Call Me Khaleesi

I had two appointments today–one with my orthopedist and the other with my ophthalmologist. They were quite different. One went really smoothly and there were no real issues. The second made me contemplate whether I might want to have fangs like a vampire or to be a khaleesi with a dragon or three to smite my enemies. Yeah, I get a little vengeful when I get ticked off. Luckily for them, I am fangless and dragon-free.

So…the first appointment was with the “hand doctor” about my thumb. After being told that he was running about an hour behind and actually waiting in the waiting room for two hours past my appointment time before being called back, the nurse called me back, examined my hand, and shipped me off to get it X-Rayed. (I knew exactly what time I went back because the waiting room tv was on CNN and Castro had just finished his victim-blaming, “I’m not a monster” statement in court.) When I got back from X-Ray, the nurse was sitting in the room finishing up my medical history and pulled the image up before she left, which of course, piqued my curiosity. (I got a little freaked when I saw what I later found out was a sesamoid bone right where the pain is.) The doctor didn’t take much longer to show up, which was good because I was seriously tired of waiting by that point and was a little freaked out because of the sesamoid on the film. He examined my hand and looked at the images. He told me that he had no idea what it was, but that he wanted to figure it out. He suggested it could be Carpal Tunnel, so he’s sending me for a Nerve Conduction Study and an EMG. He also thought it could be arthritis, so he’s sending me for a bilateral bone scan of my hands and wrists. Then I’ll go back to see him in about three weeks to find out what the results were.

A few hours later, I went to the eye doctor. Before my eyes were dilated, but after the first part of the exam, one of the people working there asked me about my diabetes. This was about the time I started to get in the mindset of wanting a dragon. I told her that I didn’t have diabetes. She said I must have had it at some point, which I told her was wrong. So she checked my personal history (that I’ve filled out for that office a few times) and saw that I never said that I had diabetes, so she wrote a note in my electronic record and on a post-it for the day’s temporary chart that said that the information that I was diabetic was wrong. She even tried to removed the diabetes diagnosis in the chart, but couldn’t. I started to feel a bit of hope come back into the appointment at that point.

I was still frustrated at this point because I’d also had a bit of trouble explaining my dry eyes to her. Even though the doctor had seen me for Sjögren’s in 2010 and I’ve been dealing with ongoing dry eye issues since then, she didn’t seem to understand that I knew what dry eyes feel like. She asked me to describe them and I had a bit of trouble. (Perception is kind of a personal thing, you know.) Our exchange went a little something like:

Me: My eyes are dry.
Her: How do you know they’re dry?
Me: Because they are.
Her: But how do they feel?
Me: They make me want to claw my eyes out so that they’ll stop bothering me.
Her: Are they burning? Are they gritty?
Me: They’re dry.
Her: But are they…
Me: Ugh. I don’t know. They itch?

My comment that they itch made it into the chart, which led to the next person I saw (the nurse) removing the diagnosis of dry eyes/Sjögrens from my chart and replacing it with Chronic Allergic Conjunctivitis, which I don’t have. I guess she ignored the tests that that office had that had shown that I had some dysfunction in the tear glands, even though it was right there on the screen glaring back at her. My inability to appropriately describe my condition caused me to get diagnosed with a condition that I do not have. This probably wouldn’t be such a big deal to me, except that 1.) once you have an incorrect diagnosis in a medical chart, it’s next to impossible to have it removed, 2.) over the counter artificial tears have quit working, so I need to find out if the doctor could give me some prescription strength eye drops or something that would help my body start making tears, and 3.) having an ongoing issue with my eyes being dry and not being properly treated increases the likelihood that I will one day have issues with blindness, like Mamama had with her Sjögren’s.

This misdiagnosis wasn’t the biggest problem. No, that came a few minutes later when the doctor came in. He did a quick check of my eyes and declared (so the nurse could hear him) that I had no visible diabetic retinopathy. I was like, “Well, that’s good since I don’t have diabetes.” He quickly left and I asked the nurse why everyone there was so convinced that I had diabetes. She said that it was due to the diagnosis being listed in my chart. In the same breath, she asked if I took insulin.

Me: No, I don’t take insulin because I AM NOT A DIABETIC.
Her: According to your chart, you are.
Me: According to my doctor and a bunch of tests, I’m not.
She pulled out a letter from Dr. Malone (the ophthalmologist) and Dr. Roth (my previous family doctor) where Dr. Malone referenced that he was seeing me due to the referral for Sjögren’s and Diabetes.
Her: Was he your doctor?
Me: He was. He isn’t anymore.
Her: Well, he said you had diabetes.
Me:Well, he never diagnosed me with it.
Her:We have it in the letter, so it stays listed as a diagnosis.
(This is crap, since the letter also mentions the Sjögren’s, which was replaced in the chart by the CAC.)
Me: Even though I have never had diabetes.
Her: We have to leave it in or insurance won’t pay.
Me: But it isn’t true.
Her: According to this letter, it is.
Me: But…

She led me out to the hall and handed me my glasses prescription, told me to head over to the checkout area, and then regaled a group of nurses with my “outburst” about the diabetes diagnosis. I guess it is socially unacceptable to question when they’re putting or knowingly keeping false information in a medical chart. Personally, I don’t find my angsty response as reprehensible as an office doing a “diabetic exam” based on incorrect information and being unwilling to admit it was unnecessary because that will mean that they can’t get a high enough reimbursement from the insurance company. I’m pretty sure that their behavior is closer to actually being wrong and more importantly, you know, illegal than mine, since theirs could be viewed as insurance fraud.

The hits just kept coming. When I went to check out, the person who checked me out told me that I had to give them $25 to keep my glasses prescription because of the refraction fee. I tried to explain to the woman that I didn’t have $25 and that according to a letter I got from Medicaid, if I didn’t have the money to pay medical fees and copays that I didn’t have to pay them. She was adamant. She asked how much money I did have. I told her that in my wallet, I probably had a grand total of $0.25. She said that I had to give her my prescription until I was willing to pay the bill. I went out to the waiting room, where my father was, and told him. He came back to the woman and paid the fee. When we came back, she said, “So I guess you decided to come up with the money.” Yeah, my dad gave them money. That doesn’t mean that the charge was right and it definitely didn’t mean she had to be a bitch about it.

On the way home, I was forced to keep my eyes shut because in all of the madness, no one at the office had gotten me a pair of those black film glasses that they give people with dilated eyes. I guess that they figured my cheap diabetic ass deserved to get a migraine from being exposed to so much light. I was about halfway home when I realized that I wanted fangs or dragons or something like that because I had just had enough. I wasn’t in a let-them-walk-all-over-me-if-they-want-because-it-doesn’t-really-matter mood yesterday. I think that I may need to find a new ophthalmologist to get the eye drop situation fixed, and to get away from the false diagnosis.

About Janet Morris

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama. I've got as many college credits as a doctorate candidate, and the GPA of some of them, too. I have a boss by the name of Amy Pond. She's a dachshund. My parents both grew up in Alabama.