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Insomniaville -- All the Stuff that Keeps Me Up At Night

10/31 -- What's Wrong With This Statement?

It's easier to see the goddamn President than it is to get an appointment with one of these goddamned MS specialists.

It's true. In the early 90s, I got to go to the White House to see then-President (and possible First Dad) George Bush give a speech marking the first anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The security staff for the event called my supervisor, got my name and Social Security number, satisfied themselves that I didn't have a history of selling classified information or threatening to kill presidents, and presto! I was in. I got to hang in the Rose Garden with other press people and gawp at Bush and Quayle and snicker at Teddy Kennedy. It was so damn easy.

Trying to see one of the exalted MS specialists in Baltimore, however ... that's proving to be an Everest-sized challenge.

I may have already blown my last, best chance. I made an appointment with one of the doctors in the Johns Hopkins clinic but had to cancel when the Titanic Project, the one I'm supposed to be in charge of should the department developing it ever get it to work properly, was scheduled to launch on the day of the appointment. Wrong choice. The Titanic didn't launch. (I'd make a crummy joke about hitting icebergs, but such a joke would imply that the project was actually running at some point.) I canceled the appointment via voice mail (the people in this office never actually answer the phone), and a few days later received a notice in the mail telling me to call to reschedule the appointment.

I left three unreturned messages on the receptionist's voice mail. On Monday, I was about to leave a fourth before deciding that I'd had enough. These people were supposed to be professionals. And they were acting like spoiled, passive-aggressive little brats. So I had to cancel an appointment. That's what happens when you schedule these things months in advance. Get the hell over yourselves.

Did I really want to trust my health to people like this? No, I really didn't. I decided to try for another appointment with Dr. Bigshot, the specialist who treats a friend of my mother's. The last time I called his office was during the maddening time when my doctor thought I had MS but didn't yet want to make an official diagnosis. Dr. Bigshot's secretary told me I'd have to fax over all my medical records, and Bigshot would review them and decide if he'd grant me an appointment with His Exalted Medical Majesty. La-di-freaking-daaaa.

Maybe now that I had the official diagnosis, this doctor wouldn't be such a stickler for proof, I thought. I thought wrong. Fax over the records, his office told me, and we'll call you to schedule an appointment. Which won't be until January or February. At this point, I figured I'd probably have to go through this no matter what doctor I ended up seeing, so I gave in. I called my doctor's office to see about having the appropriate documents faxed to Baltimore.

(Just for the record, I have no plans to stop seeing my doctor; this is purely a second-opinion type of visit, with someone who has more experience with treating MS.)

My doctor's office told me they didn't handle this and I'd have to call the Medical Records department and ask them to fax the records over.

I called the Medical Records department and got a long voice mail message, which wound up with this statement: "We do not take requests to fax records over the phone. Please do NOT leave a message asking us to fax records."

Fuck me. "Um, hi. I guess I won't ask you to fax my records, but would someone call me back so I can find out what I do have to do to get these sent to another doctor?"

I got a call from the most harried-sounding woman in the world, who told me that I'd have to send (not fax) a request through the mail, and once they got my request they'd probably take at least two weeks to fax the documents over because they're so busy, and the process would cost me. Quite a bit, potentially, if she needed to fax a lot of my records. She did relent and allow me to fax over the request when I explained that I needed my records sent before I'd have a hope of getting an appointment with this doctor in the first place.

And I was pretty well steaming by the time I'd written up the request and faxed it over. I don't understand why it should be this bloody difficult to get my own medical records, or why I should have to go to this trouble if Dr. Bigshot might not even accept me as a patient. Wondering if I'm going to face this obstacle course every time I have to consult a new neurologist for the rest of my life gives me that bad, blue, daunted feeling.

Hello, November. On the whole, I'm not going to be the least bit sorry to see Y2FuckingK finally come to an end.

The next entry.

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October 2000