We are now contributors to Allen County's 2013 flu statistics. In 13 years of being a momma, I've never had a doctor to diagnose my kids with influenza. It felt kinda weird to go through all the hassle of an appointment (dragging two fevered, congested, weak kids out into freezing temps), a torturous (for Kaitlynn anyway) nasal swab, and a two hour pharmacy ordeal...just to make it official.
If you've hung around this blog for a couple of years, you've probably read my dr's office horror stories, and thanks to my not-so-great, don't-ever-want-to-repeat experiences, I've pretty much made dr visits an absolute, only-if-you're dyin', last resort kind of thing. Since Kaitlynn was entering her 73rd hour of fever, headache, etc., and Ryan was starting into his first day, I figured it was time to take a little action. I was more afraid that what he had might be going into pneumonia (he had it last winter), and she was just wrung out from three days of misery. Here's today's story...
When I called to make the appointment, the receptionist was laughing as she answered the phone, making it completely impossible for me to understand anything she said except the last part, "Can you hold?" I figured by the utter incompetence that I had gotten the right number, so I held. When she came back on the line, there was so much noise (sounded like a bunch of women laughing) that she couldn't hear anything I was saying. She did apologize and said that "they" were being really loud...I'm guessing it was the medical assistants that sometimes hang out at the front desk. I repeated everything to her, and she scheduled me. Easy enough.
We arrived about 20 minutes early in hopes that we would get out quickly, and we weren't disappointed. It was interesting, though, that every time the receptionist answered the phone while I was at the desk, she was impossible to understand. A few minutes later, a stoic employee came out to usher us to the first room where they do all the vitals and record symptoms. Within just a bit, a woman who had at least eight hoop earrings in each ear and a humongo tatoo on her neck came to do the nasal swab. She made the mistake of doing Ryan's first, which gave Kait the opportunity to see what was about to hit her. Of course, Kait started weeping (which instantly rubs that office the wrong way...every time), and Kait gave a yell when the swab hit her brain (she says it felt like that, anyway...lol). By the time they moved us to the exam room, I could tell we were once again well-removed from the top ten favorite patient list.
When the dr (whom we really do like) finally walked in the door, the kids were really feeling rotten and wanting to go home and crawl into their beds. After a little small talk, she pulled out Ryan's chart and said, "No flu for him." She did a bit of a double take at the chart and said, "HOW much does he weigh?" I tentatively said, "One hundred ninety-eight pounds." Then I held my breath...preparing myself for one of those 'healthy kids don't weigh nearly that much at 13' speeches. Instead she said, "Sure doesn't look like it." I said, "Stand up, Ryan," and I think she was a little surprised that after he unfolded himself she had to look up to him. :-) Kaitlynn's flu test was positive, so she figured Ryan's was a false negative, and prescribed us Tamiflu and a decongestant.
Pretty soon, stoic woman came back through the door and in a tone of voice I cannot convey in print pointedly said to me, "Your other two children have not been here in over a year, so you have to get them here. You may just want to stop at the desk on your way out and get an appointment for tomorrow." Um, really? Like it's such a crime that we haven't had to visit the germ factory for more than a year? And I have to get them there because I'm breaking the law if I don't? Ok...so you can hear the first-born coming out in me, can't you? :-) With my sweetest smile, I replied, "Well, I guess we'll see what happens." That's a pretty diplomatic answer, right? Hehe...
We made it out of there in pretty decent time, but that wasn't the end of the process...oh, no. Why on earth do pharmacies have to be so frustrating? I decided to go to the Wal Mart that was close to the dr but across town from our home because they had a drive thru, it was cold out, and I had sick kids with me. I sent the four prescriptions through the tube, and waited. And waited. When a face finally appeared on the screen, I asked for them to give me a total with my insurance coverage figured in. The nice lady told me that it would be 30 minutes before they could give me a total and one hour before the meds would be ready. I had a couple of errands to run anyway, so that wasn't a problem. Thirty minutes later, I called them to get a total. I don't know why I do that, other than the fact that I'm laying out cash and I don't like surprises. One time when Ryan was little one of his meds was, if I remember right, over $100. I will never forget the "sticker shock" when I arrived at the register, and I've had an aversion to surprises ever since. :-) Anyway, when I called for the total, they informed me of the prices but said that they were unable to fill Kaitlynn's Tamiflu until Friday because they were out of it. I ran back there and asked them to send me the script through the tube so I could check around while they finished the others. I headed down to Rite Aid, and the kind pharmacist there told me they were also out. I called the Wal Mart across town, and they said they had five boxes left, so I went back to pick up the ones that were ready, and while I was at it, I asked if that Wal Mart could just transfer it over to the other Wal Mart to save me having to wait a long time. The lady said, "No, you took it." I said, "I have it right here. I can send it back to you," to which she replied, "Since it's already out of our system, we can't transfer it." Really. Wal Mart to Wal Mart. Wow. Ok.
By this time, in spite of the heat being on high and full blast, the kids were shivering and miserable so I took them home and let Greg deal with the last prescription. I am thankful that there wasn't like a regional Tamiflu shortage, and tonight they are tucked into bed with their prescribed meds in their systems killing flu bugs. The whole thing (minus Greg's prescription trip) took 3 hours. And to think, they were demanding that I do it all over again tomorrow. Whew.
I would say that in the last ten years I have become much more skeptical of the way some healthcare providers operate. It's not that I've personally had a terrible experience, but in observing medical offices, hospitals, and their staff at many levels, I realize that they 'system' is very institutionalized. It's just a job for a lot of providers. They aren't really concerned about the patient. Don't get me wrong, I know this isn't true of everyone. Many people in my family work in healthcare and they genuinely work from the heart. They are passionate and compassionate, and it's like they were born with a healing touch. Even if they aren't able to work physical miracles for their patients, they minister to the hurting and do their best to preserve the highest quality of life possible. Some that I see becoming interested in medical field scare me, quite frankly. I wouldn't want to be at their mercy! :-) But beyond that, it seems like the reach of government into healthcare has made people feel as though they are no longer in charge of their decisions. I will never forget sitting in an office pouring over Ohio's recommended immunization list deciding which ones I was going to have them administer to my baby. I felt like a complete freak, and it was like pulling teeth to get them to answer my questions about the immunizations. I'm sure they're much happier with the moms who walk in, uncover the kiddo's arms and legs, and let them inject away! It's not that I'm against immunizations or anything like that. They have certainly saved society from all kinds of diseases. But when we're giving 7th grade boys and girls immunizations for HPV, something is wrong, people! By the way, none of my kids will ever see the end of that needle. I can't imagine injecting them with a little bit of an STD so that they can be promiscuous and be protected from some of the consequences. Unfortunately, that is the mentality of this culture. When one of my friends took her 7th grade boy to be immunized, she questioned the HPV and found out what it was for. She was almost in disbelief, and refused it. She was able to share with the nurse that certain behaviors would not be a part of her son's teen years. The nurse didn't give her too much grief about it, but it sure opened my friend's eyes to what can be pushed upon us! With the widespread use of Medicaid as the financial bait, the government finds it easy to get families to abide by their recommendations, whether or not they are necessary, beneficial to the child, or even morally acceptable. Between our means and the insurance that we purchase each month, we don't have to feel coerced into this mold, and I balk at the way the system works these days. I long for an old-fashioned doctor with old-fashioned values and modern medical expertise. I'm sure there's one out there...
I know I'm being a little more than chatty. It's part of being housebound for three days. :-) Now it's time for me to make my rounds pushing fluids and making sure fevers aren't completely out of control before I tuck myself in for the night.
Drink o.j., take your vitamins, and stay healthy! We tried!