Saturday, July 02, 2005

I've noticed that people tend to choose their cheeriest outfit to wear to a doctor's visit.

It's been my M.O. for a long time now that even if someone's a complete stranger, if they're wearing a pretty color I make a point of telling them so. "That's a nice shade of blue", or "I like that purple", etc. This goes back to 1988, when a friend nearly died and it was impressed on ALL of us that our time here isn't guaranteed. So you might as well just pay the compliment instead of keeping it to yourself, total stranger or not.

Anyway, more often than not, the patient will not only thank me, they'll also mention that they'd intentionally picked that particular garment to brighten up their day.

I believe it. I mean, really -- who in the heck WANTS to be going to a doctor's appointment? Nobody *I* know. Moreover, the patients visiting a rheumatologist are making appointments because they've got a long-term condition, be it arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, or other ailments that fall under the "Rheumatology Division" umbrella. Nobody in their right mind wants to have a condition that can only be managed, not cured. So I can see why they'd want to brighten their day up. It's a way of balancing the unhappy reminder that these medical issues aren't going away with the happy experience of seeing a cheerful color all through the visit to the doctor.

Patients really seem to be pleased when someone notices the outfit that they've gone out of their way to wear for the appointment. So you can bet I'm going to keep on mentioning when someone's wearing an especially nice color. :o)

That's not just our patients, either. Every morning, I bring our outgoing mail to the mailroom, which is located in the basement of the hospital, and retrieve our incoming mail. One day, as I was waiting for the elevator, three people came through the corridor in search of a way to get to a particular lab. (They appeared to be two family members or friends accompanying one patient, rather than three people who all needed to visit the same lab.) This was a few days after the Trenton Titans won the Kelly Cup, which is the ECHL championship; all three of the people were wearing T-shirts bearing the inscription TRENTON TITANS KELLY CUP CHAMPIONS 2004-05 and a Titans logo. :o)

You'd better BELIEVE I made a point of stopping THEM to congratulate them for the Titans' recent win. And I'm 100% certain that they were wearing those shirts as a collective pick-me-up. "Hey, having lab appointments and going to hospitals isn't any fun. But the championship was, so let's remind ourselves of THAT instead"... they might not have said it in so many words, but I'm sure that was the logic they were following.

Heck, if I was a patient right now, do you think I'd wear Phantoms "Purple Reign" regalia to the appointment, in honor of OUR championship? You bet your life I would!

In other work news... remember that individual I mentioned a few weeks ago, the one who was calling up and using profanity and making threats when we weren't able to instantly refill a prescription for pain meds? Apparently I started the job just in time to witness the proverbial "last straw". This turned out to be a person who had made similar calls and thrown similar tantrums in the past, on multiple occasions. Moreover, it's a person who was claiming to be out of medication who, as our doctors saw upon reviewing their chart, should have had plenty of meds remaining due to the prescriptions that their doctor wrote for them. Communication with the patient's pharmacy confirmed that something's definitely not right here, and the math just doesn't add up for this person's claim that they've run out of meds.

The practice has initiated the process of discharging this patient, which means that beyond a required level of followup care, we will not be treating this person anymore. My manager forewarned me that we might be subjected to similar angry phone calls when the patient receives the written notice of the discharge.

I feel sorry for this person, though. I understand why the practice is unwilling to continue subjecting itself to verbal abuse and threats, especially since I'm one of the two front-desk people. After all, we'd be first in line to defuse the situation if this patient actually DID show up in our office to cause some sort of confrontation. But I have a feeling that the patient's rheumatological condition is the LEAST of their problems (and that's saying something). I'm hoping that if the person is having a problem with dependence on pain meds, that they go and have THAT problem treated first. If they don't, they're at risk of having far more dangerous health issues than whatever they were having treated by our practice. Sad.

On a completely different topic... today is the big "Live 8" concert on the Parkway. It ages me to know that 20 years ago, I'd probably have been heading up there to see the concert. But now, I've got no desire to fight my way through the crowds, in hazy/hot/humid (and possibly rainy) weather. Am I getting old? Nah. Just practical. (That, and my digestive tract has more need to be in proximity of a REAL rest room instead of the port-a-johns that are sure to be installed along the length of the Parkway.) I have an air conditioned house and (unlike the original Live Aid) cable TV. I'll enjoy the concert from home today, thank you very much.

Whew, what a long post. See what insomnia'll do to you?

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