Wednesday, December 12, 2007

That breathing thing

I had thought, as recently as a few hours ago, that perhaps the most vulnerable position one can find herself in with a medical professional is stripped down, on the exam table, with the business end of one's reproductive organs expecting the impending contact with a catheter.

I learned, again, only a few hours ago, that one can be much more vulnerable fully clothed, in a room with two other women. If told, that is, that someone else has accused you of something so abhorrent, so basically inhumane, that you simply burst into tears at the accusation.

I got a message yesterday to call the nurse administrator. I did, and she said that her staff has brought concerns to her regarding my last visit to the place, that being last week, not Monday, and could I make time to see her next time I am coming in. So I made an appointment with her for half an hour before the mock transfer. I spent the next 22.5hrs thinking about what it could possibly be and coming up empty. I was, for a bit so disturbed by this, that I felt on the verge of tears. Thanks to friends, though, who have nothing better to do these days than to hang online, I eventually felt a bit better. I even thought clearly enough to realize, by this morning, that I should've requested a patient advocate to be present, and that I should feel free to stop at any point in that conversation and request to continue it only when one is present.

So I should've been alarmed when one of those showed up for the meeting. Instead, I was impressed, thought how thoughtful, and this can't be all bad then. It turns out, it can. Most certainly, it can. The secretary at my RE's practice accused me of racism so blatant, so outdated that where I live I think it can only be seen in movies. According to her, I asked for a receipt for my co-pay because "you people steal," and then confirmed that I meant African-Americans.

I know that most of you don't know me from Adam, or Eve, as the case may be. But I will tell you what I told the two women in the room today. I really felt like I was accused of one of the crimes of highest (or lowest?) moral turpitude-- rape, murder, racism, and, I thought later, stealing someone else's data or making up the same. Don't even go there-- I know my life and liberty are not in jeopardy as they would be if I was actually accused of rape or murder. But to me this "crime" is of the same moral caliber.

I did find it hard to breathe for a while there. Only shallow breathing was happening here, and it really hurt to try for more. I almost felt like I forgot how. I told the women in the room that I felt more disbelief over this than when they told me A was dead. Silly comparison, but there it is anyway. I thought about this later, and it seems this is because this here includes agency. Another human being has decided to say these weird, unbelievable, horrific things about me. Made a decision and went for it. Lied about me, to be blunt. I haven't cried this hard in months.

The question at play is whether, in their words, everyone can be comfortable post this. I honestly have no idea whether I can be. My first reaction was that I need a witness every time I talk to this woman from here on out. They say it's not realistic. I finally concluded by saying that I need to hear that the doctor, who, btw, called the nurse administrator into this, believes me. If he can't, I have to leave. And it hurts me to contemplate the last eleven weeks have been for nothing.

In the middle of all of this happening, the nurse admin said that it is probably for the best to cancel the appointment today until she could take my side of the story back to that practice. In my complete wipeout I forgot that mock transfer is time of the month sensitive. Once my friend Aite brought it to my attention, I realized that unless this gets fixed tomorrow morning, this woman gets to take from me not just today and the extreme emotion it inspired, but also the one thing I asked of Dr. YoungGun-- to be in the middle of a cycle, to be doing something, by the time my one year anniversary comes around.

I have no good conclusion to this post. I wanted to crawl under a rock and live there for months or years. JD made me a drink and now I feel a little better. I will call in the morning, and see what they want to do with the canceled time-sensitive procedure. Mostly what I want right now is to be woken from this dream.


Aurelia said...

Holy F*&k

This is the most utterly ludicrous idiotic stupid accusation anyone could ever make against you.

I HAVE met you and I trust you completely and this is the just stupid, just awful.

But the most offensive part of this? That anything a patient could ever say or not say, or be alleged to say should affect their treatment. You had a procedure scheduled today, and their stupid meeting, affected it to the point where you could not go through with it. That is very very unethical on their part. Who cares if the damn receptionist likes you or not? She works for the doctor and cannot pull this. Frankly, I don't know why the patient advocate didn't step in and freak about that.

I'm astonished at the idiocy of this clinic and this entire practice. Whether or not you ever go back, they cannot refuse to treat a patient, and they cannot make you unwelcome in such a away as to prevent you from being treated.

I worried about this the last time the doc said that stupid thing on the phone about being nice to the nurses getting you better treatment. He seems to have little or no control over his own bloody staff. WTF?

Is this going to affect your job, or your position in anyway? Are they connected or are they just close by to each other?

Oh god, I'm foaming at the mouth now....seriously. I have to ask whether or not it's worth it to try to conceive in such a toxic environment? I know the anniversary means a lot, but is it worth this? I don't know. You'll have my support no matter what.

Coggy said...

Julia I am so sorry and shocked to read your post. I can not believe that this is happening to you. It feels like the world had gone completely insane.
Most of all I am so sorry that because of this woman's accusations you are now faced with putting on hold everything you have been working towards.
I can't imagine how you must be feeling at the moment.
I too am astonished at the clinic and the way that this has all been handled.
I hope that this resolves itself quickly and doesn't leave you in limbo not knowing what you are going to do. Maybe a new clinic is in order, I don't know.
I'm so sorry Julia.
C x

Caro said...


I can't believe this and hope it gets sorted out soon. It sounds like you might need to find your own patient advocate though.

Snickollet said...

Oh, Julia. This is simply other-worldly. It makes no sense at all. Like Aurelia, reading this made me harken back to the doc's comment about being nice to the nurses . . . something is terribly wrong here, but YOU ARE NOT THE PROBLEM.

christina(apronstrings) said...

i feel like there is no way that post could be true because it is so freakin CRAZY! are you freakin' kidding me? really? what morons! i have been around racist people quite often, and rare is the time when they spew their thoughts outloud.
that's insane! omg!
i just pray that she has been there long enough that they know who she is. and that they realize what a kind, non-bigoted person you are.
fvck. this is horrible. horrible, horrible, horrible.
i am just pissed at the fvckin universe with you.
please email me if you want to talk.
know that i stand with you!

Bon said...

oh, Julia...this is terrible and simply not right.

above all else, you had a procedure scheduled today. a time-sensitive procedure - and they are a medical clinic.

i don't care if a patient goes in calling the entire staff ugly dogfaces, the primary goal of a clinic should be to see that the medical procedure (especially in a frigging pay per use system!!!) is completed if possible so long as there is no direct risk due to behaviour and then - certainly, and significantly, but only then - the staff's wounded feelings and the patient's statements need to be dealt with.

in this case, one individual's unsubstantiated and outright ridiculous feelings of persecution completely overrode your procedure. which you went in expecting to have! i'm in shock. i'm a Canadian who is usually stunned by the over-litigiousness of my neighbours south of the border, but hell...can't you sue for something like this?!?!

all that aside, though, god, i'm sorry. there really is nothing that hurts more deeply than being accused of's a terrible, scrambling, falling down a hole kind of feeling, and you're a sensitive person and clearly it's wounding you badly. keep your head high, where you can, Julia. you did nothing wrong.

and someone in that system should be stepping in to defend your right not only to due process but to your freaking MEDICAL CARE, and now!!!

i am so, so sorry.

is there something we can do? like start a letter-writing campaign to close Dr. Young Gun's ridiculous practice if you don't get your procedure this cycle?

grrrr. and hugs. keep us posted.

Julie at a little pregnant said...

Unfreakingbelievable. You're right; I don't really know you from Adam, but I do know enough from your writing and your story to know you're a clear-thinking, compassionate person who would never, ever cast such a slur on anyone.

I am so sorry this has happened. I hope it doesn't jeopardize your treatment in any way, or at least not more than it already has.

Waiting Amy said...

I'm with Julie. I don't know you and have only been reading your blog for a little while, but I can say with certainty that your story and writing and comments to other shows that you are a kind, giving and thoughtful individual.

I am shocked. The farther I read the more stunned. I agree that you should seek out your own patient advocate (maybe one from your hospital? although perhaps you'd want to keep things private for now? how awful to even have to consider these things)

I am so sorry Julia. Sorry they've affected your treatment and plans. Sorry they've hurt you. Sorry that it is just so unfair.


niobe said...

I am so shocked by this that I'm at a loss for words. And, yes, like others, this does remind me of the prior comments by your doctor about your conversation with one of the staff. This is just unbelievable.

Magpie said...

Wow. Stunned. That is one of the most appalling medical treatment stories I've heard. Simply appalling. I hope you get (got) some resolution this morning.

Amelie said...

I'm so sorry, Julia. I don't even know where to start. The terrible accusation, the effect on your treatment, and how you should ever feel comfortable there again, after this second incident. I don't even know what to wish for you, except that you wake up and it was a dream (unlikely, unfortunately, unless you are a sleep-blogger)... it seems to me that the atmosphere at the transfer would be tense, at the very least. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this.

Phantom Scribbler said...

Julia, I'm so sorry that you have this craziness piled upon you. I can't even imagine those words coming out of your mouth. Not in a million years. God. I'm really, really sorry.

Lori said...

Julia- This is so unbelievable it's well.... unbelievable! I am shaking on your behalf. I too would have absolutely crumbled upon such an awful accusation (and a crazy one at that).

I have never, ever, ever heard of such a thing. I have never heard of a patient being essentially reprimanded by the very people who you pay to provide you with medical care. As other people have said, looking back on the doctor's comment about your exchange with the nurse, there is a strange climate going on here. Do the patients need to be so careful and watch their every word so that they don't end up with a black mark on their file? Is there no grace, no allowance for the fact that they are caring for women in a very emotional and difficult situation? Not to mention the fact that I can't imagine you being anything but tactful and appropriate.

This is dreadful. I'm so sorry.

Tash said...

I'm profoundly, utterly speechless. How "May I have a receipt" which should've been offered to you in the first place, could get promoted to this ugly place is way, way beyond me. Whoever said this has nothing to do with you is absolutely right. There is more going on here than you. A lot more. You have my support going forward, but if this is how the front desk treats patients, well . . .

ms. G said...

Oh my gosh, Julia. I don't blame you at all for your feelings. I really don't know what to say except I agree with a lot of what Aurelia said. Obviously, this whole office is crazy. This, after the comment your doctor made, is awful.

I'd hate for you to miss the chance at the transfer, but I can see how you would in this situation. Is there someone higher up you can take this up with? Because again, like Aurelia said, whatever she *thinks* this is affecting your care, and that is NOT right. And not to sound like a snob, but this is just the receptionist right? I mean, come on, she has the power to cause this much turmoil for the patients? What is wrong with this picture? And the so called "patient advocate" should be fired. Where the hell was her advocacy when she was supporting you missing out on treatment?

Damnit, okay, I need to shut up. I am just so angry for you.

Anonymous said...

Urm, is there any way she has you confused with someone else? I too find it completely insane she would acuse you of such a mean thing, but I can't figure out why she would lie about it either. It leads me to believe she is getting you mixed up with someone else. Nothing else makes any sense.

Mandy said...

I'm beside myself. I absolutely cannot imagine you saying such a thing...and someone who did would not be as upset as you are.

You have my sympathy, my prayers, and my greatest wishes that this is resolved right away. I can't imagine what in the world she thought she was going to gain by this, but I'm devastated for you.

Anonymous said...

I am shocked by this. I don't really even have words. Except that I am sorry this has happened to you. It is unjust, unfair and completely shocking.

S. said...

Julia, The detail about you *confirming* that, in effect, yes indeed you *consciously* meant to be telling the receptionist you were racist ... that just smacks of a story that was elaborated in retelling in order to make you look worse.

I'm going to just cut to the chase: fire this practice. They evidently have developed a culture where the staff's emotions take precedence over your medical care. By all means don't compromise your care further. But I say only continue with them until you can search out somewhere that has a better culture of respect for patients.

thrice said...

I am dumbfounded. On so many levels. First off, why are they treating you like you are a co-employee of the practice? You are not.

Secondly, why did the nurse admin have the audacity to decide it was for the best for your mock transfer to be cancelled? Shouldn't that have been for you to decide? And shouldn't she have given you notice?

Thirdly, there must be some kind of history with this women. People like this, not African-Americans, but liars usually have a history of abhorrent behavior. Has she done this at this practice before or at another place?

You certainly can get one of those pocket recorders
you can even add an inexpensive mike to get close to the conversation without the other party knowing.

These things make me particularly angry, because these people hurt the real people that are suffering from racism or other kinds of abuse, making people question every accuser's credibility.

All in all, I'm so sorry that this is happening to you.

Karen said...

this is horrible and there is hardly a good solution for you here - firing them seems good - except you will suffer by having to wait longer. Julia, I'm so, so sorry -it's too insane and I don't know what to say.

Birdie said...


Julia that is just unbelievable and incredibly incompetent! You should consider filling a complaint with the state medical board, seriously!

I am so sorry...

missing_one said...

This is really horrific.
If it were me, I'd consider getting a lawyer and suing this woman for "slander" (yes, you can do that, no one has a right to drag your name through the mud- I know many lawyer friends)

I'm so sorry people are like this.

wannabe mom said...

holy crap. that is such bs. they have no sensitivity, and are playing the card. i'm sorry you are dealing with this. assholes.