Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Going Postal

For those of you who don't know me that well, my first and usually last resort to getting what I need out of difficult situations is to be very sweet and nice and appeal to a person's human sense of decency and understanding. That's not to say that I can't be firm and direct, but I've found that strangers usually respond better to me be humble and appreciate rather than loud and proud. On the other hand, Dalton is much more likely to either raise his voice and get in someone's face or be bitingly sarcastic in order to get what he needs. Perhaps it's the male/female dynamic, but our particular techniques seem to work for us and fail for the other. So, we respect but do not share these approaches.

That is until yesterday...

Were it not for the fact that Dr. Stephen Demeester, a top world renowned surgeon for these types of malignant tumors, is associated with USC Norris Cancer Center, we would have been on way to City of Hope weeks ago. As a whole, USC Norris is the least organized, most innefficient, most patient ignorant, clueless hospital I have ever seen. Keep in mind that I am not speaking from lack of experience. I worked in the medical industry for many years, my mom managed a clinic for 25 years, and during her battle with ovarian cancer, she was a regular patient at two of the other National Cancer Institue centers in SoCal - City of Hope and UCI Chao.

I will spare you the details of most of the incompetence, but suffice it to say that yesterday was a VERY ROUGH DAY. By the time I reached the pharmacy (which by the way is not anywhere near the cancer center), I was at the end of my rope. They were in the the process of giving Dalton his first dose of radiation, the chemo was hitting him very hard, and we still had no anti-nausea medicine. The radiation oncolgist who can't seem to form comlete sentences and only speaks Neanderthal had finally managed to eek out a couple of intelligable phrases implying that the nausea would peak 1-3 hours after the radiation. When I explained that we still had no meds for the nausea he simply answered. "That someone else give you."

I took the sheet of discharge prescriptions and trecked up to the University pharmacy, confirmed that they had insurance and politely, sweetly, and humbly asked if they had the zofran in stock as that was the only one of the meds that I really needed right away. Keep in mind that the radiation is already underway. The cashier looked at the form and said "This is a carbon copy of the prescription. We need the original." I politely showed her on the form where it clearly stated the the white copy stayed with Dalton's medical records and the canary copy (the one we had) went with the patient. She took it over to her supervisor who shook her had and said "They know better than this."

When the cashier uttered the phrase, "Should I send her back up to Norris to get the right form?" I lost it. And I lost it worse than I have ever lost it in public before. I began pounding on the counter and yelling at the top of my lungs, "YOU ARE NOT SENDING ME BACK OVER THERE. THIS IS THE MOST INCOMPETANT PLACE I HAVE EVER BEEN TO. MY HUSBAND IS HAVING HIS RADIATION AS WE SPEAK AND HE IS GOING TO NEED THIS MEDICATION. DAMNIT, SOMEONE FIX IT."

The whole palce turned in unison to look a the nutjob. Some looked scared. Some were chuckling. Most were just shocked. At that point the supervising pharmacist walked over and asked me where the records were and in between sobs I explained that he had ust been discharged, and that his records were still on the third floor of the Norris cancer center. SHe told me that she would call over and get the information she needed, and "Why don't I just take a seat."

Yes I was embarrassed. I was also raging mad. I sat down and waited for about 15 minutes, and then I realized that I need to pick Dalton up from the radiation. I told the supervisor that I would be back in a few minutes and she said it would be ready by then.

Guess what? When I got back, some other clueless unsuspecting cashier told me "Everything is ready but the Zofran. That one needs prior auth from teh doctor for the insurance company to cover it."

"That's the ONLY one I need today." I loundly stated.

At that point, Supervisor Sherrie, scurried over and said, "I have some bad news." I swear, she must have thought I was go postal on her and start shooting. "They won't listen to us, but I've called the doctor and he is talking to them now."

"How much would it cost for me just to buy 2 of the tablets to get Dalton through the night?"

"They are $388.82 each."

I was thinking about it when she said, "Just give me a few minutes and we should have it taken care of."

Fifteen minutes later, we were no closer to a solution.

At that point, Sherrie became superwoman. "I can give you two tablets tonight, but you'll have to come back tomorrow."

That was no problem because we had to be back at 7:45 for the next radiation anyway. I took the tablets, thanked her profusely and headed to the car. Unfortunately, the whole fiasco took so long that Dalton's nausea was already peaking and by the time he got the Zofran on his tongue, he got about 1/2 of it dissolved and proceeded to wretch. He threw up twice more on the way home, no small task for someone whose esophagus is completed blocked by a tumor.

Last night, he was clearly suffering from the effects of all this "treatment", but at least he was home. They came by later in the evening to deliver the food pump and all the associated supplies. I'll write more on that later. We've got to get ready to head up there for his next treatment. Since we're heading toward downtown along with the other 4 million people, we've got to get a move on. Thanks for listenting to me rant. Sometimes postal is the only way to get things done.


Blogger Laurie said...

I really don't know what to say to you......I truly hope this doctor is worthy of all the two of you are going through. Trish, how about writing or printing out all of this stuff and sending it to the administration of the hospital, if you tell me they are as incompetent as their employees, ya know honey, I would be thinking really, really, really hard about the City of Hope. Your Mom thougbt the world of them, as you know, and although this doctor is the best!!!????? the people who are responsible for taking care of Dalton are incompetent, lacking compassion, stupid and intolerable. I am proud of you that you did go postal and you are certainly right....sometimes a situation causes you to take a different path...

I think of all of you everyday and am sad and feel helpless. Keep doing whatever it is you are doing to maintain some sanity and strength. If ranting is what you need to do, call me. I am here for you...Love

12:07 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

I totally forgot to mention....Does Iain looks resemble the Chowning side of the family or what?????? Actually, Dalton is so good-looking that in the picture he looks pretty cheery. Of course, seeing his son must certainly put a smile on his face.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tricia - Iain is adorable as Winnie. That's what Mark was too and Madeline was piglet, and last year Mark was Eeyore, so if you ever need anymore "100 Acre-Wood" costumes, let me know because we have a closet full.

Also, I just went through my cabinets and found a bottle that still has 4 zofrans in it from when I was sick. They are free to you guys if you want them. I had no idea they were so expensive!
Love and Prayers, Michelle Reynolds Lowe

1:41 PM  

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