Sunday, April 18, 2010

Can House Come to My House?

by Leann

I have rarely watched medical shows on TV over the years, mostly because I am a nurse and I knew when they were getting it wrong. That bothered me. But this year, I have added not one, but four medical shows to my list. Trauma is a great show because of the characters. But, not that realistic. Still, there is a lot of action and it keeps me glued. I watched Hawthorne last year because I like Jada Pinkett-Smith. VERY unrealistic show. Nurses diagnosing? I don't think so. And yet she was doing it week after week. I loved screaming at the TV. Nice catharsis. The newest addition is Miami Medical, another trauma show featuring numerous characters who think they're God. Now that's realistic. Sorry, docs. I was an RN for 35 years and it's true.

Why, you may ask, am I watching this stuff after I've just criticized most of the shows? Because I am looking for answers. Haven't found them from my own doctors, haven't found them from the Internet, haven't found them in books, so why not hunt for them in fiction? Lyme, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and multiple chemical sensitivies are all very real medical problems and very invisible. I have been diagnosed with all of them. Lyme is the only one where I can point to a blood test and say-yeah, got that. Unfortunately other tests to diagnose these problems are just as invisible as the diseases. More so. They don't exist.

Now we come to House, a show I tried to stay away from despite the critical acclaim. But now I am hooked. This show is probably more of a fantasy than any of the others I've mentioned. Why? Because doctors like on that show don't exist--at least in my experience. It takes way too much time to give attention to the intriguing and difficult-to-diagnose problems they deal with on House. And boy do those bunch of docs care. Even Gregory House cares, though he pretends not to. My current doctor used to care but she is just too busy now. And my issues are too complex. As for her staff? They couldn't care less. I have to be my own advocate when I deal with them and it's a good thing I know how to read prescriptions. Every time they screw up--which is pretty often--I wonder what it must be like for an eighty-year-old person to fix something they've done wrong. The calling, the voicemails never answered, and the e-mail--which the doctor's office prefers. If you can't see or hear very well, if you haven't been brought up in the techno age and know how to do e-mail, how in the heck can you get your problems solved? You can't. You sure better have a younger family member who can help you.

I am reminded of that old Crosby-Stills-and Nash song ... Teach Your Children Well. And House? If you want a messed up patient who could use your help, call me. Oh. I forgot. You don't exist.

How about you? Do you need a Dr. House to make a house call? What about your aging parents or other relatives? How well do they navigate the medical system? How well will you manage in the years to come?

19 comments:

Vicki said...

I had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia about 10 years ago, and went to doctors to see if they could now see if I was any better...what a waste that was. Since it's so hard to diagnose in the first place, it's really hard to diagnose in the second place, so to speak. More recently, I had gone to my primary in Feb and had blood drawn for tests. A week went by, then 2, they never called me. Finally, I called them and the nurse or assistant left a message saying that something was wrong with the blood they drew and they needed to do it again. Really? That's the best you can do? Then why not call me first to tell me. I think they lost it and forgot all about it, but I'll never get that version.

Andrea C. said...

The first part of your post sounds like my parents. Both have been in the nursing profession my entire life (my mom is retired though) and although they watch the medical dramas, they talk about how unrealistic it is!
I think medicine has just become a business, and because of it, the we are not getting the time, attention, diagnosis, and treatment we need and deserve! Small town doctors years ago may not have had the answers, but at least they would listen!

Leann Sweeney said...

Ah, Vicki. That sounds so familiar. Something wrong with the blood? Yes, let's put it all back on the patient. I am with you in spirit, because I know what you are going through.

And Andrea, you hit the nail on the head. It is a BUSINESS. And that is so so wrong. Every patient I cared for deserved my time, my attention and my sincere care. That's what I was taught, but they aren't teaching it anymore. Sad, but true.

signlady217 said...

Don't get me started on what the health care "reform" our government is trying to push on us now is going to do to an already messed up "business". You think doctors are busy and not listening now, just wait!

Anyway, I know a lot of people do love House, and I've enjoyed what I've seen of it. Of course, in real life a doctor who acted like him would probably be fired quickly!

I had to laugh when you said you yell at the TV. I do that too. I watch a lot of the drama/cop shows. (Why do they always run 'up' the stairs to escape the killer? Once you get to the roof, where do you go?)

Looking forward to the new Cat book.

Leann Sweeney said...

Oh, yes. ALWAYS run up the stairs instead of OUT THE DOOR. Makes perfect sense. :-)

Laura K. Curtis said...

I actually had a Dr. House, or a pair of them. It took a long time to get to the one (who was a dermatologist) because he doesn't take patients until everyone else has basically given up. After test after test (which he argued with the insurance company to get me, although he himself doesn't take insurance), and after sending me off to an oncologist, and conferring with my epileptologist, the three together diagnosed me with "drug-induced pseudolymphoma." Rare doesn't begin to describe it, especially the way it manifested for me.

I've been lucky to have great doctors. I've also been lucky enough to be able to pay for a PPO instead of an HMO so that when I have problems(and I do--if there's a side effect, I get it), or I need to see a doc who's "not on the plan," I can at least get some of my money back.

Leann Sweeney said...

That is so wonderful, Laura. Way back when, my 3 year old son had been sick for over a year. The pediatrician just didn't believe me. (he would spike high fevers, get all bloated and then he'd be fine the next day). Finally found my Dr. House. My son had intestinal parasites (from our pool) plus a rare kind of milk allergy--rare at the time, that is. Now it's called cell-mediated allergy and can be easily diagnosed. It was the doc's first time seeing the symptoms--and they were scary. The mom wasn't the only one who was scared.

Rural View said...

I was a medical transcriptionist for more years than I care to count. Finally burned out and retired 4 years ago. I always said most doctors think M.D. stands for "Magnificent Deity."

Fortunately my husband and I have found a primary and several specialists who are everything we could want in a doctor. I treasure them.

Leann Sweeney said...

Oh I like that. Magnificent Deity! Yes!

Debra said...

I can't see how requiring insurance companies to take folks with pre-existing conditions is going to "do something to an already messed up business?" Because that is me. I have rheumatoid arthritis and fibro and if my husband did not have excellent insurance, I'm sure I would be uninsured by now. My treatments (including an operation)have cost many thousands of dollars.
I changed docs recently because my rheumy had the bedside manner of a bully. She would squeeze my sore hand or foot until I yelped and then tell me not to push her hand away. The new doc is smart but somewhat cold. I don't care about that because I have my family for love. I just want the correct diagnosis and treatment.

Lover of Books said...

My dad has ELS Or LSE, I am messing it horribly but it has Systemic Lupus. I know that much lol. Anyways, because of his lupus he is on 3 meds I believe and has to have his blood drawn every so often. Without my mom around, not sure if he'd still be alive cause he remembers most things but he also has short term memory loss.

Not sure my dad would be able to navigate the medical community. I am proud that my dad can drive and he is around for his grandsons.
Krista

Leann Sweeney said...

Debra, I so understand. Why would anyone but a sadist squeeze an arthritic hand? And having been a school nurse for 20 years, I saw kids who were dropped from CHIPS when our lovely governor and legislature left millions of dollars for health care unclaimed. I saw kids who needed new wheelchairs as they grew up go without because their parents couldn't afford them. It really broke my heart. I saw children who I sent to the ER with broken arms remain in the splints put on them in the ER (TEMPORARY ace-bandaged splints)because orthopedists wouldn't see them to set and cast their arms them unless the parents paid up front. Oh, I could go on and on. I cried a lot doing that job.

Debra said...

Thanks, Leann. My hubby accompanied me to an appt and witnessed her manner. He looked at me as if to say,"And why are you still a patient here?"
I feel for all theose kids you treated who did not have insurance. Also,people don't realize how important dental care is especially for kids. I worked with poor folks at a Legal Services and none of them had dental care. I used to suggest they go to a nearby university that had a clinic. I hope dental is covered,under the new bill. A nine year old boy died last year because of an untreated infected tooth.

Lindy said...

A friend of mine got hepatitus while she was in Turkey. Her friends asked her who was going with her to the hospital, and she replied "I'm a big girl, I can go by myself." Wrong. She needed to have someone with her to watch what the care givers were doing when she was too sick or out of it to be aware. Someone to make sure she got the right pills and the injections were what they said they were. Someone to make sure her bed was cleaned and had fresh sheets. Someone to make sure they used a fresh needle when they drew blood.
I am finding that if we have to go to the hospital in this country, we need someone to go with us. Recently my brother was in the hospital, and though as far as I could tell, his treatment was good, I took care of the little comfort-related actions. And, when he pushed the "call" button, after several minutes, I would go try to find someone to help him.

Now I am my brother's primary care giver, and the medical world is overwhelming. I found that at the hospital and at the dialysis center there are "social workers" who are there to help us navigate through the system--but they are overworked and frustrated like we are.
With the new health care reform there will have to be countless "social workers" to deal with this system. Having worked for the Government, I know it will be complicated beyond our wildest dreams. I expect the next few years will be similar in scope to that of the pioneers who left homes in the East to travel through unknown wilds to new opportunity in the west.
Now there's an idea for a book!

Heather Webber said...

I think House would scare me too much! Don't get me started on doctors. Or insurance companies. I can rant for days...

Anonymous said...

Leann,
Thank you so much for your post. It seems as though I have friends with about every autoimmune disease on the list and my mother as well has probably at least two. I myself probably have a couple although the psorisis lays dormant for now.....Anyway, I wanted to mostly comment about elderly people needing an advocate in the health care system. I have seen my mother advocate for my father many times during his hospital stays for both triple bypass and strokes. It is scary the things that would have happened if she had not had a close eye on things. It makes me pause that since I am single, no kids and an only child if when i am old who will advocate for me.

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks so much "anonymous." And I wish I knew your name. I was a floor nurse in hospital when I first began my career and my patients always knew they could count on me. That's just not the way it is anymore. If you cannot find someone to be with you, then you should spend the money for a private aide or private duty nurse. It might save your life.

VickiM said...

Leann,
My friends all said I need House too. Until I lost my insurance due to "economic downsizing" if my job my new Dr. was searching through the hundreds of autoimmune disorders to find mine, he has never seen anything like this. I'm thrilled with him, the last one was not even interested in the side effects I had from the few treatments he tried. He didn't feel any were bad enough to stop treatment. Did uncontrollable shaking in my hands really bother me that much?

Leann Sweeney said...

Ah, Vicki. I am so sorry, but I've found that unless the doctor's hands have ever shaken like that, what do they care? Not to say there are not good, caring docs who work on a tough case, but gosh, why are they so darn hard to find? I'm with you. I understand. And I know those words DO help. They help me.