Monday, March 17, 2014

I have the Monday Blues, and here's why

I got a phone call this morning telling me my primary care doctor has retired.

My first reaction? Abject terror.

I knew he was planning on making the move this year, after seriously thinking about it for the last two. I just hadn't expected it this month.

I have been going to this doctor for many of the years since 1982. The exception was a few years when my husband's job chose to go with a HMO and he wasn't in their system. As soon as I could, I went back. He is from a pioneer family in the community; his sister and I worked together in our church congregation. He and I went through medical contretemps ranging from various kids' ailments to thyroid issues to female problems to sleep apnea and beyond. You don't easily find the connection I've had with my doctor. He supported my writing ambitions, and bought every one of my books but the last, which I gifted him. I supported his musical composition and jewelry-making ambitions. We were sympático.

[Edited to add] This is NOT the doctor who misdiagnosed a condition and told me that I was going to die soon.

My terror stems from the thought of having to choose a new doctor, not to mention the minor inconvenience of reorganizing my schedule this week to make a 200-mile round trip to pick up my chart. It's going to be a stressful journey.

As I get online and check my medical provider's (hereafter MP) website to find a starting point in my doctor search, my terror turns to frustration.

It's a nightmare wading through my MP's website to find an actual list of doctors so I can stab a list and select someone into whose hands I must place my life and trust. Here's an account of my experience to this minute.

To even get to a list, first I must come up with a medical specialty, and second, SOME medical provider's name so the app will begin to work. If I had a name, I wouldn't NEED the list, right? To the phone book.

Once I get a listing to appear for the doctor I picked out of the phone book, to get a list of all doctors, I have to ask for a new search. Now I can ask for doctors in my zip code. A list appears, 10 entities to a web page, and it has useful information, BUT some of those listed have incorrect information (according to the local paper, one doctor has retired; I know for a fact another has moved to a different location, and that another specialty group--why was it on this list?--has closed its doors) or are corporate names (which are duplicated several times). I don't want a clinic listing, I want a doctor listing.

I decided to see if requesting an emailed pdf of the list would make things simpler.

Why, no. Surprised? Instead of an actual attached pdf, I get a link back to the website where I have to download the pdf list. Okay. Done. I find that the pdf list does not have the extensive information that the website offers. Inexplicably, it contains a handful of doctors not in this community and not in this zip code.

The other option I have for preserving information for a visual/tactile checklist is printing the list. Aha! I click the link. This gives all six pages of the actual website information. Peachy. I printed the list in black-and-white, which means the green arrows alongside vital info like "accepting new patients" doesn't show up. I have to go through the online list to find out if any of the arrows are red or another color indicating they are NOT accepting new patients.

Oh wait! That six-page printout only contains the information from one page of the six on the website that gives the 51 medical entities. I am not going to print 30 more pages! On this batch, I recognize two of the four actual doctors listed. Hmm, isn't Mountain View Family Medicine essentially the same place as Mountain View Family Medicine PLC? Why does it rate two listings?

Have I picked a doctor yet? No. Have I spent a couple of hours getting this far? Yes.

Do you understand why I am so frustrated? Once I do get that list, I still have to make a selection. What do I base it on? The doctor has to like authors and their books? It's like throwing a dart and hoping I will like the random choice. What if I'm wrong? Will Medicare let me change? If so, can I change more than once if the second doctor is a clunker?

I visited such a clunker once when I needed care locally. Based on an ad, I went to an unknown. The entire 15 minutes the doctor was in the room, he was silent. So was I, having given my information to the nurse. Doctor played with an electronic pad (the ad had boasted about the paperless office), then got up without a word and left the room. Certainly not a people person. Mystified, I sat there until the nurse returned with a prescription for a difficult-to-obtain and expensive medicine, which saved my life, once I got a hold of it (it took a week).

On the bright side, I WAS able to keep my very nice, caring, and supportive doctor until he retired. I opted to pay cash for office visits because he wasn't on my approved list of providers. I thought. Two years into my Medicare adventure, I was informed that, no, he WAS on the list.

Good grief.


  1. That's stinky, Marsha. I'm so sorry--to have to jump through so many hoops amid the emotional impact is overwhelming. Does your old doctor perhaps have a colleague he could refer you too? I hope you find someone great, but realize it will take time to create the kind of relationship you've had thus far (or even a version of it). Good luck.

    1. Josi, actually, he did, but the doctor he mentioned up here is my stake president. I have nothing to hide, but I'm not sure I want to bare all my flaws, so to speak, either. Another good doctor is also in the stake presidency. Should I just get over the weirdness of that and try one out?


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