Now casting cardiologists in Boca Raton for science experiment.
- Have time for a new patient
- Don’t be a complete fucking asshole
- Don’t have a complete fucking asshole as a secretary
- Speak to people like they’re human
- Don’t give up easily
- Take Cigna
Sound like you?
That’s probably because being a cardiologist in Boca Raton is the equivalent of watching a rotating group of corpses coming in and out of your exam room. It’s probably because patients are calling you non-stop for every slight sensation of tachycardia that accosts their 82-year-old ribs. And when you’ve got blood on your lab coat and your threading a wire through someone’s artery, you’re going to wish you were back at the office brainstorming with me on how to handle the influx of POTS patients raining down from as far as London to get in with you.
Believe me, guys–I get that this occupation can be a soul-crushing, nerve-wracking, throw-a-dart-on-the-patient-chart-to-see-who’s going-to-die-today kind of job.
But I’m the whole fucking reason you went into this field. I’m a complete enigma. I’m the jigsaw puzzle, rubics cube of patients. I’m going to be the fifteen minutes of your day where you’re going to rub your hands together and say–“You may not actually die before we find the right beta blocker for you.”
You’ve got choices, bro. You can be the dedication in someone’s obituary next week–or you can be on the “I couldn’t have done it without you” page in my first book. I could be the patient you’re invited to speak about at your alma mater where third-year med students are going to lean forward with their chins in their hands and think this guy is a fucking beast of medicine.
And let’s face some facts here. I’m a patient advocating, magazine writing, press release distributing, public relations machine–I’m either going to be your best friend or your worst enemy. I’m only asking for a little honesty and some mutual respect for patient’s time and tickers. Look at your patient load and think hard: do you really have time for me? And if I’m up front with you and tell you who I am and what I have: do you really want to take me on?
So let’s talk about about how I ended up with three bottles of failed beta blockers in my purse and and no viable options.
It starts with Dr. Heller–who let me tell you–is a hell of a doctor. Yale. Harvard. The whole picture. He’s the kind of cardiologist you desperately want on your side when POTS strikes. He’ll give you all your options. He’ll think outside the box. He’ll see you once every six months–if that, and prep for an average of at least two hours in wait time from double-triple-quadruple booking.
Doesn’t matter that he’s knowledgeable, has excellent bedside manner, and even though his schedule is batshit overloaded, he always puts his game face on for every patient.
And even though I was in good hands with him, and felt like the quality of care I received from him as a medical professional was above-par–I never had a conversation with a doctor’s secretary like I had the other day.
After a screwed up test scheduling, a lot of running around trying to get test results, and three different companies calling to demand I wear a 30 day heart monitor that he never discussed with me–I’d finally had enough and realized that if I was going to get my cardiac symptoms under control, I was going to need a doctor who would be able to communicate with me–who would have time for me. And as good as Heller is–he just doesn’t have time for me and he should have done the right thing and said so instead of letting things slip.
So I scheduled an appointment with another cardiologist in town and called Heller’s office to have them fax over my files.
“You want us to fax your files over to another cardiologist?” His secretary asked.
“You’re switching cardiologists?” She asked.
“I don’t know yet, I just think I want a second opinion for now,” I said.
I hold for about three minutes until she pops back on the line.
“If you want me to fax these over to the other doctor, then you’re done with Dr. Heller. You’re going to be pulled out of our system.”
I was confused.
“You’re saying that if I get a second opinion you’re going to kick me out of the practice?” I asked.
“And so if things don’t work out with this other cardiologist,” I say. “You’re telling me that I can never see Dr. Heller again?”
“Yes. That’s it.”
I was amazed and insulted.
“I’m going to need you to fax that.”
THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED. Have you ever heard of anything so stupid? Expelling a patient from a practice for getting a second opinion? I’m not dating you. We aren’t exclusive. There may be a ring on my finger, but you sure as hell didn’t put it there–so if I want to go to half the cardiologists in town. If I want to let them EKG the hell out of me, I’ve got every right.
So today I had another appointment scheduled with a new cardiologist. I have no idea if my files were faxed over. As far as I know the secretaries lit a bonfire in the waiting room, threw them into the flames and toasted marshmallows over them.
The office was in a really zen building with a rock garden and a water fountain in the middle. It was probably a great place to be when you thought you might be having a heart attack. Unfortunately, I could tell from the get-go that we might have a problem. The glass doors to the waiting room showed a full office and a lot of unhappy looking patients.
I wrote my name and time of appointment on the sign-in sheet and asked the secretary if there was any paperwork I needed to fill out a a new patient. She was really sweet and said to give her a second to look up my appointment because my name didn’t look familiar.
After another five minutes she said that my appointment wasn’t there and even though the doctor had the space of time open–he refused to see me.
At this point I wasn’t sure I really wanted to see him either. But I figured I’d ask anyways: “Does he have time for another patient?”
“We can’t schedule you today. I just told you….”
“No, I mean–like–in general?”
“He’s booked right until 5:30.”
“No, that’s not what I mean–I mean does he have too many patients right now? This room is really full. Does he really have time for another patient?”
After a quick glance around the room she said he did and how soon did I want to reschedule.