It took nearly four months to get an appointment with my primary care physician.
In the office, I described the thick, crusty nodules on my head and their location. Dr. Sally’s post-exam response was tentative. “It looks like the hair is growing right through the nodule. It doesn’t look cancerous. I think we’ll treat this like a fungal infection.”
I had surgery for basal cell carcinoma about a year prior and was worried. Dr. Sally prescribed an anti-fungal ointment.
I used the entire tube of ointment, to no effect. I made another appointment with Dr. Sally. The earliest opening was four months out.
And so it went.
Over the next three+ years or so I was “diagnosed” for everything from warts to shingles to dermatitis. Prescribed one ineffective medication after another.
Meanwhile, no one could seem to figure out what the thick, itchy scalp lesions were, why they suddenly emerged, or how to treat them effectively.
“Good thing I’m not dying,” I opined to husband Chris one evening after about a month after another ineffective ointment.
I wasn’t in any imminent danger of keeling over dead, but the itchy bumps were a nuisance, making me uncomfortable and self-conscious. I sometimes suffered from broken sleep when the itching became intense and kept me awake. Didn’t anyone know what was going on or how to treat it?
“I want to see my dermatologist,” I finally demanded in the spring of 2017.
Of course I needed a referral. Dr. Sally made some notes in my chart and left the exam room. In swept Nurse Ratched. (Not really. But I’ll be et ‘fer a tater if she wasn’t a dead ringer for “the Big Nurse.”)
“We’re going to send you to Dermatology at the U-Dubb (University of Washington in Seattle)” Nurse Ratched declared.
“Seattle?! That’s nearly three hours away. It takes an entire day to get there and back for one fifteen minute appointment! And I’ve never been to the U.W. before.”
“Well, the U-Dubb is the only place that takes your insurance,” spake Her Ratchedness.
“Why can’t I see my derm guy, Dr.K.? He’s not exactly close (about 90 minutes away). But I’ve seen him before and he’s good. Dr. K.’s also a lot closer than Seattle!”
“Your insurance has changed and he’s outside your network now,” snapped Ratched with the warmth of a wolverine. This was news to me.
When the requisite paperwork authorizing a visit to Dermatology at the U.W. finally arrived, I phoned the same day for an appointment.
“We’re not accepting any new patients at this time,” Brunhilda said on the other end of the line.
“I’ve been told that you’re my sole option. If I can’t get in to see you, then what am I supposed to do?” I asked.
Brunhilda basically told me, sorry, Dermatology is “booked solid for more than half a year out.” Maybe I could call back then?
You’re kidding, right?
A few weeks later I received a curt letter from the U.W. Department of Dermatology informing me that my request for an appointment/eval had been denied. Seems they couldn’t get me in any sooner than nine months out and that delay didn’t constitute “good patient care.”
Well, there’s a newsflash.
So now what?
To Be Continued…
Snake oil Image – Creative Commons
Nurse Ratched – Creative Commons