The doctor said she would order an endoscopy, and that the endoscopy people would call me to schedule it. If I didn’t hear from them by Friday, I should call her back.
I didn’t hear from them by Friday. I called her back Monday. (…Okay, I called her back a week after that, because I didn’t want to call and I was still hoping to hear from the endoscopy people without having to do this.) I was on hold long enough to fill the dishwasher, finish William’s driver’s ed paperwork, empty the dish-drying rack, go downstairs for a new roll of paper towels and box of matches, and put away a Target bag of stuff I never got around to putting away yesterday.
The receptionist came on the line. She said oh, yes, sometimes the scheduler doesn’t get around to calling, but I could call the scheduler myself to get the process going more quickly. She gave me the number.
I called the number. I was on hold for long enough to get out my insurance card, tidy up the bathroom, and start dealing with the Mail Pile on the counter. The person who picked up the line had no idea what I was talking about. No idea at all. She could not really believe I was calling her, or why. She said they don’t have access to any of that information. She said they can only do what the doctor instructs them to do. She asked incredulously did I even know which doctor was doing the endoscopy? I said I did not. I repeated that my doctor’s office had told me to call this number. I added that my doctor had forwarded the information; was there any way to access it from there? No, this was impossible. They don’t even SCHEDULE endoscopies from this number, they only REGISTER them. …Okay, I have no idea what you are talking about, I guess I am the only one in the history of time who has been given this number by a doctor, I guess alllllll the other patients know exactly who in the GIGANTIC COMPLICATED MEDICAL SYSTEM to call about what, thank you for less than nothing and also for the unpleasant attitude as if I’m the idiot here rather than someone who is JUST FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS. (Actual Swistle words: “Okay! Well, thank you anyway, I guess I’ll give them a call back! Bye!”)
I had a little frustrated almost-weep. Watched Upside Down & Inside Out for distraction and a mental re-set. Went to the phone. Called my doctor. Was on hold long enough to play two rounds of Candy Crush. Their on-hold information recording has deteriorated considerably, and now sounds like “Here at bzztt bz pssshhhh YOUR HEALTH Is the bzt bzt bsssssstttss in your hands! Come to our pss psss pssssssssss BZT for convenient online ZZT bssssttsss….dot com!” Talked to someone else this time, so had to re-explain the situation.
She looked in my file and found that the information/order had been sent to a particular GI doctor at the end of March. She said they absolutely should have called me by now. She suggested I contact that office directly. She gave me the number. I called that office. A receptionist picked up with a tone of voice that communicates what a burden it is to have to deal with patients: “Good morning this is Nancy can you hold please there are two calls ahead of yours.” I held. After a minute, the call disconnected. I called back. “Good morning this is Nancy can you hold please I am dealing with a patient.”
I held. I was on hold long enough to adjust the time on the one-minute-off microwave clock, even though that meant consulting the manual. Thank heavens, though, it wasn’t Nancy who finally got back to me, it was friendly-sounding Lauren. “Hi! Have you been helped?” I said not yet, and she said, as if she would really be happy to do it, “Okay! How can I help you?”
I told her that my doctor had told me to call, and why. She was puzzled, but game to figure out what was going on. She looked in the computer and found me, and confirmed that they had all the information and the referral. But… “We have a scheduler who does all the scheduling. So I’ll leave her a message and she’ll call you, okay?”
I spent more than half an hour on the phone with FIVE different people to be almost exactly where I was before: waiting for a scheduler to call me. It was frustrating, I spent a lot of time on hold, and I didn’t encounter a high percentage of people who could do anything except give me another number. I had one conversation with someone who seemed actually hostile, and two brief encounters with someone who hates her job. I am left mentally arguing with EVERYONE. Except Lauren. Lauren was really nice.