Second Go

After about three weeks of coming to grips with the possibility of dying and/or the possibility of having my heart ripped out (most teenagers use that phrase as a poetic mantra; I mean it literally), I had a second appointment.

I won’t describe what the doctor said here; it’s basically the same thing: “the ascending part of the aorta has dilated because of the stenosis of the valve. We need to run some tests.” He did assure me, however that the machines the first doctor used were not as accurate as the machines he will use and from what he’s seen, it might not be as bad as I was led to believe.

We got off on exit 3 and parked in the blue lot.

The thing I want to focus on is the appointment itself. I drove about 90 minutes to get there because they’re by far the best in the state and probably top five in the country. When we found the complex we realized that we were staring at a hospital roughly the size of a medium-sized airport – complete with exits and long-term parking. When we finally found the particular concourse and terminal we were supposed to check in to, I noticed a sign that said, “If your wait time is more than 20 minutes, please let us know.” Then they gave us a little light-up coaster like they do at Applebee’s.

When we got into the smaller waiting room we were met by a nurse’s assistant who did all the height/weight/temperature/question stuff. Then the nurse came in and talked about heart conditions in general and chatted a little bit about my exercise and eating habits. Then the doctor came in and talked about my particular ailment. I even got a review checklist for each of the people that came in assuring me that these particular items would be covered. It was very organized and very fast. It was sort of like how an airport is supposed to run (if you didn’t have a mob of people making $9.50 an hour who could be fired at any minute running the place).

But then came the check-out.

The secretary asked if the next appointment was urgent. I don’t know.

The secretary asked if I needed bloodwork done beforehand. I don’t know.

The secretary asked if I needed two separate appointments. I don’t know.

Each of these questions should’ve been answered by one of the assistants as I was leaving. Someone should’ve said, “Now make sure you tell the appointment lady that you need blood work for the test (which should be done today, since you’re here). Tell her that the next appointment should be sometime in the next month or two (nothing too urgent). Also let her know because you live so far away that you should just get the test done in the morning and the consultation done in the afternoon.” But they didn’t.

The receptionist had to call the doctor’s personal assistant to see if I needed the next appointment soon; that took an extra 20 minutes. Then the receptionist had to call some other doctor because my doctor and his assistant were busy; I don’t care what some other doctor has to say, but it took another 35 minutes for that. Then we had to find the doctor to see if he would be able to conduct a test and read the results in the same day. We had to wait for the doctor to finish with the next rehearsed speech with the next patient before he was able to say “yes” or “no.”

The appointment took about an hour-and-a-half. Making the next appointment took just as long.

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