Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rheumatologist FAIL

This post is going to take me a long time to write (it's taken a full 24 hours to even work up to it) and not only because I have to type the whole thing with one hand (turns out? I am pretty quick at it, which probably means I mostly type one-handed anyway. Sorry, Mavis Beacon.). I will have to write it and then let it settle for a while and THEN go back over it to remove most of the swear words (I am drawing the limit at six uses of the word "fuck", but it going to be an editing nightmare.) So, without further ado...

I visited the rheumatologist again, yesterday.
The first time I went, three years ago, they put me through a battery of blood tests and then brought me in to the office to poke at me and basically tell me to stop whining and suck it up. I avoided them for as long as I could, but the past three years has brought such a rapid increase in symptoms (and changes in my medical history, for example I now have evidence of a family history of rheumatic conditions) and such a flare-up of the attendant inflammation that my primary care doctor has been left feeling helpless and annoyed and my physical therapist has given up on me entirely until my inflammatory processes can be controlled with some efficiency. So. I went back. They put me through the exact same blood tests again which, aside from turning up a possible urinary tract infection (yay?), showed no changes from last time. But this is Kaisers standard operating procedure. After all, repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of sanity, right?... So, there was hardly any point in going to this appointment, anyway.
You see, with Kaiser, if there isn't a test result to point to then you are not getting a diagnoses or treatment unless your doctor is strong enough to demand it and, here's the kicker, gives a damn. It's what Kaiser is famous for. It's why they are so poorly thought of in the general medical community. But, anyway. My sister, you see, did not test positive for anything, either. They had to do an MRI to find her inflammation and bone fusion. Before that, they just didn't know what to make of her. Now, I am not saying I have the same thing she does, but I AM saying that some actual effort needs to be extended by your doctor, or your illness can slip right through the cracks. Luckily, she does not have Kaiser.
So I went to my appointment. My husband came with me this time, I don't think he believed me when I said that this rheumatologist was horrible and would just fob me off no matter what I said. Well. He knows now. I got there and filled out the forms : how many of these symptoms do you have (lots)? Could you walk three miles if you had to (no)? That sort of thing. Then the doctor came in. Now, let me make this as clear as possible, she had absolutely no intention of helping me, regardless of what I said. She refused to listen to my personal history, family history, or symptoms. She pointed straight to my blood test and said "look, it says that you don't have anything." That was lie number one. There are seronegative auto-immune disorders. And some that CAN be seropositive can ALSO manifest as seronegative. There are probably close to a hundred conditions recognized as rheumatoid-related. Six blood tests is not going to detect them all.
She then made me take off my wrist brace and proceeded to pull and manipulate my SPRAINED WRIST in to several unnatural positions "See? You are mobile. You don't have any inflammation. Anywhere. It's just pain. Nothing physical."
Lie number two. I think we all know that I was sent to her in the first place because I have CRAZY inflammation that my PC doctor can't figure out how to control. Regardless of the pain my body is constantly stiff, my joints popped audibly as she maneuvered my legs. My knees screamed as she bent them beyond their limit.
Then she looked briefly at the questionnaires I had just filled out and said, and I am not exaggerating, "There is nothing I can do for you. You probably just have depression"
It was at this point that I decided she wasn't even trying and didn't give half a damn about anything I said or did. You know what? Maybe sometimes I am depressed. Because I HAVE BEEN IN PAIN EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE FOR THE PAST EIGHT YEARS. That is pretty mother fucking depressing.
My husband asked "what about doing an MRI to see if there is something we're missing"
And here, my friends, is where she pulled out her most egregious lie, yet. "MRIs only show you ligaments. They don't show anything else. They don't show inflammation. Blood tests are the only way to tell if you have inflammation."
Now. I suggest, if you don't know anything about MRIs already, that you go check it out online. Go ahead. Wikipedia it or something. I will wait.
Okay. She finished up saying "well, sure, you have Reynaud's syndrome, but that doesn't mean anything. You are totally fine, otherwise." LIE. Reynaud's is a rheumatic condition that is usually secondary to other, more serious conditions. For example: Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. But, oh no! Let's not even contemplate the possibility of seronegative RA. Let's just tell the person who is in chronic pain to the point of no longer being able to work full time THAT SHE IS CRAZY and it's ALL IN HER HEAD. What an amazing treatment plan! Way to go, fucking idiot of a jerk of a complete twat of a doctor! Yay! Kudos for you! Another difficult case successfully deflected and another patient so disgusted and intimidated that she'll probably never get adequate treatment! WAY TO FUCKING GO YOU FUCKING FUCK.

I would file a complaint against this woman if I thought it would do any good. I might STILL file a complaint against her. It won't impact her much and it won't change the quality of my care through this HMO. But, I might do it anyway. Just so that she knows. Feels the ice cube of my distaste dripping down her proverbial underpants.



  1. That is one seriously eff'ed up story. I am so sorry this is happening to you, and it's another great example of how amazing health care in America is [dripping with sarcasm]. Do you know if your HMO offers case management? It may be worth a call - you're paying for insurance, and that gives you some rights, although it may take a lot of calls, and a lot of letters, and a lot of time to make them see sense.

    Your treatment here was ludicrous and a slap in your face. No one deserves to be treated like this by someone who has sworn to help others and "do no harm." Use that fire and anger you have at the moment and BE HEARD.

    If I was in your neck of the woods I'd help you throw eggs at her office :)

    1. Well, thank you. I've been looking in to how to file a grievance and it's open for up to 180 days after the appointment. I figure that at some point within that time I will be able to write about it without swearing, and that is probably the time to strike. Luckily I brought my husband with me, so at least I have a witness.
      It annoys the heck out of me when I am in the care of a medical professional who obviously doesn't want to help people. Why did they become doctors? To make money? To make their parents happy? I don't get it.

  2. That doctor is a disgrace and I think her license should be revoked for medical malpractice. Seriously, the state of health care is this country is abominable. I agree with Black Sheep, wholeheartedly and without reservation. Make a complaint. File a grievance with the American Medical Association too! And Health and Human Services! Hell, copy every health agency you can think of.

    Shit, I'll help you. Dates, times, quoted comments - paper the world with evidence of this woman's malfeasance. While you are at it, file a complaint against Kaiser with the Dept for Consumer Affairs. And the Health and Human Services. And everyone else.

    Fortunately, you have a witness for her comments to you so you can make direct quotes. The worst thing is that at least you know that she's the incompetent one and you are not. What about those people who think the doctor is always right? She should be removed from medicine. She is a liability and her incompetence could kill someone.

    And they became doctors because they happened to be good in science courses. Many of them failed the class called "Humanity" and the other class called "Treating Patients with Respect." Oh, and they failed the class called "Know Your Shit, Be Competent, and Give a Shit About the Patient."

    1. It's interesting. I did well in science classes, too, but I had a passion for something else and so that is where I focused my energies when I hit college. I sure as heck don't make the money a practicing doctor (especially a specialist in a rapidly changing and hugely profitable field) does, but I hardly ever have to tell someone I don't care if they die as long as they don't do it on my watch... and I can sleep at night knowing that no one had to go home and cry because of my bedside manner.
      Fashion school FTW.