His office staff? Not so much.Every time I go in there, I feel as if I have committed some type of capital offense. “Why are you here?” the new receptionist barks at me. “For a bikini wax and a few rounds of beer?” I desperately want to answer, as I hold the hand of my sick kindergartner who has an appointment.
Calling the office to make an appointment or ask a question about a medication is an exercise in futility. I think the DMV must have written their customer service training manual.A recent incident floats to the surface of my brain. Short had some sort of skin rash on his face and head. The Husband took him in, suspecting chicken pox to be the culprit. Short was (thankfully) chicken pox free, but our doctor recommended a strep test to rule out that possibility as well. The nurse called 24 hours later: Short was positive for strep. She called our pharmacy to give them our prescription.
After I administered Short's first dose of Amoxicillin, it occurred to me that the drug might not be compatible with the drug he was on for the skin rash. I called the doctor’s office to find out.
Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell need an amendment: Waiting on hold while listening to recorded messages that don’t pertain to you is surely the Tenth Circle. I tried to be patient and open-minded while the tape advised me to “listen carefully, as our options have changed.” I waited for each option, focusing on what could be different; strangely enough, the one I needed (operator) had not changed. It was still zero.
There was, indeed, a “nurse” choice. I pressed the button. Then I got another perky tape-recorded message:
“Thank you for calling the nurse! Most questions can be answered on our website, so please take a few minutes to self-diagnose, and then you won’t need to call us back because it is probably some silly thing like choking and you can just give him a whack on the back and he’ll be fine! Or maybe you are calling because he is bleeding, but have you even tried a Band-Aid? Simple solution! If it is a big thing, you should be calling 911, so you are at the wrong place and wasting valuable time, so hang up and call a paramedic! Hang up, I say! But, if you still really really really want to talk to the nurse … too bad. Leave a message and she will call you back sometime before next Tuesday. If you or your child is not already dead by then.”
Then I tried to leave a message, but the tape hung up on me, saying the voicemail box was full. I called back, livid. This time, I pressed zero.The indifferent receptionist knew nothing of my ten minutes in the Tenth Circle of Hell. I tried to keep this in mind as I spoke to him. “May I please ask you a question about my son’s medication?”
“What is your son’s name and date of birth?”I told him. Then I said, “I do not want to mix his medications if they can be dangerous when taken together—”
He cut me off. “Oh, wow, for that—you will have to talk to a nurse.”Duh.
“Okay, great, may I talk to a nurse?” My voice was still pleasant at this point.“Sure! No problem! I will just put you on hold and transfer you to the nurse’s phone line so that—”
This is where I lost it. “No! NO! Do not transfer me to the nurse’s line! I have already been holding forever on the nurse's line! The nurse’s line says for me to go to the website because it will answer all my questions but I do not have a vague question, I have a very specific question! My question is not about choking or Band-Aids! There is NO WAY my question would ever be on the website because it is a question about mixing the medication for strep with the medication for a skin rash and that is too specialized of a question! DO NOT put me on hold for the nurse’s line, I need to talk to a live person!!!! Hello?”“Ma’am,” he said, his tone both condescending and weary, “What I was going to say is that I would get a nurse for you.”
“Oh.”Then he put me on hold. For fifteen minutes. Then he hung up on me.
I called back. I got the tape. I waited. A (different) receptionist answered. I asked for the nurse. While I was on hold, my cell phone beeped with another call from (you guessed it) the doctor’s office on the other line. They were trying to call me while I was waiting to speak to them. I knew if I beeped over, it would be too late. I opted to continue to hold.Finally, just as I was about to take my son’s medicines myself to see if I would die instantly or if it was safe, a nurse answered. “May I help you?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said, feeling defeat. “I am calling about my son, Short. Do you have his chart there?”“No, of course not,” she said, like I was stupid. I was thinking it was the same nurse who had just beeped in on the phone trying to call me. “Ma’am, what is your son’s date of birth?”
I told her, and then I told her the medications. “Ma’am, it is no problem. He can take both medications simultaneously.”“Thank you very much,” I said to dead air space right after she hung up on me. Then I called my own doctor for a new personal prescription: Prozac.