Coffee heat rising

Not-a-Cancer: Updated Update

Isn’t it lovely: today I do not have to go to the Mayo!

Friday I drove out to the clinic on the far side of Scottsdale, having been summoned by the medical oncologist WonderSurgeon works with. When I asked them what the appointment was for, they told me it was “a six-month followup.” So I say, “Follow-up to WHAT? What’s this conversation going to be about?” You understand, it’s a fifty-mile round trip and I don’t want to spend two hours and a quarter-tank of gas to schlep out there for nothing. She refused to tell me. When I got the printed “itinerary” that the Mayo sends to announce upcoming appointments, I saw I wasn’t even supposed to see the doc — they had me set up to see a nurse practitioner.

So I fly up to the check-in desk just after the appointed hour, having gotten caught up in a gigantic traffic jam and also having discovered that the Morons were swarming — you never saw so many idiot drivers in your LIFE! The receptionist checks me in and then says oh! wait!

NOW what?

“Your appointment isn’t until Monday.”

“WHAT! Holy shit.”

So I say, “Is there somebody I could talk with who could tell me what it is they want to discuss with me? I don’t understand why I’m being hauled out here — and I don’t have either the time to spend on driving two hours back and forth or the money to waste on the gasoline. Could this conversation take place over the phone?” It takes me some doing to make this register with her, but finally she gets it and she tells me to go over to a house phone hanging on a wall across the room — yeah, one of those hard-wired things with the curly cord — and dial an extension into oncology.

This I do. Naturally, they stick me on hold until a nurse can talk to me. I sit on the floor, open my computer, and rack up 15 minutes of billable time reading a client’s manuscript while listening to loud, obnoxious Muzak.

Finally a nurse gets on the phone. I explain AGAIN that it’s an absurdly long drive, that I’m trying to run a business, and that I don’t have the time to come schlepping out unless there’s a very good reason for it. Would she please tell me why I’m being asked to traipse to the far side of East Scottsdale?

She looks in the records and, after much rumination, finally says, “This appointment was made last September. Uhmm…I see you’ve already had…ahem…several lumpectomies.”

Interesting way to describe a double mastectomy.

“Well, yeah. Actually, I don’t have anything left on my body to discuss.”

“You had no invasive cancer?”



Uh huh.

“Well, this was a routine follow-up. Since you’ve talked to Dr. WonderSurgeon, there’s no need for another appointment with us.”

No kidding.

So that was only slightly infuriating.

The trip wasn’t entirely wasted. I needed some specific items available most easily at a specific store located on the fringes of Richistan, so I was able to drop by there on the way home and pick up that junk, plus I made a quick visit to the Whole Foods across the street from the desired emporium.

But I could have billed three hours that morning, not the fifteen minutes I managed to crank out while sitting on the floor of the Mayo’s waiting room.

6 thoughts on “Not-a-Cancer: Updated Update”

  1. ….”fringes of Richistan”….too funny. I share your angst with the medical “format” as it stands. Recently I had my yearly “wellness visit” which is an annual check up BUT don’t ever call it that as you will have a “coding” episode. Anyway the co-pay for the wellness visit is $10…a bargain… and then there is blood work sent to the lab which is to be covered 100%…in a perfect world….bigger bargain. So I just get notified I owe the lab $8 for the “free labs” and some change but no one can tell me why…My insurer tells me if samples were taken at the time of the exam any sample is covered 100% no matter. This is similar to the situation last year when the lab says I owe them $17 and some change but can’t tell me why. They just want the money… My insurer’s CSR supervisor explained they just need to amend the claim, submit it and that’s it…done. The labs say….”it’s not that easy”…So it looks like we’re going to Court …for $8 and/or $17… What amazes me, there is no apology for the inconvenience…Like the time you spent today “schlepping” has no value and the time I will spend on the phone is of no consequence…in the medical professions eyes…
    ….”Richistan”…..tooo much…..

    • When I explained to WonderSurgeon that even ONE surgery — let alone five of them! — was extremely disruptive to the kind of work I do, and that my business is basically me and a subcontractor and it would go to Hell if I was taken away from it, she just gave me a blank look.

      When we discussed when these operations could be performed so as to create the least amount of disruption to my business, her idea was to schedule them around academic-year breaks. Hence: let’s do the next lumpectomy at Thanksgiving. Let’s cut off your breasts for Christmas! Even though I told her, repeatedly, that my courses were covered and that was not the issue — the issue was the clients who expect to have their work done on THEIR schedules and will not or cannot cut me any slack — she never seemed to get past the idea that somehow scheduling these things during holiday and winter breaks would magically solve my problem.

      I don’t think it was that she didn’t care. It was that she simply did not and COULD not understand what I was saying.

      People who have jobs that provide sick leave and disability pay and have never tried to make it with a small business enterprise or have never held a minimum-wage, no-benefits slave job just don’t get it. They truly cannot comprehend that you are going to be harmed financially if you have to drop what you’re doing. You are going to be harmed financially if you have to take days to recuperate, even if the surgery is an in-and-out-of-the-OR kinda thing. You are going to be harmed financially if you can’t think straight because of stress or side effects of medications or complications from the surgery. You are harmed financially when you have to waste time sitting on the phone listening to their effing Muzak. You are harmed financially when you waste time schlepping back and forth. You are harmed financially when you’re given a pointless runaround that wastes still more of your time.

      I think they understand that it’s a nuisance. But that’s as far as it goes. They don’t understand that for some people “nuisance” expands into “lost money” or even, if the situation continues for any length of time, into “crashed business enterprise.” Those concepts are so far outside their world that you might as well be speaking Klingon when you try to make them grasp the problem.

      By the way, speaking of wasting time, read up on the current thinking about annual physicals. 😉

  2. Sadly Doctors are clueless…even about some medical matters. DW went to the Doc a couple of years back and got a prescription. Went to fill it at the pharmacy….$950. She called me after she regained consciousness and inquired with the pharmacist to get a like drug a bit more affordable. Called the original Doc back who changed the prescription after admitting he had no clue of costs. New drug cost?….$4…I don’t know if Doctors don’t care, are too busy or a bit of both. But there is a definite disconnect…..

    • Well, they’re not pharmacists. And her doc would have no way to know until a patient called back and reported. Holy mackerel…$950 at a local pharmacy? You might expect that of some chemotherapy drug administered at a hospital, but not from the corner drugstore.

      It’s Big Pharma that drives these prices — plus the insurance industry. It’s possible that, by random chance, he’d prescribed the drug before to patients who happened to have insurance that covered it, in which case he wouldn’t have heard any complaint. Or maybe it was something new that he’d never prescribed before, having been recently sold on it himself by some pharmaceutical salesman.

      IMHO the ignorance about self-employment extends way beyond the medical community. If you’re called for jury duty, good luck convincing a judge that you’ll not only not get paid for the work you’re not doing while you’re sitting around at the courthouse but you’ll also lose a client. Or that yes, the community college where you’re teaching adjunct won’t exactly fire you for not showing up in class, but they won’t pay you, and since class meets twice a week, if you miss Monday and Wednesday you’ll lose an entire week of pay.

      Once when my son was little, I was unable to convince a school principal that I couldn’t drop what I was doing RIGHT THIS INSTANT and come pick up the kid because he said “fart” on the playground, even though I explained to him that I was working on a deadline, would not be paid if the project wasn’t done within a couple of hours, and I would lose the account if I missed the deadline. He just didn’t get it — not until my husband applied a male voice, after which it was too late…I’d already had to go pick up the kid, drive him to a sitter, and then go pick him up from the sitter because he wouldn’t quit crying. That was an expensive afternoon.

  3. ….and healthcare…insurance…and such things taken for granted by “the non-self-employed” as office supplies. I’m at the office supply store today picking up ink jet cartridges for my ancient HP printer and MAN these things just keep creeping up. Bought a new lap top some time ago and thought I’d take a look at a printer that was compatible. Had a wireless one on sale for $79….Hmmm I almost bit….took a look at the cartridge numbers and walked over to the “print cartridge wall” and just about fainted. Color and BW cartridges for this unit…$95 for one of each…..$95….this will certainly make you selective as to what you print. As luck would have it there was a nice gal who ran some type of small business right there and she was shaking her head …. She shared my disbelief at the cost of the cartridges and things in general that a small business must have to exist….

    • Ay-ah. Sunday my son helped me order up a wireless laseroid printer — price is not completely off the wall. Cartridges will crank 6000 pages in b/w.

      Realized that I very, VERY rarely have any need for color printing; when I do, I can e-mail it over to the FedEx office and have them print it for a few pennies a page — one heckuva lot less than the cost of a package of damn ink-jet cartridges!

      I’ve been paying $80 for the damn ink-jet cartridges. Cost per page for the laser cartridge is just under 2 cents.

      Presumably because this new laser-like printer is wireless, both the big desktop Mac and the handy-dandy MacBook Pro can talk to it. Right now I can only print from the Big Mac, because the printer has to be hard-wired. Can’t wait till the thing gets here from Amazon!

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