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IMPLODING

16 August 2002

I really, really didn't need the conversation with the lab today. It was kind of the punctuation mark in a day that just seems to have spiraled out of control.

I don't actually know if it's the day that's out of control, or if it's my coping mechanisms that are out of control. I'm not even sure when it started feeling like things were unravelling.

I think it was when I got the overdue notice on the bill for the office computer. My first thought was that the overdue notice must have passed in the mail with the check I sent, but when I went through the checkbook, I realized I never sent the check. HUGE oversight. Made even more huge by the fact that we'd gone over the bills due and the balance in the checkbook and made decisions of which bills to pay now and which could be put off. The overdue notice came after I'd sent all the bills, reducing our bank balance to a minimal amount.

When I told Dr. G that I had not, after all, mailed the computer check and showed him how little we had in the checkbook, he asked me if I was sure the figures were right. I think that's the moment when there was a little "boing" in the wires holding my brain together. Uh....no, I am not sure the figures are right. Business at the office has increased so dramatically since Dr. G was interviewed by a magazine recently, that it's all I can do to keep up with the day to day stuff, the messages on the answering machine, the patients needing assistance, the phones ringing off the hook to take the time to balance the checkbook too.

I wasn't really worried about it because Dr. G is going on vacation all of next week and most of the following week, so I've set things like that aside for when he's not in the office and things are more quiet and unhurried.

But somehow I have to find enough money to pay for the computer--and I'm hoping that I've made some terrible checkbook error and I'll suddenly discover we have a couple of thou' more than my calculations show.

It was noontime and it was obvious that I had lots to do before the end of the day, so I took an hour or so off to go to the bank and then get something to eat. When I got back to the office, Dr. G had gone home, leaving another stack of work for me to do (I have to admit I was a bit put out because he'd put his out-box on my desk chair, as if to say that he didn't expect I'd remember to look in the out-box unless he did that.)

One of the things he wanted me to do was to call the lab where we send patients for tests and to find out "Which is the current best test for Pheochromocytoma -- 24-hr. urine for catecholamines or serum VMA? Or is there another test recommended?"

He spelled "pheochromocytoma" phonetically for me (fee-o-kromo-cyTOma) to make sure I got it right, which further irked me because I've been typing this stuff for 15 years and I not only can pronounce pheochromocytoma, but I can spell it as well. There are some days (like yesterday) when he treats me like an equal and gives me all sorts of things to do autonomously, and other days (like today) when he acts as if I've never worked in a medical office before.

So I called the lab. After wading through options in three different voice mail menus, I determined that there was no option of "technical support" so I waited on the line for a real live operator to answer ("your call is very important to us..." Does anybody ever admit "we don't give a fig about you and we're going to keep you on the line as long as possible while we have our coffee break?")

I asked the operator for technical support; she said she would connect me to customer service. I had a feeling this was not going to be easy.

Our conversation went something like this:

CS: Can I help you?

ME: I'd like to get some information on which tests you are running for a diagnosis of pheochromocytoma.

CS: For what?

ME: pheochromocytoma.

CS: Can you spell that please? Theo...what?

ME: Not Theo...pheo.  p-h-e-o-c-h-r-o-m-o-c-y-t-o-m-a.

CS: I can't even find that test in my book.

ME: It's not a test. It's a diagnosis. I need to know what tests you are running for a patient with that diagnosis.

CS: I don't understand your question.   We'll do whatever test the doctor wants.

ME: We need to know which is the current best test to order for a patient with the diagnosis of Pheochromocytoma -- 24-hr. urine for catecholamines or serum VMA? Or is there another test recommended?

CS: I don't have a medical background.  I can't give you that information unless you tell me which test you want to run.

ME: That's the point. I want to find out which tests to run. Isn't there some technical support person I can talk to?

CS: That would be me. But I don't have the medical background to answer your question.

ME: I mean isn't there someone with medical background for me to talk to?

CS: We have different technicians for different tests. If you tell me which test you want to run, I can connect you.

At this point I just hung up, making some snide comment about how silly it was of me to expect a medical laboratory to have someone with medical expertise. The only good thing was that I didn't give her my name or Dr. G's name, so I don't think there will be repercussions.

That pretty much was all I could handle at the office today, and I left the mountain on my desk and got into the car to come home. I have a ton of letters to put together for Dr. G tonight, but before I do that, I have to cook dinner, go see a play and then come home to write the review. Then I can do the letters. With luck I'll be able to squeeze in a couple of hours of sleep before Cindy comes to get me to go bike riding at 5 a.m.

(I don't even want to think about the "big tape" that Dr. G swears he gave me which is absolutely NOWHERE to be found around here. With luck, I won't have to confess that to him until he gets back from vacation. Maybe there's a good reason why he sometimes treats me as if I've never worked in a medical office before.)


BTW, go read Steve's account of the premier of The Big Voice.  There has been such enthusiasm for the show that there is now talk of taking it on tour.  Talk it up to your local theatres!


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Thank you for nominating my entry, Moving On for a DiaristNet award!

Quote of the Day

Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility.

-James Thurber

Picture of the Day

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We went onto the set of Star Trek TNG and discovered that on the control panel, the set designers had printed this little hamster in a wheel--forget dilithium crystals--this is what really powered the Enterprise!

One Year Ago
The "I Love Steve" Club
The guy knows how to work an audience. And what makes it special is that no matter how many times I hear him tell the stories (I can probably tell his "Potsie story" or his "Sharon Stone story" myself by now), I'm never unmoved by them.


Two Years Ago
Tech support??

LOL---I can't believe that I was fuming about tech non-support a year ago too!
I offer to fax the manual to him so he can read it. He says he can find a copy of the manual. I ask him if he’s ever seen this program. He admits that he has not.


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Pounds Lost:  72.2
(this figure is updated on Tuesdays)

On the Odometer:  506.1
(hey--I made my goal:  500 mi in 2002)


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