NO ONE IS LISTENING – Marilyn Armstrong

When does the complexity of a problem exceed the original problem to such a degree that one would really rather run screaming into the snow than have to deal with all that “stuff”?

Let’s say it’s dinnertime. The shrimp isn’t defrosted and you can’t cook the potatoes because you are 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, but you heard something else. You told me everything, but I forgot what you said or I was too drugged to understand assuming I was awake but I’m sure I wasn’t.

So … whatever you said? I have no idea what it was and please don’t repeat it. I can’t hear you.

The older I get, the more simple I want my life to be. I want appointments at a time when I can get there comfortably. Nothing at 7:00 am in the morning after an hour and a half of bumper-to-bumper traffic.

There are tests they assure me I need — medically — that are so absurdly complicated, I think I’d prefer to die.

My favorite is the one where they want to examine my brain. It had taken weeks to even get the appointment. When I got there, they’d lost the appointment. It turns out they were looking in the wrong book because they really did have it — in the right book. Which they didn’t have at the lab.

They made me a new appointment, but this time, the test was ridiculous so I was glad when it rolled around, I was sick and couldn’t go. They wanted me to be in Worcester at 6 am. Get tested. Wait for two-hours for the second part of the test. Then wait several more hours until a doctor is available and he, without interpreting the test, tells me to go home. I’ll get a skeleton version of the results probably a week later. I will be told the result is “negative.”

What does negative mean? Is that good? Bad? Do I get to actually finally talk to a doctor? Or is “negative” the whole story. Since they aren’t going to tell me what they are testing for, what are they telling me?

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 am the patient and I insist I be allowed to talk to the doctor before testing starts. This is expensive testing because our government keeps raising the prices for tests and we are poor. So, unless someone is willing to explain what they want to test for, I’m not going.

In the end, I didn’t take any tests. My cardiologist thinks I might need them, but he wants to do some heart testing first. But he does think, as I do, that whatever is wrong is probably not fatal and not in need of expensive testing. More like a diagnostic visit.

The world is complicated. At least half the time, it’s complicated because everyone is doing what someone else told them to do. Or they think they are doing what someone told them to do, but they aren’t. Because no one is listening to anyone.

No one is listening. No one.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all of us!

23 thoughts on “NO ONE IS LISTENING – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. I sincerely hope this is fictional, but suspect it isn’t. It has the sound of too much personal experience in it. I liked the ending, “No one is listening.” That’s how it can feel when going to medical professionals. As if they are only trying to cross you off the to do list and not actually help. But then, I’m cranky this morning, so perhaps I should go have my tea.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a great family doctor and a really good (finally!) cardiologist, psych doctor, and a pretty good oncologist. Hopefully, I won’t need any more specialists. I’ve got enough. But it sure took me long enough to get good ones. I went through some really awful ones.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. We have two kinds of doctors: those who test for everything and those who don’t bother to test for anything. The former will bankrupt you and with the latter, you just die. Medicare is pretty good as to format, but individual doctors vary hugely in style and how they go about dealing with people. There are great ones and awful ones. When you get a good one, you keep him!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have walked this path of tests with both my boys. They both suffer from chronic conditions. The doctors take the safe road and test for the most small and unlikely thing as they don’t want to have not tested and then something is wrong. There is also, in my opinion, an element of money making in the medical industry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Even with Medicare, these tests are hundreds of dollars and we’re living on social security, so the money matters. My doctor still has trouble understanding that I can’t afford a daily inhaler, but they are almost $500/month. I don’t have that money, not if I want to eat or keep the electricity on.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I do just hate,hate hate it when I spend hours preparing, driving to and from, give them your money. Then driving home I get an email from the Doc, have a heart attack thinking it’s the end. Open the email to. “Good news it’s Negative” ….have a nice day. Thanks go away. Well I added the last part. But no explanation, no we’ll keep in touch, no i enjoyed our time together. Like a bad break up…
    Hope you get some much needed word.


    1. That’s the thing. Especially when you don’t know what they were testing for, what’s negative? What’s positive? Is there a followup? How about a cuppa coffee in the lunchroom. Let’s talk about this.


        1. Doctors are so … unique in the way they interact with patients. Some are wonderful. Many are awful. It took me a long time to get a functional group of doctors who explain what’s going on. For me, information is critical. I need to KNOW what’s going on and it has been really hard getting basic information about my own body. I think I’ve made a few breakthroughs, but it has taken FIVE YEARS.


  4. The medical profession is notorious for this kind of atrocious behaviour. A combination of rigid adherence to ‘policies and procedures’ and a visceral terror that whatever they do, sooner or later, people will die and render them irrelevant.


    1. They deeply resent the patient’s death. I have been assured that death is never considered a “positive” outcome. But at some point, they need to learn to LISTEN. These are our bodies and we know things about them they can never know if they won’t listen.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Marilyn, you do you !

    Remind the doctor that the daily inhaler is not only too expensive at $500 a month, it also causes glaucoma or macular degeneration, bone loss, oh, and suppresses your immune system to up the likelihood of you dying.

    I love the part where my Anoro Ellipta made me feel wonderful until I had arthritis running throughout my body, and I was writhing on the ground in agony from bone pain. Ditto the Striverdi Respimat which made my breathing be much better, but then it was causing heart issues.


    We all have an unknown expiration date in our lives.

    We all have an actuarial table which charts our “likely” life span.

    When we add in the actual age we are at any point in time, and compare it to one’s actuarial date for longevity, it certainly helps one figure out where to be aggressive and where to plan for fun and skip the expensive meds.

    Frankly, I don’t want another day of life in the nursing home, but would rather have one more adventure or awesome experience while I still have the energy to get out of bed.

    Life and being alive is a fact, but truly “living” is optional. I choose to go with the option of “living” and not just enduring.

    Hugs to you for sticking to your guns and not having any tests you don’t want.


    1. I always asked — repeatedly — if inhaling cortisone was a good idea. Everyone pooh-poohed me. But I DID worry about it. Now, I’ve got everything from cancer to heart disease. What I get are samples from the doctor which he says “Use sparingly” which I do. If I REALLY can’t breathe, I inhale one. So a 90 shot unit, if it doesn’t die before it finished, can last me close to a year. I finally found a neurologist who will see ME without all the tests.

      And anyway, I’ve already got spinal arthritis. It isn’t going away, either.


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