COMPLICATION, COMPLEXITY AND NO ONE IS LISTENING – Marilyn Armstrong

What constitutes a complication?

When does the complexity exceed the nature of the problem to the point where someone would really rather die than have to deal with all that “stuff”?

For example — it’s dinnertime but the shrimp isn’t defrosted and you can’t cook the potatoes because you ran out of onions. Home fries without onions? Are you mad? Or, it’s Thanksgiving and the oven won’t turn on. How are you going to make that big bird? Turkey stew? Seriously?

But those things are simple when compared to medicine, doctors, hospitals, and tests.

The Front Door at UMass Memorial where they said I didn’t have an appointment

Life is a mess of complications and complexities and misunderstandings. I told you that, but you heard something else. You told me everything, but I forgot what you said — or even that you said it.

The older I get, the more simple I want life to be. I want appointments at a time when I can reasonably get to them, not at 7:30 in the morning following an hour and a half drive. There are some tests they insist on medically that are so complicated, I think I’d rather just die.

My favorite was the one where they wanted to examine my brain. It had taken weeks to even get the appointment. I got there, they’d lost the appointment. They made me a new one, but this one was so complicated, I was grateful when it came around and I had the flu and couldn’t go. Be there — in Worcester — at 6 in the morning. Get tested. Wait two hours for another part of the test. Wait until a doctor is available.

More of UMass Memorial

I said “Why can’t I just talk to a doctor and explain what happened? Maybe none of these tests are necessary?”

“The doctor insists,” she said.

Au contraire,” I murmured because I was the patient and I insisted I be allowed to talk to the doctor before testing starts. In the end, I didn’t take any tests. I was sure I didn’t need them. They were procedural rather than diagnostic. Expensive, time-consuming, unpleasant — and more than likely — useless.

Whatever is wrong with my brain, so shall it remain. I really would rather die. Sad, but true.

Too complicated. Call me crazy, but I think we should be able to talk to the doctor before they order a lot of complicated tests. Sometimes, you don’t need the tests. If no one talks to you, how do they know what you need?

The world is complicated, at least half the time because everyone is doing what someone else told them to do … and no one is listening to anyone at all.

No one is listening.
No one.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. Retired! Yay!

32 thoughts on “COMPLICATION, COMPLEXITY AND NO ONE IS LISTENING – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. You are correct on a core aspect. No-one should undergo tests without a conversation about them with your doctor. How on earth can you be considered to have given “informed consent” if you were never informed about the test, its purpose and how it might help.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Some of us listen. Saw a good TV episode (sitcom) recently. Older woman was in a funk precisely because she was “invisible” at the deli counter. Invisibility is exciting in science fiction but doesn’t feel very good when it is not wanted. Guess that’s a benefit of blogging and getting some feedback. Sometimes it helps to feel seen. Anywhoooo, good morning!

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    1. I have a doctor who does listen and it is wonderful. I have (the only) hospital in the county and NO ONE there listens to anything anyone says. They are awful. I think they need a major revision to the way they deal with the public.

      I don’t feel invisible most of the time. It seems to be a big problem with our local medical community. I don’t know if it’s because I’m old or because they’ve got a script and don’t know when to get off it or because I’m a woman and we all know women don’t know anything. It’s hugely annoying — but worse, it’s dangerous. I know things they need to know and their failure to listen could easily cost me my life.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I was awake for the complete broken leg operation, I did not want to have anaesthetic, so was lamed from the bottom downward. Ok, no problem, I prefer it that way. You do not actually see what they are doing to you, but in this case I had a side view. The chief surgeon was giving the instructions, and his assistant, or whatever, was kneeling and doing the work on my leg. He did a good job, but it was the chief surgeon who did the doctor’s visits afterwards. I had to go and see the chief a month later to see how things had progressed. He was there, but only turned up for a few minutes. Otherwise another assistant did all the details. The first remark from the chief surgeon was “why are you not putting weight on your broken leg?”. How does he know, he never asked me and I was walking on both legs with no problem.

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    1. I would prefer to be awake, but no one will give me a spinal at this point. It’s too dangerous. My spine is a mess. I actually enjoy watching medical stuff. The last time I had a heart workup, he arranged it so I could watch the whole thing, which I really appreciated.

      Many doctors don’t ask questions, don’t hear what we tell them, and don’t believe us when we answer them. I don’t know what their problem is, but it’s a big problem. A huge problem for me with the hospital was they refused to believe I had the kind of pacemaker that makes getting an MRI impossible. I said what I knew to be true and they totally ignored me. How could I know what kind of pacemaker I have? I must be old and stupid.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. At my age, and with an hour drive to even GET there at six? Yeah. Death for sure. I decided whatever is wrong with me is going to stay that way. They absolutely would NOT let me see the doctor without a series of complicated tests that probably are unnecessary. What happened to diagnostics? Whatever happened to TALKING about it first? Or is that how they make their money, running unnecessary tests?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Of course. Never thought of it that way. For Garry’s hearing aid (sorry can’t remember the name or I’d spell it wrong) it would be advisable, but sometimes I think they invent crap for us to do that’s unnecessary.

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  4. So crazy. Listening is so key. And I’m with you, I strongly doubt that I would agree to do a complex test prior to seeing the doc. One thing in an emergency (lets get some bloodwork while we wait for the surgeon to arrive), quite another for considerably more complex, invasive, expensive and possibly dangerous testing.

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    1. It doesn’t even make sense. If he hasn’t so much as had a conversation with me about what happened, why do I need all this testing? And weeks of researching my pacemaker when I had already TOLD them I could NOT have an MRI and gave them the serial number. At some point, does the patient even enter the equation or is it all doctors doing what they do without reference to patients?

      It’s all about money. It really shouldn’t be.

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  5. I’m with you. I’m not getting any tests done unless they explain to me, in detail, why i need them and what they’re for. None of this “insisting” business. Screw that noise. They can keep their tests and I’ll just keep on keeping on. Good luck to you.

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    1. I finally simply refused to go. If the doctor can’t talk to me, I’m not going in for testing. He never even listened to me say what happened, so how in the world would he know what I need done?

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  6. This whole doctor-patient game.., and it IS a game. At least the way I look at it. I don’t like the stakes though which turns out to be my/your life. for eample; I take a blood thinner and on the supplement side I began to take Turmeric. I go at least once a month to have my blood tested for coagulation factor. They (the doc and the NP) had me on a complicated regiment of one value pill 4 times a week and the other 3 times. This also seemed to cause blood spots due to capillary bleeding. Then she found out I was taking the Turmeric and she told me to stop it as it did the same as the thinner and would throw off my readings. Why didn’t she just cut back on the meds as the Turmeric had far more benefits as an anti-inflammatory as well? But NO, they don’t seem to know anything about natural substances even tho most meds are derived from them. So I took it upon myself to cut my thinner to a simpler dose and continue with the Turmeric. They seem happy with the results.., go figure, and I feel fine with no bruising (capillary bleeding) either.

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  7. oh yeah. been there. They never take into account driving times, distances, allergies, or other problems. I have been prescribed things that I am basically allergic to (and does anyone READ the charts), or will cause more problems than I need…They truly have no idea about the meds they give us.

    I also suspect that many male doctors have grown up in the era where women were considered hysterical fools with too much time on their hands…I think we tend to listen to our own bodies far more closely than men do, and often catch problems very early. To a doctor, this borders on hypchondria. I have had a problem with a ‘flutter’ since I was in my early 20s. i finally stopped asking. Turns out when I had a parathyroid (ectomy) three years ago, the flutter went away. It had been waving itself at me for nearly 50 years. I could have saved a lot of bone loss if someone had paid attention. And it was a woman endocrinologist who figured it out.

    Many doctors will insist you take the brand ($$) name prescription, or medication, simply because they don’t entirely trust the generic. What’s funny, they give you a scrip for a brandname, the pharmacist usually gives you the generic automatically.

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    1. It’s even worse when you are in a hospital and you try desperately to tell them you are allergic to opioids and they ALWAYS give them to you anyway. I’ve almost died from all the help they keep giving me.

      No, they DON’T read the charts.

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  8. My doctor is in a state now where I don’t really have to worry about appointments, because his office has canceled the last five I’ve made due to the doc being “unavailable.” So I haven’t had to see him all year so far, which is nice since his late morning and early afternoon times he tends to like are not good for night shifters like me….

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    1. I had that problem with one of my doctors. She kept having babies. Finally, she had four or five — I forget how many, but a lot. She hardly ever worked. I changed doctors. But no matter when you work, you’re either getting to them during work (bad, the boss doesn’t like it) or when you should be sleeping because you work nights. You can’t see them on weekends (not there) or in the evening (also not there) or on Wednesday (golf day) or any holiday. I was with one place for a year and never managed to see the cancer specialist. He canceled me five times. After that, it was time to find a better medical plan.

      But past a certain point, you realize that no matter what, you are going to have a problem. They are great when they are young, but they get older and lazier. Except, every now and then, you get REALLY lucky.

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  9. For ten years or more I was the patient of a PA, and I really liked her. I never saw (and I mean never) the doctor she worked for. I found out second hand that the doctor I never saw had left the practice and the PA was now working for the new doctor, which I never met either. Sigh.

    I now ‘share’ a doctor with my husband, and he’s fine, he talks, he seems to listen, but I still feel as if I know more about me than he does. When I mention something Ive wondered about he backs way off and tells me it’s nothing to worry about. Like that flutter which turned out to be important. yep. Id much rather a doctor who said, “I don’t know, but if you’re concerned let’s find someone who can help…”

    Earlier this year we developed bronchitis and after three weeks we went to a walk in clinic to make sure it wasn’t getting worse. They gave us antibiotics. Turns out you should NOT get antibiotics for colds, or bronchitis. sigh.

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    1. Unless it’s the kind of bronchitis that requires antibiotics, of course. I like my doctor, which is the first time in a long, long time I’ve had one I think seems to be an actual doctor. And it took me YEARS to find him. I hope he stays as good as he is because I’ve had a lot of really bad ones. I love my PC, my shrink, my oncologist, and my cardiologist. I don’t have any other doctors because seeing them using the hospital we have to work through — it being the ONLY one in the county that actually has all the departments I might need. But they make it so hard to actually SEE anyone or make an appointment, I generally give up before I get to the doctor.

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  10. Can I be sympathetic but also a tad concerned that someone would rather die than jump through medical practice hoops? If that is truly the case, I hope you have a very good personal physician who will listen and react appropriately to your wishes as well as your needs!

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    1. Fortunately, I do. I think our big problem is that the only major hospital has great doctors, but a really awful administration. I know they have been trying to do something about it, but it’s not a private organization. It’s run by the state, Harvard, Tufts, and who knows who else and when you get an administration like that, you are more or less guaranteed to never really fix anything. If I thought something was seriously wrong, I’d find someone.

      Liked by 1 person

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