Convoluted Health Care
This is a rant on how difficult it is to rely on health professionals for care as we get older.
Here's the rant I wrote out of my frustration of inadequate health care. I wrote this on May 20, 2023.
Today I am discussing health care. My doctor retired or left the clinic, who knows? I got a letter stating she was no longer available. This doctor over the last couple of years diagnosed pre-diabetes and prescribed meds for hay fever/asthma, antihistamines, albuterol, nitroglycerin, and aspirin. She diagnosed possible heart disease and prescribed a stress test. She told me that I could take two Aleve twice per day, every day for arthritis pain. No tests, other than the stress test which never got scheduled.
I found out through my own research that perpetual use of Aleve has been reported to give women over 60 severe chest pains and chest compression. I stopped taking it and sure enough, that pain stopped. My research also uncovered that some people who take Claritin perpetually experience extreme fatigue. My symptoms were burning eyes to the point of pain, and that symptom, along with chest compression is what my doctor diagnosed as hay fever and asthma.
When I had an ear infection last year, I had to see the nurse practitioner because my doctor was not available for two months out. I watched the NP read through the medicine description before she made the prescription and explained to me what I needed to do. Clearly, she had never prescribed this particular medication before. I came back in two weeks with no improvement, and she prescribed another drug. On the day that I was scheduled for a follow-up exam I get a call from the receptionist saying the nurse practitioner wanted to leave early so I’d have to reschedule. The nurse didn’t call. She didn’t say she wanted to leave early but wanted to check and see how I was doing first. That would have been nice. What happened to actual concern for your patient? I was angry, I lost my cool with the scheduler because now my infection was so bad, I couldn’t hear out of that ear. I requested a referral to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist. The scheduler wouldn’t ask the nurse to do so, I suspect because the NP had already left for the day. I scoured online to find an ENT nearby who would see me asap. I found one who got me in the next week. She filled my ear with medicine and boom, my ear was healed within one week. Mind you, I had an infection with pain and then hearing loss for two months before I saw this specialist.
Needless to say, I looked for a new GP with the network this ENT was part of. I decided not to tell the new doctor (new health center too btw) to see what she would say and do. I scheduled an exam with the new doctor because I was short of breath to the point that I would fix a salad and have to sit down to catch my breath. Severe fatigue, I was sleeping 14 hours a day. Chest pain and chest compression, pain in the shoulders for no apparent reason, and generally not feeling well. This doctor orders lab work and sends me to a cardiologist. The cardiologist orders a stress test and puts a temporary monitor on my heart so we can see what is going on and if I have heart problems or not. The lab results showed high A1C levels so this new doctor goes straight to prescribing the following: test the glucose three times a day and take insulin to get the glucose levels down. She prescribes diabetic education, so I know all about the disease. She tells me that she will be seeing me four times a year so we can work together to get the diabetes under control. The cardiologist is working with her. What a refreshing approach! I told her about the arthritis in my hips and how the pain has steadily been getting worse. Lo and behold, she orders an X-ray. I’ve told doctors over twenty years about my apparent arthritis and never been examined for it. I’ve always been told to simply take the pain reliever of my choice and live with it.
So, diabetes. It involves testing for glucose levels three times a day and taking insulin. I get a prescription for an insulin pen and a test kit. You can’t use the insulin pen without needles. I didn’t get any needles. I go to the pharmacist, and they inform me that needles are a separate prescription and I need to call my doctor. Mmm-hmm. I’m informed by the internet that this is so insurance can cover the needles. This kind of circular logic is astounding. The drug store gets the prescription but doesn’t have any so they must order them.
I finally get needles to go with the pen and begin the testing. I'm doing ok with all that. There are great articles and videos on using insulin and tests on the website for the American Diabetes Association and the CDC. That’s where I did quite a bit of my research to understand this new development I have. After a week or so, now the test strips aren't working. It turns out that you need control solution to test your test monitor. Do they come with the test kit? Why no, no they don't, you must buy that separately. Does the drug store have any? Why no, no they don't, they must order some. And btw no one says anything about proper disposal of sharps, the needles and lancets you have to use. Not the doc or the pharmacy. You guessed it! You need to buy a container and use a proper disposal system. I discovered that in my own research. The $$ companies are making off of diabetes! It's staggering.
I have to say the level of care is astonishingly different depending on the medical network and the particular doctor. Don’t hesitate to get a new one if you feel you are not being treated appropriately. Do your own research to find out if a hospital, testing facility, or network is right for you. We live in a rural area so we have to travel at least 30 minutes, if not an hour or more to go to a decent facility. Do your own research when you get a diagnosis and check multiple websites. Don't just take their word for it.