I was having a dream about how I hadn’t yet managed to see a doctor about whatever it was that happened to me a few weeks ago. Two weeks? Three?
For the past few weeks, they’ve been researching my Pacemaker. Apparently my telling them that I can’t have an MRI because it would suck the Pacemaker out of my chest leaving me bleeding and quite probably, dead as the proverbial door nail.
What make door nails deader than other things? Has anyone done any research on this issue? No? Well, isn’t it about time?
Meanwhile, back at the doctor and hospital, apparently a mere patient with the implant can’t say “No, don’t do that, it will kill me.” There are all these privacy laws in place, so mere information from the original source — me — is inadequate to stop the progress of grinding towards this very expensive test that I don’t merely not need, but which would end my life.
It took almost a week of research by the doctor’s nurse to track down my device and note that it cannot be allowed anywhere near those big magnets. She called the manufacturer, but privacy laws forbade them from saying anything about it. That I had the information was apparently irrelevant. Calling my cardiologist — again — was a no go. Privacy laws.
Meanwhile, I got a call from the MRI people to schedule an appointment. I had already had this same discussion with the nurse and said “No, no, no MRI no, not ever” but UMass Memorial does not give up easily.
“When did you get the Pacemaker?”
“Four years ago,” I replied.
“Oh,” she said.
That was the end of that call. Next I heard from the nurse who said she was really sorry about that call from the MRI group, but she had explained it, really she had and I said I believed her, really I did.
Yesterday I got a bundle of papers from Blue Cross to announce that they were happy to pay the gazillion dollars it would cost for the MRI that I can’t have because — y’know — it would kill me.
I sighed. Put the papers on the kitchen counter and went on with my day, pretending nothing had happened. It was too stupid and I just couldn’t deal with more stupidity. Especially medical stupidity.
But all night, I dreamed that I was trying to just talk to a doctor to see if anything even needed to be done for this “issue,” whatever it is. I think it’s related to my migraines — a complicated, advanced version of the aura you get before a migraine. If you get migraines — with auras — you know what I mean. It affects your sight and makes you dizzy, sometimes nauseated … and occasionally gives every evidence of your having a stroke. But it isn’t a stroke. It just looks like one.
It goes away without a trace and no amount of testing or tracking will find any evidence that it happened. Moreover, there are a dozen other things it could also be, all of which leave nothing in their wake. They happen, they scare the pants off you and yours — and vanish.
And may — or may not — ever occur again.
This has happened a few times through my 71 years. For a while, after one or another surgery when I was terribly thin — emaciated — it happened fairly often. Good thing I weighed so little since strong men had to haul my butt upstairs until I came to. Since the cancer and heart surgery, the worst part has been occasional dizziness, but none of those screaming seizures.
I had one, though, a few weeks ago for no apparent reason. Although I don’t think it was important and still don’t think it was medically significant, my doctor thinks I should at least have a chat with a neurologist. I agreed to the chat because how big a deal should it be to see a doctor and talk a bit?
After last night’s dream, I took a deep breath and called the nurse at my doctor’s office who assured me that they shouldn’t be sending me paperwork agreeing to the MRI I can’t have and she would call the hospital and make sure a doctor — or nurse, but anyone someone medical — would call me. Soon.
I hung up. That was the second call.
The phone rang. It was the MRI group trying to set up another appointment. I said “NO MRI I HAVE A METAL PACEMAKER” and she said “Then how about an EEG?” I breathed again. Deeply. Slowly. Counting.
The next thing she did was ask me why I didn’t show up at my March 15th appointment. That was the one I went to where they sent us home because they said there was no appointment or maybe the nurse had screwed up the paperwork, but one way or the other, we went home.
I said “We were there. We were told there WAS no appointment and they sent us home.”
“That’s impossible,” she said.
“Would you like to see the photographs I took of the hospital? And the receipt for the parking? Would you like signed papers from my husband and I attesting to having been there and being turned away as not having an appointment?”
She said that couldn’t be because things like that don’t happen at UMass Memorial. Breathe, Marilyn. Breathe.
“I would like to talk to a doctor before I make any other arrangements. Let’s see if I even need testing.” So she connected me to the Neurology Department. They asked me my name. “Marilyn Armstrong,” I said.
She said “You don’t have to be hostile!”
I said I wasn’t being hostile. That was my name. She asked me for my last name again and I said “Armstrong.” Silence. “I still need your last name,” she said and I said (louder) “Armstrong,” so she hung up. Still breathing slowly I called again. Asked for neurology. Gave my name. Was questioned (again) about how come I never showed up for my March 15th appointment. Said I had but was told there was no appointment. Was assured that couldn’t have happened. Whatever.
“Be that as it may,” said I, “I would like to talk to a doctor. Or a nurse. Or a nurse practitioner. Or even a receptionist.” She asked me where I’d like to be seen and I said Worcester, so she connected me to the Bolton office which is 50 miles northwest of here and nowhere near Worcester.
I told her — this time — that a doctor was supposed to call me this morning, but instead I heard from the testing department about setting up an MRI or some other test, but before we set up tests, can I — pause, pause, breathe in, breathe out — please talk to a medical person. So we can decide if I need testing.
She said a doctor would call and I said “Well, I’m off to the Oncologist today, so if no one calls soon, it will have to be tomorrow . I repeated my phone number, name, date of birth and reminded her that this was the ONLY telephone number I have and it is NOT a cell phone. Try to deal with the concept of it not being a cell phone. In other words, please don’t text me.
After which I hung up and couldn’t find my new blue jeans. I gave up on that and wore the blue pants I bought months ago and forgot I owned. Went to get coffee and an English muffin with raspberry jelly.
And then I wrote this post.
How many calls was that? I’m pretty sure it was four, a basic quartet, but it gets difficult to count what with the transfers, hang ups, and calling back.
Garry thought I sounded cranky so I explained and he said “Oh,” and offered to refill my cup. I still have to go to the oncologist and hope I still don’t have cancer.
It’s noon. So many more things could yet happen today. Maybe I should call off the doctor and go back to bed.
Nah. Let’s get it done already. Deferring the event will just make it even more complicated.