Follow-up call

Follow-up call
I felt a bit leery as I entered the doctor's office the other day. It wasn't so much the forty-foot flagpole adorned with the Stars and Stripes that remind us that we have the greatest healthcare in the world that put me off, it was the fact that the doctor had a logo, a fucking logo! It mostly consisted of his initials wrapped around each other so you had to look at it for a bit before you realized the purpose of the inane emblem.

The logo was in gold, perhaps because that's what he drills for when he works on his customers' (forget the word patient, just forget it)  defecatory canals. Anyway, his office just called me. At least his office was what the woman on the other end of the phone claimed to be.

Here's a transcript of the phone call, including my inner dialogue in parenthesis.

Ring! Ring!

Me: Hello

Dr Logo's Office: Hello, Barry?

Me: Yes? (How come my father was always "Mr. Crimmins" but I am only "Barry?" I'm 57 goddamned years old!)

Dr Logo's Office: This is Dr Logo's Office.

Barry: (Boy did your parents ever have a sense of humor!)

Dr Logo's Office: Did you get your blood test yet?

Barry: (Uh-oh, sounds like someone has been talking to the quislings down at St. Moneychangers'.)
No I didn't. I couldn't make it past financial customs at that for-profit Christian institution.

Dr Logo's Office: Well you know that without the blood tests you cannot have the colonoscopy?

Barry: I figured as much. I was trying to find a way to get the blood tests. (But I can tell by your tone that you are in a hurry to give me the preexisting bum's rush so that you can make sure there isn't a pause in the assembly line of profit on the day of my once-scheduled-but-never-to-be colonoscopy. Oh well.)

Dr Logo's Office: So you have CHOSEN not to have a colonoscopy!
crimmins 9117

Barry: (Is that what I said, you soulless sack of medical waste?) No, you have CHOSEN not to assist, or even listen to, a patient in need of a colonoscopy. Now that we've both put words in one another's mouths, let me add one more: Goodbye!

She beat me to hanging up the phone. And with that, I went back to my day and she went and added yet another skull and crossbones symbol to my permanent file.

I best own up to something: I don't suffer humiliation well. If they'd look in that permanent file, they'd know what I went through as a kid and maybe they'd understand that my dignity is a preexisting condition that survived against great odds. And maybe they wouldn't subject me to public embarrassment simply because they dance for corporate masters who have no business sticking their filthy, money-grubbing paws into what should be a sterile environment. So I can be very difficult. But maybe, just maybe, my obstinate nature has helped me survive 35 years of assault by a lethal virus.

I also must add that I have a great deal of respect for all sorts of doctors, nurses, technicians and other caregivers who are caught in the middle of this for-profit mess. They perform valiantly despite having to save lives while trying not to trip over a bottom line that runs all over the hospital next to all the color-coded ones. I think their schooling should be free. I think their services should be free to the public. (who will pay for them via taxes) I think we should scrap the war machine and its new mammoth twin, the domestic spying apparatus to help keep taxes down. I think these talented and skilled individuals should be very well paid. I also think if they want to become obscenely wealthy, they should go down to Wall St. and take their chances among the hegemonic hedge-funders. So that should prevent some arguments and start some others, which is good. Because to rage against the madness is an exercise reserved for the living. And I ain't dead yet.

This entire hassle has done me good. Right now, I feel a lot better than I have in a long time. Thanks to several of you folks, I have herbs and vitamins headed my way. Thanks to all of you who have written and commented, I've received the best kind of shot in the arm.

I spoke to my old pal A. Whitney Brown and told him what had happened and how many people had written to help and express support.

He said, "That's great. People really love you. You know that, right?"

Absolutely right! I feel very fortunate. People really love me. It's Dr. Logo's Office that doesn't much care for me.


Megan McWednesday, July 28th 2010 9:55PM

Barry, I have to say that the highlight for me of your very astute writing on this issue is that you moved "Doctor Dude" to write in and prove every single one of your points.  Three times in his post, he uses phrases like "people like you," "fit the profile," and "people with a lack of money" (and we all know that is the worst disease of all!).  His smugness is only outdone by his blatant self absorption (after all he has a family, and a tee time to make, not to mention the payments on his 4 cars, and huge mansion).  Really Barry, how thoughtless of you to be sick!  I find it astonishing that he references the HIPPA regulations, as you rights under that law were clearly violated in his very office.
Sometimes it does take a true outrage to get one going again.  As Johnny Lydon pointed out "anger is an energy."  In that way,"Dr. Dude, family man" may have provided you with the best medicine of all, ironically through every fault of his own.
I hope you continue to get well and to insist on the quality of health care you deserve, and thank you for sharing your story to create a positive change for everyone.

Megan, Thanks so much for your reply. I'm pretty sure I wasn't in his office although from the way he writes, he sounds more like a hypervigilant medical hall monitor (aka/ billing office bureaucrat) than a doctor. Doctors should know how hard it is to sue them. For starters cases go nowhere until another doctor corroborates the complaint against the sued physician. People's attitudes have nothing to do with this. So stop lying or bullshitting, Dude.

Of course Doctor Dude could clear thisl up by identifying himself. But then, that might lead him to public humiliation since there are no HIPPA requirements for me to fulfill around here.

This clown and a nurse on Huffpost have pretty much tried to impose a "NO TALKING" edict upon me. Too late! I have talked and a lot of people have responded -- many of them are perfectly wonderful members of the medical community.

And you're right. I couldn't be more profiled if I were driving down the Jersey Pike with a "Free Mumia" bumpersticker on my car.

For the benefit of billing dude, I think it's time to invoke the ancient Celtics/Lakers NBA Finals rule: If you're going to bring that shit down the lane, be prepared to make your free-throws because your layup sure as hell isn't going in.

Thanks, Megan!

Dr. DudeWednesday, July 28th 2010 7:18PM

The reason you have to fill out the same paperwork for every site you visit is also a nice government rule called HIPPA.  It would be nice if we could all share your orginal paperwork, but even if we work in the same building we can't do that if the practices are not fully integrated.  We could be sued for that too.  The government fine for HIPAA violations is 50,000 dollars per incident.  I just wish you would understand their is another viewpoint to all of this.

Dr. DudeWednesday, July 28th 2010 7:10PM

I understand that you have a chip on your shoulder from various things that have happened to you, but when people like you come into my office you scare the hell out of me and of course I and all the other doctors are a little leery of serving you.  You did choose not to get the colonoscopy when you decided to walk out of the hospital and not go through all the nonsense in order to get your testing done.  When people come in already sarcastic, sabotaging their care, and you can tell they have major issues against the health care system then we are really afraid.  Our experience is that people who fit your profile are more likely to sue, so what do we get out of it?  We provide some free care (the government programs never pay.  They always find an excuse.  So we know when someone comes in like that we aren't going to get paid) and even though we are willing to provide some free care it's usually people with your attitude and lack of money that try to sue us.  We have to protect ourselves.  What if the lawsuit is for more than our insurance?  Then we go bankrupt, lose our kids' college funds, etc.  The fact that you de-legitimize our fears is one reason why people like you are more likely to sue, and one reason why people like me are afraid to have you in our clinics. Nothing personal, but I am a human being with a family.  I'm also trapped in this system, and I have to protect myself and my family from predators trying to bankrupt us.  You may not be the kind that would sue, but you fit the profile so we don't want you in our clinics.  If you could be more polite and cooperative you would probably eventually get care and the doctors wouldn't be so afraid.  We didn't design the system.  We are trapped in all this paperwork and over-regulation too.  All those forms you had to fill out multiple times?  Those are required by government and insurance companies.  We don't like them either.  Don't take it out on us.


SJohnTucsonWednesday, July 28th 2010 3:04AM

Wow, I've heard of you for years, but somehow managed to miss reading you until now. Shame, that, my life could have been much richer, but better late than never. Thank Wolcott for pointing me to you!

I live in terror, literally, that I will need another colonoscopy at some point. You see, I needed one ten years ago, and after I had it, found out my insurance didn't cover it. Eight hundred dollars was more than I could afford, so, as my own Dr. Logo's Office eventually pointed out to me, I am now locked out of their scheduling system. This being Tucson, I don't have a lot of alternative butt photographers to choose from....

I don't have enough to give you anything monitary at this point (and I realize by saying that, I may be causing you pain & embarrassment that you ever asked, to which I reply: get over it!), but maybe later I can, and until then, here's a couple of bad jokes to tide you over:

Q: What do proctologists do when they go back to their home towns?
A: Look up old friends!

And then there was the proctologist who was examining his patient under poor lighting conditions. He turns to his nurse and said "Give me a light!" So she hands him a beer. Causing him to shout "No, butt light!"

(Yeah, the last one's got a whiff of corporate whoorishness about it, but after all it is a joke about proctologists)

Continue to get better, I want to keep reading you now that I've found you!
-SJohn in Tucson

RickSunday, July 25th 2010 9:48PM

oh man. Colonoscopy.

I finally went to the For-Profit Religious Hospital cuz I couldn't walk no more. I'd done my research, and knew I had a blocked artery somewhere. Both my legs hurt like hell. I couldn't climb stairs. I couldn't mow the f**in lawn. The doctor I saw was in a subsidiary clinic. Vascular clinic. I told him what symptoms I had, he palpated my hip, and said yep blocked artery. I can't pay for this doc, I said. No problem, hospital has a charity fund. We'll work it out. You just need to be attended. So they admitted that same day two hours later. Not one but two blocked arteries at the iliac arch. 99% one, 89% the other. No small wonder I was a crip. Two stents and four hours later, I was a new man.

In comes the nurse. Have you had a colonoscopy? You're 50. Need a colonoscopy. Nope, I said. OK. Doctor will come by for an assessment. Dr. Whozits comes by. Question A, question B. Answers in the affirmative. Nothing wrong with your colon. But you need a colonoscopy. Here's my card.

Get the bill.

Two hundred and fifty fuckin' bucks to be told I'm supposed to get a colonoscopy.

Twenty nine grand for two reamed arteries.

Had to apply for Medicare. I can't have Medicare for depression; nope. No SSI or disability for that, even though it's chronic for 20 years now. Documented. But I can qualify for fuckin' Medicare to get the Religious Hospital paid for their fuckin' 28 grand double-ream. I get bupkis.

I'm not "permanently" disabled, because I won't DIE from my disability. Literally. That's the SSI SSDI law.

Glad you're feelin' OK, dude. I'll be OK, too.

JudeFriday, July 23rd 2010 3:09PM

Brilliant piece, Barry. I'd tell you to keep fighting the bastards but I already know you will.  You sure as hell don't need me to remind you.

I'm with you, brother.

Thanks, Jude! I know you are taking it to 'em, too! Much love, BC


Tried to send Amazon money...Friday, July 23rd 2010 10:11AM

I tried to send you an Amazon gift thingie but they didn't recognize as an email address, and it got bounced.

That's very nice of you. The domain name is "crimmIns "not CrimmOns. Thanks so much, Barry

CharlieThursday, July 22nd 2010 5:05PM

You know, what really sucks is that no matter how many little humorous spins we put on this, the big pig fu%*ers JUST DON"T CARE!
Oh sure, they'll feed you lip service (instead of drugs and health care) but next to none of them (a few exceptions) will upset the system.
Maybe you can head down to Arizona and see if they'll deport you to Cuba where health care is a human right.