Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Doctor Debacle

Yesterday afternoon, I had an appointment to take the kids to the pediatrician. Normally, I try to take them separately to make life simpler. However, they both needed flu shots, Neely needed her 12-month check-up and vaccinations, so I rolled everything into one visit. The appointment was for 2:45pm. As a result of prior insanity (yesterday was one of the busiest we’ve had in a while), I arrived at 2:46pm – one whole minute late.

The waiting room was pretty full when we got there, with several people waiting outside because it was stuffy from all the warm bodies packed in. There are a couple of things to entertain the kids in the waiting room – a funhouse mirror, something mounted to the wall with a steering wheel and looks like you’re driving a tractor, a chalkboard sans chalk, and this broken thing that used to be a sort of maze that turns (I’m pretty sure it’s broken because all the kids would stand there and spin it as hard and fast as possible – think Wheel of Fortune – and not use it correctly.). They also have a television set up with a movie playing, but the screen is up pretty high and the wall of windows on the opposite side almost always produce a glare, making it hard to see. These things held Aidan’s interest for maybe half an hour. Neely wanted to play, and I did let her try, but she always ended up plopped down the floor wanting to crawl around and make friends with everyone, so I ended up having to hold wrestle her in my lap. Once Aidan’s attention waned, I had to share the chair with him (since there were none empty), and was practically wrestling him as well.

After about 45 minutes, I noticed that everyone who was waiting when I arrived had been called back. A little while later, I realized that four or five families who showed up after me had been called back, too. Granted, most of the people there were getting flu shots and were leaving minutes after they were seen, but you’d think with that much traffic going in and coming back out, I wouldn’t have had to wait so long…especially with an appointment.

Finally, I decided it was time to revisit the receptionist. Neither of my kids had gotten their afternoon nap, Aidan was asking every 30 seconds whether or not it was our turn, Neely was squirming and trying to rip my earrings from my ears, and I’d had it, too. When I questioned what was going on, the receptionist called the nurses’ station for my doctor and informed me that there was only one person in line ahead of me now. Moments later, we were called.

It took less than five minutes to weigh both kids and measure Neely (Aidan is 33 pounds, Neely is nearly 20 pounds and is 29 inches long now, 50th percentile), then it was time to wait again.

We waited about 20 minutes to see the doctor. It was pure torture. Here we are in an exam room with absolutely nothing for Neely to do but play with herself in the mirror, which got old quick, and a few tattered books that held Aidan’s attention for about as long. Plus, at this point, Aidan is sulky because he’s remembered that he’s here for a shot, and he doesn’t want a shot. I’m not kidding when I tell you that when we got into the room, he sat down in his chair, huffed, asked me for a book, huffed a bit more, took a book from me, informed me that he was ready to go, and hurled the book across the room. He’s absolutely wonderful when he hasn’t napped.

Talking with the doctor was fairly uneventful. He looked in Neely’s ears, listened to her heart, checked out her tummy, and then asked the necessary questions. “Have you switched her to whole milk yet?” “Yes.” “Is she still taking a bottle?” “No.” “Do you give her vitamins?” “Yes.” He looked stumped for a minute before telling me that I was already doing everything he usually tells moms to start doing at this appointment.

Then, we discuss the flu shot. These were just your regular, run-of-the-mill flu shot. They will be getting the swine flu vaccine sometime in October. I kind of look at the doctor for a few seconds, hoping I’m not going to get in trouble with this, and I ask him, “Do you think that’s really necessary?” He told me that he has seen several children who’ve caught the swine flu in the last few weeks, but that every case he’s seen has been very mild. He said that typically when you’re seeing it as often as they have been lately, it means it’s at its peak and will usually die down within about a month. He thinks that by the time the swine flu vaccine comes to Shreveport, the season for it will be over in our area. He told me to listen to the local news, and when I start hearing that it’s available, to call him and see if he thinks it’s worth getting at that point. He seemed to be about as skeptical as I am about the swine flu being such a big deal, so I think he’ll be pretty straightforward about that when the time comes. Thank goodness.

And now? We wait some more. The doctor always leaves the door open once he’s finished, presumably because the nurse should be ready to come in with our shots so we can go. It never works this way for me. I get to try and keep my kids happy, still with no resources, while watching the nurses outside take a drink, chat about what they’ll be doing this weekend, fiddle around with some papers, take another drink, chat some more, etc. To be honest, I usually let the kids scream as loud as they want to when this happens, thinking that eventually they’ll clue in to the noise and decide to do their job so we can leave. I mean, really, how hard would it be to prepare our shots while the doctor is in talking to us? Or while we’re waiting that first 20 minutes for him to come to our room? Or RIGHT THEN when I can see you messing around? It’s so frustrating.

Fifteen minutes later, a nurse brings the kids’ vaccines in. And only minutes after that, we’re done and ready to go home. Finally. All in all, we were at the pediatrician’s office for two hours. Two hours. Note to self: do not take kids to doctor’s office in the afternoon once school is out, or any time that it’s not absolutely necessary. It’s Crazy Town in there.

1 comment:

  1. Ahhhh...we go to the same clinic. We love our doc, but hate the beurocracy of the clinic staff. That chalk board thing used to be one of those things where they could put their fingers or hands on there and the surface would react to body heat and turn different colors. It was really fun while it lasted. :-)

    I am amazed at how long you end up waiting when you have an appointment. You would think they could get the appointments in faster and let the drop ins wait a little longer. The thing that bugs me is that when we go there, if any of our personal information has changed (address, insurance, etc.) they give me one of those orange forms to fill out for each of our three children. Now that form is identical for all three children and has all three of their names on it as well as redundent information galore and takes forever to fill out. I kept wondering why I couldn't fill out one and have them make three copies of it. They said they needed originals because of the release you sign at the bottom. So I thought they could copy it and then I could sign all three of them for the files. Not so much. So I fume while I fill out the forms each year, but hey, there is plenty of time because of the wait.

    But we love our doctor...