Tuesday, May 15, 2012

That Strange Medical World

I have a theory: the medical world is its own weird universe.

No offense to all my nurse and doctor and medical assistant friends and relatives.  You are all wonderful people.

I am talking about The System.

It is one strange world.

Take, for example:

1. They are so secretive about how much something is going to cost.  And you aren't supposed to ask.  If you ask, it's like in an abusive family, where you are the bad person and everyone looks at you and gasps because you said Those Words that no one in this family says, like, "We have a problem."  Or, in this case, when you say, "How much will this cost?" as they take your family member back to get the gash stitched.

2. They are so phenomenally compartmentalized and specialized.  When I took Mom and Dad to St. Cloud on Monday to have Mom looked at in the Orthopedics building, we first passed the "Vein" building, the "Pain" building, and a bunch more.  I know the "Urinary" building (or maybe it's a kinder term like "Renal") was around there somewhere because Dad went there last year.

3. I couldn't find the Orthopedics building among all the others, so I parked the car and called the number on the little card.  I said, "I can't seem to find this building.  Can you tell me where you're located?"

And the receptionist said, "What is your date of birth?"

I am not kidding.

Imagine, the next time you call Napa Auto Parts and say, "Where on Highway 99 are you located?" and the guy says, "What is your date of birth?"

I said, "You can't just tell me how to find you?  I'm trying to bring my mom in for an appointment."

She sounded miffed, like I had insulted her.  She said, of course, "What is your mom's date of birth?"

I told her.

She said, grudgingly, "Keep going north.  We're just south of the water tower."


4. The signs.

 I read this one over about 5 times and it still said what it did the first time.

5. Everything is documented.

I have been accused of documenting my life in unnecessary detail on this blog, but folks, I have nothing, NOTHING, on the medical world.

Every eensy-weensy detail about Mom had to go ON HER CHART, including private details that I didn't think were anyone's business but hers.

I happened to read a notebook in the lobby that contained the results of a random inspection of the nursing home.  There was a big write-up about a patient who was wearing thick pink socks, and the inspector inquired about this, and it turned out the patient preferred socks to shoes, and always kicked her shoes off, which was fine, but IT HAD NOT BEEN ENTERED ON HER CHART.


Quote of the Day:
"So you're like Angelina Jolie?"
--Ekenna Anya-Gafu, the guy ahead of me waiting to get on the plane in Minneapolis, when I saw his North Dakota football tag hanging on his backpack and asked about his name, and he said it's Nigerian, and I said we adopted a Kenyan orphan.  I think I had asked a bit loud and slow like you do to people who don't know English, and he grinned a bit and said in perfect American English, "Actually, I was born in California. My dad came from Nigeria."  Embarrassing.  He was a nice young man who dressed more like a North Dakota farmer than an inner-city California guy.


  1. You feel it is only strange perhaps. Some folks feel it is quite threatening, understandably so.

  2. I love reading your posts. I love thinking of you and Angelina Jolie in the same boat.

  3. Hahaha the picture of the sign made me laugh! Although, having had a cast before, I can see why they would feel the need to post such a sign...

  4. Wow, I know what you mean! And I am starting to ask about prices too, it seems like every time I go to the doctor they are more than happy to charge me 15 dollars and the rest to my insurance, but a month or so later they always send a little itemized bill for whatever they miscalculated and insurance wouldn't pay.