Archive for November 22nd, 2006

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.