I am the first to admit that I am not the ideal patient. Heck, I’m a barely tolerable patient. Regardless of my good/bad patient status, effective communication between the doctors/staff and the patient is top priority. It’s the foundation of a trustful, working relationship between the two.
I admit, I’m extremely direct. I become irritated very quickly when I have stated expectations and they are either ignored or downplayed. Add in ill-mannered office staff and a stressful situation turns downright ugly.
Now, we are talking about a cancer center. A place where emotions run high; especially after patients go and they have been newly diagnosed. You would think a medical assistant, walking into the waiting room, would have the faintest inkling you don’t try to get the patient’s attention by saying, “hey”.
Sorry, I don’t answer to that.
I was playing a game on my phone when the first “hey” was said. My husband happened to look up, but didn’t say anything. As I was non-responsive, this person thought saying, “HEY!” was the next course of action. This time I did look up. She stated the doctor’s name and that I needed to come with her.
We walk into the room, where she informs me she will take my vitals. Hmmm….last I knew, I had the right to consent to any and all treatment; even vitals. Based on this poor medical assistant’s communication skills in the lobby and now telling me what she will be doing; I think not.
My New York personality emerged to take center stage. I told her she would not be taking vitals. She thought putting her hand on her hip, telling me she needed those vitals and whatever blah blah blah she uttered after (I stopped listening) only reinforced my stubborn nature and I promptly dismissed her.
She didn’t take kindly to that. Arguing with me wasn’t going to work. If nothing, I’m a stubborn, Irish New Yorker and I’m pictured in the dictionary next to “Stubborn” (ok not really, but I should be). I still have the right to say no and apparently, she wasn’t taught that patients give consent. I have a personal issue with being told what I will and won’t do by people who are not in charge. I didn’t deem vitals necessary for a consultation appointment. Not to mention, tell me you are taking vitals instead of asking if it’s ok to vitals will get them declined EVERY TIME!
The medical assistant walks through another office door where she proceeds to loudly complain about me. Well, my first oncology visit is off to a great start. I’m TICKED off and an unsuspecting doctor is going to walk through the door and he and I will be having words about his medical assistant.
Needless to say, the appointment did not go well. He kept pushing IV chemotherapy when the benefits are barely above oral chemotherapy and have a lot more side effects. I don’t know how many times I told him no to IV chemo, but it was obvious that was his preferred method of treatment. I actually had to tell him not to mention it again.
My husband and I left the appointment and went to a bar. Wishful thinking the alcohol would kill the cancer. Oh well, the drink was needed and went down smooth.
Now, after more poor communication with the oncology office, we can’t find a location where I can get a blood draw to take a bunch of poison that will or won’t cure this cancer. Apparently, the medical profession thinks everyone sits home all day and no one works. They must think that because no blood draws after 4:00 p.m.
Now I could go to the cancer center. However, their poor treatment of me and lack of communication skills raises my anxiety 10-fold. I don’t even want to go there for the necessary appointments.
The situation is so bad, I’m looking at driving 20 minutes out of my way, and maybe incurring bridge toll, in order to go to a better facility because I’m not receiving proper care where I am.
My positive mood about getting through this has changed into being angry about having cancer. I don’t want to see doctors, nurses and anyone associated with the medical profession. I hate the cancer center. It just reminds me of the family I lost. It reminds me how this disease has made strong people weak before it took their lives.
Needless to say, my mood is less an amicable at the moment. I deactivated my Facebook account because I am having trouble just interacting with online friends. I will probably reactivate it again, but saying that I’m overwhelmed is an understatement.