As a few of my good friends know, I will sometimes do anything to slip in a Genesis reference into my writing (Hi, S). The “Waiting Room” is a song from their iconic album, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Today, as I waited for Gorgeous in yet another of this week’s visits to doctors, I felt very much like the song’s character, Rael, where he’s caught in a place where the roof is collapsing all around him. Luckily, I was in no such actual danger. But the feeling of confinement and a bit of a repetitive routine has been hitting both of us this week.
Part of the process of moving into a new city and community is that you need, or at least should, set up your whole medical team within the first six months or so of arriving. This is the advice that we’ve read from some helpful retirement blogs and also the venerable AARP. You just don’t want to wake up in the morning with a physical discomfort of some kind and also feel helpless about not knowing where to turn for help. With both of us now having selected our primary doctors, we are being sent by them to podiatrists, urologists, audiologists, and gynecologists. And, of course, this also includes going for lab testing so that our primary doctors can furrow their brows when explaining blood and cholesterol readings at the next appointment.
Today Gorgeous had a podiatrist appointment to look at an old foot injury from when she was in her twenties. Two cities ago, when we lived in California, we found her an absolutely fantastic one who understood for the first time in her life how to successfully treat the injury She hated leaving him. Fortunately the new podiatrist today read through all of the previous doctor’s notes sent to him, and he’s decided to continue the exact type of treatment. Sadly, however, there is one new wrinkle that did not warm the cockles of my beautiful wife’s heart: the good doctor wrote a prescription for open toed compression hosiery to manage the foot’s swelling. Gorgeous was silent as we drove afterwards to the special pharmacy, where in addition to such hosiery items, they also sell walkers, canes, wheel chairs, and those special lounge chairs for the living room. I saw the future today, and it’s Martin Crane’s chair on steroids sitting in our living room in about 10 years or so.
It was no small wonder on the way home that Gorgeous looked in her passenger seat mirror and complained about new, um, wrinkles under her eyes and on her brow. Retinol anyone?
The thing about new doctors is that all of them have multiple pages of forms that one must complete before your first visit. A very small minority of practices make these forms available on a website or via email ahead of your first appointment. These are the more progressive and forward-thinking practices that also have online portals for doctor questions, prescription renewals, or to make a change to an appointment. The vast majority of doctor offices still make you fill out these forms while sitting in the waiting room.
I’ve begun to spot medical practices who might be, no pun intended, phoning-it-in with this forms requirement: if the forms you are given are lopsided or crooked, it’s most likely because the original “masters” are long gone. What you have is a very unprofessional looking copy-of-a-copy. My new urologist practice has forms such as this. It also has more than one prominent sign in the waiting room admonishing patients about specific behaviors that they consider taboo (i.e. “Please do not tap on glass. Assistant will be with you shortly” ). I didn’t get the warm fuzzies from this place.
Visits to specialists are also a financial drain on a retirement budget. Our particular Blue Cross coverage requires us to pay a $35 copay for specialists versus $25 for our primary care doctors. The lab copays are $25 each visit. My chiropractor copays are $25 per visit. While Blue Cross authorizes one chiropractic x-ray per calendar year, they now have an additional co-pay of $15 for it where there was none previously. These nickel/dime charges can add up over time.
Fortunately we are about to enter calm waters with our health care. Both of us have upcoming return appointments with each of our primary physicians that should take us forward for the next several months without any need to see them again. If we’re fortunate, it could and even should be a year before we’ll need to see them again. Fingers and paws crossed.
Gorgeous’ long and expensive dental saga has finally ended for now; no further appointments are scheduled for her until July. Even my chiropractor appointments are starting to go down for my weekly visits. I have been saying for a while now that we will in fact have an upcoming period in which the words “doctor” followed by “appointment” will not be used in our daily conversation. I believe it is almost upon us.
For the record, I happen to think my beautiful wife looks absolutely smashing in my her new support hose. I just don’t ever want to see the day when Peter Gabriel might wear any on stage.