “DON’T TELL ME TO CHECK THE $#!@!! MACHINE EITHER. I’VE DONE THAT! MY CAR IS RIGHT OVER THERE!” Finally someone went and got my keys and brought my car up to the patient area. I got lots of dirty looks too. But I guess if those people think you’re nuts enough, they scurry to do your bidding. No telling who might have a gun after all.

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    1. I know. I try to not get too crazy until I have no choice. That walk for me was hard and like you, breathing was difficult and by the time we finally got home — hours later — I was ready to fall down and not get up for a really long time.

      These mega hospitals are a nightmare for many of us. There’s no logic or reason to their layouts, everything is down a specific hard-to-find elevator then another half mile of twisting hallways — and good luck actually having an appointment.

      Unless I think I might actually DIE of whatever ails me, I have a lot of good reason to say NO NO NO — not going to do it.

      I still think I shouldn’t do this. All they are going to do is make me crazy and find nothing anyway.

      They actually let us park for free since they hadn’t bothered to tell me the test and doctor appt. was cancelled. Someone was nice, anyway.

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  4. I am so sorry for the time you lost on this odyssey to the hospital, but it semems to be a general problem today. Luckily it has never happened to me, but I hear enough stories from Englsnd and their useless national health system. These places seem to get bogged down in their own Organisation and incompetent people.

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    1. They have piles and piles of paperwork, nowhere near enough people to handle it and half the ones they DO have are incompetent ninnies. Our doctors are fine, but the hospital is freaking nightmare. At this point, most hospitals are like that and getting worse. Computers do NOT run things better than people. They make things much worse.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think teaching hospitals should have a course in patient service. I have one doctor for whom, when I make an appointment, it means I might be seen that day. Your story could easily have been avoided if there were adequate customer service, but I think everybody has similar stories. The private schools that train front desk people could also help with this situation, though I guess you can’t train students in manners!

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