My Other Part-Time Job

November 22, 2006 @ 1:22 pm | Filed under: , ,

If I earned a wage for all the hours I’ve clocked on my kids’ medical issues, well…I’d be a case manager, not a mother. But I’d also be rich.

I spent this first month in California shoving to the back of my mind a looming dread  over the necessity of Finding New Doctors. Oh, how this pains me. We had the most fabulous family practice back in Virginia. Excellent and attentive doctors, compassionate and capable office staff, kind nurses. I loved everyone there, really loved them! Even the lab tech who took my blood. I miss her. I miss the whole gang. Thanks to Wonderboy, we spent so much time in their offices we might as well have kept extra toothbrushes there.

Best of all, oh so marvelous, was Dr. H., whose name I’d like to shout all over the internet but if I did her phone would never stop ringing because SHE MADE HOUSE CALLS. She was the doctor I’d been looking for my whole life, or at least since Jane got sick in 97. Scott and I used to sit in the hospital lamenting the fact that no one in our families had married a doctor, because we could have really really used one in the family, someone to call up and say "Listen, there’s This New Weird Thing going on—do I haaave to haul the kid into the office? Or can this just be a wait and see?"

And then Dr. H. walked into our lives—through our front door!—and I swear I was like a sixth-grader all over again. Hi, you’re so awesome, will you be my best friend?

You want to know how awesome? When I told her I was going to be driving all five kids to California by myself, SHE OFFERED TO FLY WITH ME INSTEAD.

I almost took her up on it, but I was afraid I might accidentally lock her up in a secret room in our house and never never let her go. And she has kids of her own who need her. Humph. So when the time came, I hugged her goodbye and bawled like a baby all over her stethoscope.

And here I am, poring over our new provider directory, cowering at the thought of starting all over with some stranger. It’s like dating again after a bad breakup.

There really ought to be an eHarmony for finding doctors.

One pediatric practice here was highly recommended by several of our new friends. I took a deep breath and made the call, which felt like going on a blind date. Nice voice on the phone says that yes, they are taking new patients but the first available well-child appointments are in January.

I’m fine with that, as long as they’ll see us before then if someone gets sick. I’ve been burned this way before—some docs won’t see you for sick visits unless you’re already a patient. But these folks say, nope, not a problem, if someone gets sick we’ll get you in right away.

So, okay, it’s a start.

BUT. My next question was about finding an audiologist for Wonderboy. He needs new ear molds for his hearing aids about every six months. The current pair was made in late June. Already they’re getting a little loose; he’ll need a new pair in Jan or Feb for sure. And I know how these things work. We’ll have to have the new-patient visit to the audiologist too, with hearing tests, and then they’ll probably have us come back a second time to get the ear molds made. And then it’ll take a few weeks for the new molds to come in. Time, time, it all takes time. I’m an experienced case manager now and I know you have to anticipate the patient’s needs.

So the new pediatrician’s office recommended an audiologist. But THAT office says there’s a two-month wait for new-patient appointments there, too. And also? They can’t make an appointment for Wonderboy without a prescription from his pediatrician.

Me: "A prescription? Do you mean a referral? We have a PPO now; we don’t need specialist referrals as long as they’re in the network. Which you are."

Audiology office: "No, a prescription. For a hearing test."

Ohhhhkay. Right. Because, you know, there’s such a black market for hearing tests. Hearing test abuse, it’s a real problem in urban centers. Especially among three-year-olds. Their mothers are always trying to sneak in preschoolers with perfect hearing just to get a quick buzz off those intoxicating beeps and clicks.

I called the pediatrician’s office back. I told Scott it was a test: how they respond to this situation will give me a good idea of what has the upper hand in their practice: human need or red tape.

The first person I spoke with scored well. When I explained that I can’t wait until January (when our new-patient appointment is scheduled) to get the prescription because then it will be MARCH before the audiologist can see us, and probably APRIL at the earliest before we get new ear molds, and even though Wonderboy doesn’t need new molds now, he will certainly need them before April—when I (gasp, pant) explained all this, the Unnamed Office Person on the phone totally understood the problem. She took all our info and said she’ll have a nurse call back.

So now I’m waiting for round two. Meanwhile, I keep finding myself staring at the phone, with Dr. H’s number on the tips of my fingers. Chill out, I tell myself. They have good doctors in California too. I might call her anyway, because now that she’s officially not our doctor anymore, I am totally latching onto her claiming her as a friend. And if she ever does fly out here for a visit I promise not to make her give us all checkups.

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12 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Anonymous says:

    I think you should call Dr. H and ask her to send out a script for the test and whatever else needs be done with the audiologist that the office might dream up requires a script prior to the appt.

  2. Karen E. says:

    Yes, definitely go the friend route with Dr. H. I’ll be praying for the next perfect doctor to come along! 🙂

  3. Anne Marie Pace says:

    I know only one Dr. H., but I don’t know if it’s the same person. I do like this Dr. H. quite a bit, so it could be.

    Now I want to get out the phone book . . .

  4. Katie says:

    I’ve moved from state to state a few times, and have had to call our former physicians for prescriptions before we could get into my see the new ones. It’s a pretty common thing, I’m sure. Good luck!

  5. moreena says:

    Oh, I’m feeling you on this one. At one point, we were fantasizing about moving to Maine, but realized there was no way in the world we could leave Annika’s doctors. We are probably a doctor’s worst nightmare. Good for you for making the leap!

  6. Anne V. says:

    Oh yeah! We are there too! Almost 2 years here and still testing our family doc-he is OK but not Dr. M. in VA. Dr. M. cared more-we weren’t just a number. I am suffering through a back/shoulder issue and in a lot of pain at some times of the day-and mostly night. If I was in VA I could call Dr. M. and tell him and he’d feel for me. This guy told me I need to wait 4-6 weeks to see if it goes away–and it really isn’t. I waited for my xray results-he did call and then give me pain meds-which aren’t working right now. I’ll be in there Monday for sure! I just want to drive back home and see Dr. M. and have him put his hand on my(not hurting) shoulder and smile and tell me everything will be OK. This has been one of the hardest parts about moving for me.
    At least in CA you have a good chance of finding a midwife. They are few and far between here.
    But, dentists are my big problem right now. Can’t find one-been to 3! Don’t like any. L has a few cavities and one dentist she liked(so if she needs work this one could do it fairly stress free-but I didn’t like her treatment plan), another L did not like, big time(but his wait and see plan merged better with my ideals), the other took M off to another room for a cleaning and didn’t tell me they were doing a flouride treatment. Maybe I am nuts but if you are going to take my 7 year old out of my sight-tell me EVERYTHING you are going to do!
    I try to remember it takes awhile to develop that “relationship.” SO hard when you are not feeling well though and need some TLC.
    Thanks for listening and good luck!

  7. coffeemamma says:

    We’re going through the same thing here. We finally found a very nice family doctor, so our only problem is now finding a pediatric opthamologist who isn’t scared to take on Baby’s case 😉 Her fabulous, wonderful PO who was Baby’s doctor since she was 3mo has been trying to hook us up with someone for months now. So far, only one *possible* lead- a nice young man who was the doc’s student and actually did a thesis on Baby’s case. ((crossing fingers… ))

  8. Beth says:

    Oh, I wish you the best of luck on this!

  9. Jeanne says:

    We are all waiting to hear if they ever called you back!

  10. Melissa Wiley says:

    So far, not yet, Jeanne. I’ll bug them again today. Hmm…

    Anne Marie, dear Dr H’s office is about a mile from my old house, so I bet she’s not the Dr. H. you know. She’d be a bit of a drive for you, but then you could always stop for tea with Lisa afterward! 🙂

  11. Sarah says:

    My sympathy on the doctor search. I went through the same thing a while ago when my wonderful family doctor became just impossible – we’d sit for an hour in his waiting room because he was so popular he was always double-booking, and then we’d get sick from what everyone else had.

    My current doctors are a group practice, so we never know which one we will get each time, and they all have different attitudes and approaches. Its very frustrating, especially when you have a child who is recovering from a chronic illness and needs continuity of care. But they are FREE. Big selling point!

    I was so pleased to read someone else is searching for a dentist. We are doing the same thing. Our dd hates needles after having too many blood tests. We are trying to find a dental nurse who will be kind to her. It’s more difficult than you might think!