Can I Expect a Personal Chimney to Help My Shoulder Feel Better?

I do not think what I expect when I deal with medical professionals is unrealistic.  I do not expect them to be God, but I do expect them to give me the most accurate information they have.  When I speak to the support staff in a physician’s office, I expect they will give me the information I need to make a decision.

Steve and I haven’t been sure how we feel about his neurologist.  We have debated making a change, but we don’t know how to select a new neurologist, and frankly, we don’t know the pros and cons of such a decision or what to expect as the outcome.

During my recent attendance at the Alzheimer’s conference and a caregiver’s luncheon, I encountered two physicians that seemed like they would be wonderful!  They care about their patients, are knowledgable, and communicate with their patients.  What an awesome combination!

Steve and I talked about trying out these doctors, one a primary care doctor, and the other a neurologist.  Steve suggested I call and find out what it would cost for him to see the neurologist.

I called the number I found on the internet and was transferred to the scheduler.  I expected to speak to someone someone about setting up an appointment.  Instead I reached a voice mail message that told me the person was either in the clinic or the community.  I wasn’t sure I had reached the right person, so I called back.  When I received the same message, I left my message explaining why I was calling.  I expected to receive a call back the same day.  When I did not, and since I really wasn’t sure I had reached the right person the first time, I left another message. Both messages were polite.

I received a return call and the woman was not very happy with me.  Because I had left two messages, she though that our situation was urgent and sounded annoyed.  This is not the reaction I expect from someone with whom I am hoping to develop a working relationship.

I asked about the cost of a visit.  There is a facility fee because their offices are in a university hospital. Then there is the doctor’s fee.  By the time you add these two together, the cost is almost $800 for a visit!  WOW!!!  We currently pay $250 to see Steve’s neurologist, and I thought that was expensive!  I frankly expected that the cost to see this doctor would be the same or less.  (When Steve and I later discussed the cost, we agreed we would not be pursing these doctors at this time.)

Steve had seen a psychologist associated with these doctors and I don’t know what I expected to come of it, but I gave permission for the scheduler to talk to Dr. O.  Yesterday I received a phone call.  The scheduler told me that they had an opening in January they were holding for us because Dr. O felt we should be seen sooner rather than later.  Scheduler said Steve would see two doctors, have neuropsych testing (again?!?!?) and possibly blood tests.  Because of all this, she had no idea what we should expect for the cost of the visit.  Since Steve’s insurance is for an HMO, we were expected to pay all costs associated with the visit.  She would mention our situation to the doctors involved and maybe they would reduce their costs.  But maybe not.

Okay, seriously, how could she expect that I would book a visit when I don’t know the cost? My thought is that it could be $1600 at the rate of $800 a doctor!  Steve and I talked and decided that I would get in touch with Dr. O, and unless she said Steve was dying, we were not going to be seeing these doctors.

Dr. O responded within a couple of hours to the e-mail I sent her last night.  She apologized for causing me “distress” and said there was no clinical reason, but that she didn’t want us to wait a long time for our visit.

I called the scheduler today and left a message that we were not interested in seeing their doctors at this time, and that if our situation changes in the future we may call for an appointment and that if we do call, we realize it may be quite a while before we get an appointment. I do not expect to ever hear from her again.

Meanwhile, for the past month or more, my right shoulder has been in pain.  I have been seeing my chiropractor, putting ice on it, heating it, and shifting my position when I sleep.  I even switched to a lighter purse and have been very careful about what I carry in it!  The shoulder pain persists but it has improved.

Finally, the chimney on our house gets a lot of use at this time of year.  We enjoy having a fire in our fireplace whenever it’s cool, like in the 60’s or lower!  The chimney allows us to vent the smoke out of the house.  Sometimes I think I need a chimney so I could vent safely whenever there is a need.  I can’t expect that it would make my shoulder feel better, but maybe it would help.


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3 Comments on "Can I Expect a Personal Chimney to Help My Shoulder Feel Better?"

Profile photo of
Dec 5, 2012

Hi G-J,

All of what you describe seems to bring me back to thinking about communication within the medical community. One of the main reasons our carees need us (:

I’m so glad you continue to communicate what is needed with the many doctors involved in Steve’s care. You do a wonderful job. Your patience and politeness are added evidence of that.

I hope your shoulder is better very soon and that you continue to vent (with or without a chimney) as needed.

Thinking of each of you today.

Profile photo of ejourneys
Dec 5, 2012

Hi, G-J — The doctor shenanigans are a pain in more ways than one. We were almost roped into duplicate neuropsych testing last year — we had to make a special overnight trip so that my partner could give the doctor written permission to contact the testing center to learn that she had taken the exact same tests the month before.

Bless you for persevering through the medical and financial maze. If I were there I’d offer you a shoulder massage. I hope you get some relief soon.

Profile photo of Trish
Dec 5, 2012

G-J, Oh my! I hope your shoulder is feeling better soon. I like ejourney’s idea of a shoulder massage! Is this the same side as the elbow problem you were having? I hope it clears up soon.

I’m sorry about the frustration with the neurologists (well, their office staff & cost). It is tough to find someone you really connect with and who is knowledgeable and communicative. I was so sad when Robert’s neuro left the university hospital where he is seen.

You’re doing everything you can do – being persistent, doing your research and following up. All I can do is say I expect you will continue to be a wonderful caregiver! :-)