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Opthalmologists - the trust factor. Rant - Ed's Itorial
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Opthalmologists - the trust factor. Rant
The last time I went to see my Oppo he didn't want to listen to how I was having trouble getting time off work to attend medical appointments. (In fact I get the feeling he doesn't want to listen to me at all. His work would be a lot smoother if the patients didn't talk, and of course, none of us has a life outside of those times when we spring into existence in his waiting room, pay our bills then disappear back into the void until the next time we magically appear in their waiting room again for our next appointment.)

This time he did a perfunctionary pressure test with the hand-held eye pressure tester. These gizmos actually work better for me, there's a knob that touches our eyebrow, and while I'm concentrating on that, I'm *not* concentrating on some stranger tryingt to stick me in the eye with a probe.  Previously, when I thought I was giving "positive patient feedback" (i.e. "Hey, I don't find this as traumatic as the other way of doing things") I've been told by both the orthoptist and the opthalmologist that these hand-held devices are also considered quite inaccurate, so we have to do it the stressful way as well.

Yet here he was, looking at a reading from a device he'd previously told me was wildly inaccurate, and announcing that the pressure in my eyes was now at 30. ("Hit the bell and win a prize! Ding, ding, ding!.) He was going to refer me to "a good friend of his" and here's the next lot of procedures I could look forward to.

I know a little bit about this next step. Dad had glaucoma, and in the end had an operation to cut a channel in his eyes to reduce the build up of fluid/ causing pressure in the eye. He had his op at the Prince of Wales Hospital. It's just up the road from where I work. Could I go there? "Their eye clinic has closed down" (please note the past tense). "Well, what about the eye hospital in town?" No, I couldn't  go there either for no sufficiently explained reason. I had to see the man he was writing me a referal for. His good friend.  And the dire warning "Don't leave it too long!" that makes you think you're on death's door. Then he bundled me out of his office as quickly as possible... belatedly remembering as I was at reception paying his fee, that I''d probably need another 6 months of eye drop prescriptions as well.

Out of his office, as my nerves began to settle a bit, I started to stew over this. 

I mentioned in passing to a friend that I'd been told the eye clinic at POW had closed. She said another of her friends had just been there the day before. ???
 
I asked another friend who's had glaucoma for quite a while if he could recommend anyone. His glaucoma specialist is in the city. I can travel to the city in half the time I can get to the preferred specialist,

It seemed there were other options available to me. None of which were discussed in the Oppos rooms.

I mentioned my dilemna to my GP when I next saw her. She likewise deflected the POW eye clinic, and the Eye Hospital in the city. Possibly there's a valid reason for this - like a preference is given to the elderly or the unemployed, but I'd love to*know* what it is rather than someone I barely know deciding "That's not what you want" (I want it all to go away. *That's* what *I* want. 5 eye operations and the associated stress that goes with them is more than enough! And what I also want is not to re-live the trauma of the orthoptist coming at me, trying to prise my eye open to stick a plastic cup attatched to a syringe of water to my eye, but I can't make *that* go away either - months after the event. I know it's not there when I'm not confronted with eye problems and pretending I'm normal like everyone else.) 

At least the GP  *listened* to me, and got back with a suggested name in the city.

I looked him up on the internet. He seemed okay.

I rung the opthalmologists office and asked if I could be referred to him instead because he was closer. The receptionist said she'd get back to me.

She did a few days later, stating: [The opthalmologist} says {the specilalist in the city} no longer works at that clinic. [the oppo] would write the reference if I really wanted it, but was I *sure* I didn't want to see [his good friend I instead?

She seemed a bit put out when I said it said he still worked there on the internet, and that it was my GP who'd suggested him to me. She said the oppo would get back to me soon.

That was on 5th December, 2008.

I waited.

On  Tuesday, 27th January I got a call from the receptionist. I was told yet again that despite this specialist no longer working at the establishment I'd read about, and not doing the work I need, I'd get the referral. (So much for the sinister "Don't leave it too long" warning I'd been given.) 

It was something of a surprise to find in my cc'd copy of the referal that the oppo seemed quite chatty with this new specialist - addressing him by first name at least, which I presume you wouldn't do if you weren't familiar with a colleague.

Being a paranoid, nervous wreck, I've been waiting for the other shoe to fall  - I was almost certain I'd phone to make an appointment only to be told "No, he's left the practice", and I'd have to go back to square 1 and jump through all the hoops again.
Just the idea of having to phone and make an appointment today was enough to keep me awake for a lot of last night, reliving the othoptist trying to stick a plastic cup to my eye  among other things. Probably due to lack of sleep last night, I've felt like I'm on "high alert" sinceI woke up this morning - that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that I've known so well since the "eye thing" began to unfold back in 2003.

My hands were sweaty and shaking when I dialed the number. yes, he still worked there, said this receptionist. What was my condition? She didn't balk when I read the details from the referal I'd been sent. I was waiting to hear "No, Ihe doesn't treat *that*" but it never came. I had the sense to ask if she could give me an idea of what it'd cost. Just as well I was sitting down! You don't get much back from medicare, and no, you can't claim the rest back on your private health cover.

So no back to square 1. More of the same old, same old. Another round of specialists appointments, another round of worrying where the money's going to come from to pay for everything, and this time the worry of how to take the time off work if I'm not supposed to be entitled to sick leave.

Another round of reminders that when this all started back in 2003 the oppo drew a little graph and said the "best case scenario" was that they could stabilise my condition, and I'd probably have 10 years of reasonable sight left. I don't need to be reminded of how little time I'm supposed to have left before everything goes *pffft* 

But why the heck was I subjected to "He doesn't practice anymore" and "He doesn't treat your condition" from the oppo???

Health care *professional*? Health care *provider*??? More like the ethics of a dodgy second-hand car salesman!

  

     
   

 

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Comments
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 18th, 2009 11:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is utterly shit on thirty or so levels. I am so sorry this has happened to you. This is not the way things are done.

Best of luck (!) with this,
Brendan Carson

My writery blog:
http://brendandcarson.blog.com/
Facebook (Brendan David Carson)
Novel coming soon!!!
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