The New-Patient Appointment (Part II)


So I’m sitting in the treatment room on my first visit to Dr. Suzanne Lamanna and the almost-an-LPN has just told me that this appointment is “just a meet-and-greet,” then she tries to take my blood pressure.  She fails to manipulate the blood pressure cuff properly so it takes her two or three tries to get it right.  Meanwhile, she has put the clip on my finger to get my oxygen level and pulse.  The clip is attached to a relatively large yellow box that is loudly beeping in my face.  It bothers me.  A lot.  A doctor explained to me that most people’s brains habituate, that is, when confronted by anything that is repetitious they adjust to it and relegate it to the level of background noise.  My brain doesn’t.  It keeps spiking with excitement every time the stimuli occurs.  In other words, repeated stimuli drives me up the wall.

The box is registering numbers, so I pull the clip off my finger.  Nicole immediately puts it back on, saying that it takes two minutes to get the pulse right.  I ask her if there is any way to shut off the beeping and she takes the clip off my finger and leaves the room.  Huh.  What’s up with that?

Shortly she returns, led by another young woman in scrubs who flounces over to the counter, looks at my chart and—with her back to me—snaps, “So what’s the problem here?”

Offhand, I’d say that the problem is that Nicole doesn’t have the intelligence or skill set to check my pulse manually.  All she had to do after she took the clip off my finger was put her fingers on my wrist but she’s a new age child who is unable to function without a machine.  All I did was ask for the irritant to stop and look what that’s gotten me—another irritant.  Instead of accommodating the individual needs of a particular patient, Nicole ran and told mommy that the patient wasn’t playing nice.

So Miss Flouncy-butt demands to know what the problem is.  I reply, “What’s your name?”  Well, that pisses her off even more.  She says “Samantha” and we have a brief exchange about data gathering.  Then she puts her hands on her hips and snaps, “We have to have the information!”

Why?  What are they going to do with it?  Treat me?  They have no idea what’s wrong with me; their data gathering hasn’t included a medical history and, besides, today’s “just a meet-and-greet,” remember?  They’re not going to treat me for anything, so what do they need my vital statistics for?  Samantha’s belligerent attitude has triggered counter-belligerence in me.  She said, “We have to have the information,” and I snapped, “Tough!”

I point out that the patient has the right to refuse any procedure and the medical care provider simply has to accept that and go on.  Most people don’t know that.  You are under no obligation to let any medical provider do anything to you.  You have the right to refuse unless, of course, you’re dealing with the psychiatric arm of medicine, in which case they can illegally coerce you into doing lots of things that aren’t good for you.  Legally, you don’t have to submit to any medical procedure, including having a machine check your pulse.  You only have to do those things which you believe will be in your best interest.  Since this is “just a meet-and-greet” they don’t need my pulse rate and will not get me to tolerate a painful beeping sound.

Of course, nobody is listening to my learned dissertation on patients’ rights:  the almost-an-LPN and Miss Flouncy-butt are hot-footing it down the hall to get Sister Suzanne and rat me out for not being obedient.

Sister Suzanne/Doctor Lamanna and I meet in the hall.  She asks me what the problem is.  I start by telling her about the black box and me having to sign away my rights without getting a hard copy.  Doctor Suzanne/Sister Lamanna replies, “We have to have that for insurance purposes” in a tone that says, “and that will be the end of that.”  We exchange a few more words and then she says—(wait for it; here it comes)—“We’re only trying to help.”

This is the ultimate cop-out of the medical profession:  we are only trying to help.  We are good people.  We are righteous.  If you don’t cooperate with us, it is because you are wrongous.  We are good; you are bad.  Oh, woops, that just crossed the line between medicine and the church.  You put the medical hierarchy on one side and the Catholic Church’s hierarchy on the other side and the sick sinner for sure gets crushed in between.

I angrily tell Sister/Doctor that she has no idea what help I need, that nobody has paid any attention to me, that I have been treated as an object to be processed by their machine.  Fairly spitting with rage, I say, “You don’t even know why I’m in this wheelchair!  It’s because of the damage done to me by a doctor!  You don’t know that and you don’t care to!”

For Christ’s sake, handle me with kindness; I’ve been hurt by people like you.

I wheel back to the waiting room and up to the receptionist’s window, which is closed.  The receptionist—different from the one with the black box HIPAA issue—shuffles some papers then looks down at her desk.  She refuses to meet my eyes.  I say loudly, “Please open the window.”

She looks to her left, then says to me, “Dr. Lamanna says ‘no.’”

I yell, “I need you to call medical transportation so I can get the hell out of here!”

You cannot imagine how awful it is to be in a wheelchair and totally dependent on others.

The receptionist opens the window, takes the phone number and makes the call.  When the transportation vendor asks my name, the receptionist has to ask me.  She doesn’t even know.  I say, “Anne Woodlen.”

The receptionist says into the phone, “Anne Woodland.”

After she hangs up, I snap at her, “If my name was Anne Woodland, I would have said so.  It is Anne Woodlen.”  If they will know nothing else about me, they will at least know my name.

I wheel out of the office, hurt to the core that nobody wanted to know who I was or what I needed.

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About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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3 Responses to The New-Patient Appointment (Part II)

  1. Sam says:

    I was think that it only can by happen the abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union or in totalitarian country but I was very wrong. It was happen here in USA, in country of my dreams, in country of freedom, in country of justice for all.
    Doctor Daryl Tanski he receiving payment in 2010 $61,890 from AstraZeneca and 2011 $8,600 also from AstraZeneca.
    And he also working for community mental health service which is running by Washtenaw county and also for University of Michigan Hospital he use his position for drugging the people. Check out yourself here:
    http://projects.propublica.org/docdollars/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&term=Ann+Arbor&state%5Bid%5D=23
    I think that Inpatient Psychiatry and outpatient Commitment is Unconstitutional like many Americans find out you have no chance for justice. Also I consider this an invasion of privacy.

  2. Bonnelynne says:

    It is standard to go and meet the office staff and physician FIRST these days, much different than it used to be. Being 67 years old myself, I must say times have changed dramatically, some for the better some for the worse. This electronic highway we use certainly has both hurt and helped human relationships. My own physician group has this same type of procedure,and I have been with them over 20 years. I wish there were some reassurance I could provide you to give you hope in finding a physician’s group that will meet your needs, but it is a difficult and daunting task indeed!

  3. telula says:

    Sorry you had this experience. It seems to be par for the course. I really do know what it is like to feel the way you described in these posts. It still affects me. It really does some damage. It also makes me feel anxious each time i have to go to any doctor for anything.

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