Friday, 9 June 2017

Rant On!

It would be reasonably fair to say that I have been under intense medical coverage since I was diagnosed with ALS on November 22,  2012. This is not to say constant medical treatment; I have gone weeks and even months without seeing a doctor or medical professional, other than my pharmacist across the road at Safeway. And up until today, I have had few, if any, reasons to complain about my treatment, both medically and as an individual.

I've gone through a lot with doctors and other medical professionals. I've been poked, stuck with needles, assessed, undressed, prodded and pushed. I've had every muscle in my body tested on a continuing basis. I've been handled by medical students, new neurologists, doctors covering for other doctors, and nurses beyond measure. In all of this, only once or twice did I get a feeling that the doctor was not listening or the nurse failed to pay attention. Even then, it was forgivable; there's a lot of pressure on these folks, not from me so much as from the demands of their work.

Well, today it finally happened, with, of all people, my family doctor. I am new to him and he is new to me, so perhaps this is just a learning curve, but I think not. He has a policy of not renewing prescriptions or providing any other services unless he sees the patient in person. This is understandable in many cases, and, thanks to our medical system, he only gets paid if he sees the patient. Therefore it is in his best interest financially to insist on seeing me before renewing a prescription. I get it.

On the other hand, getting in to see him is difficult. In addition the prescription for which I was seeking renewal, using the common practice at the pharmacy of faxing the request to his office, is one he issues for one month at a time, therefore guaranteeing I go to see him at least once a month. Furthermore he does the prescription with no renewals. So I have to get into his office to get what is a constant and chronic medication, for a constant and chronic issue.

So today I called his office. His receptionist was extremely aggressive and rude to me, saying that I was a chronic problem for the doctor in terms of my medications and medical needs. I found it both insulting and funny at the same time, that she would call me a chronic problem. No kidding. I have fucking ALS. That's a chronic illness! She made me feel terrible simply because I wanted the medications prescribed by my doctor.

She was even more aggravated when I told her I was going away next Friday and wanted these medications before I went. She said the doctor needed at least a week to ten days notice before any appointment. I pointed out that I was going away next Friday, a week from today, and that they had already had the request for three days. She offered one choice for an appointment, that one being Wednesday morning right in the middle of my Home Care appointment.

When I told her I couldn't make that one, that's when she hauled out the lecture about me being a chronic problem. I think I may have had four interactions with the doctor's office, so I guess I am a chronic problem. That's four interactions! She basically said that was my only choice if I wanted my medications.

What this doctor and his receptionist don't understand is that I have a terrific support resource in the ALS Clinic and the ALS Society. I call the Clinic and asked if one of their doctors could renew the prescription by fax. After I explained the situation to the nurse at the Clinic, she said I needed to look for another family doctor. She also said "No problem. Fax it over and I will get is signed on Monday."

Every single medication I take is a life long medication, with the notable exception of the odd time when I need an antibiotic for a bladder infection. There is no need for a month by month approach. The doctor could easily prescribe for a year in advance. The pharmacy will fill 90 days in advance, four times a year. It's a good system and I have it for most of my other prescriptions, those prescribed by other doctors.

This doctor's approach is basically a money issue. I get it. We all need money, especially a doctor, with high expenses and medical school to pay for. But putting me at risk, refusing to refill a prescription in a timely manner, is unprofessional, and completely lacking in compassion. I agree with the nurse at the ALS Clinic. It's time for a new family doctor.


  1. You have every right to be outraged, angered !
    As you said " you have #%*£ ALS " its not like your a patient wanting a little extra Valium !

  2. Kick these people to the curb! You deserve better!

  3. Unfrigginbelievable. Insensitive, unprofessional, cold... I can't even. So sorry you had to go through this, glad the ALS clinic could help you out. And yeah, a new doctor would be good too. Hugs.

  4. Disgusting behavior. Move on.

  5. BS! Get a new doctor. Unbelievable. ; (

  6. You should 'out' them. Put his name in your blog as well as that of his receptionist! Post his name on ALS related sites! You may save others from such an outrageous doctor.