Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"I Told Him I Would Call"

It is certainly not a giant deal.  But as my time on this earth gets shorter, I am increasingly intolerant of having it unnecessarily wasted.

That’s not true.  I’d have hated this if I were twenty.

Tell me if my annoyance is justified.  Or at least come along for the ride and watch an underutilized curmudgeon flail helplessly away at an indifferent piñata.  (Oh, look!  There’s a “thing” over the “n.”)


It was not exactly a promise, but it was close enough to a promise that I would feel guilty if I didn’t keep it.  And I feel guilty enough already, what with those adorable puppies I have failed to adopt and those sad-eyed children I have neglected to send money to.  Echoing the context of what I’m about to relate, my proverbial “Guilt Mailbox” was overflowingly full.

Here’s exactly what happened. 

For the past couple of months, I have been suffering from a somewhat uncomfortable congestion in my ears.  Which I have not, as is my habit with medical ailments that are not life threatening, ignored.

My personal physician recommended Claritin and nose drops.  That didn’t work.  In fact, my condition got worse.  The doc then upped the ante, with some antibiotic eardrops.  They helped, but not nearly enough.  My ears remained noticeably congested. 

You want to feel normal.  And the congestion was making me feel not.

So I try a “Head and Neck Specialist.”  (These guys used to be called “Ear, Nose and Throat” doctors, but apparently, at some recent juncture and with no fanfare in the media, they had changed their names, for reasons I can no more explain than why Istanbul became Constantinople.  I guess it’s nobody’s business but the but the doctors’.

As I have written elsewhere the first “Head and Neck Specialist” I went to kept me waiting for almost an hour, which, as I also mentioned, was double the time I had once waited to see the Queen of England.  (Before I gave up and went home.)

So I tried a different “Head and Neck Specialist.”  And in the “waiting” regard, it worked well.  I was seen by the doctor in less than ten minutos. 

The second “Head and Neck Specialist” heard me out, and then prescribed a regimen of steroid pills, that I was instructed to take daily, six the first day and diminishing down to one.  I had never taken pills in that manner before.  It felt like an adventure. 

Before I left, the “Head and Neck Specialist” looked at me severely and he said, “In ten days, you will call me and tell me how you are doing.”

That’s where the pretty-close-to-a-promise comes in.

I told the “Head and Neck Specialist” that I would.

I take the medicine for six days, I wait five more days – the actual tenth day landed a Sunday – and, on Monday morning, I call the “Head and Neck Specialist”, ready to report.  My report being: 

“The medicine has substantially reduced the congestion in my ears.  But it is still, though to a considerably diminished degree, there.”

I call the “Head and Neck Specialist’s” office.  A Young Male Receptionist answers.  I inform him that the doctor had asked me to call in with an update on my condition.  The Young Male Receptionist tells me he can take care of that for me.

The Young Male Receptionist then sends me to “Voice Mail” where I am first, entertained by some “Top 40” vocals from the World War II era, and then told by an “Automated Voice” to leave a message after the “beep.” 

I hear the “beep”, but before I can deliver my message, the “Automated Voice” informs me that the “Message Mailbox” is full.

The “Automated Voice” then tells me that if I wish to exit “Voice Mail”, I should press “Star -1.”  I then dutifully press “Star-1” and I am summarily delivered…

To a void.

There is no sound whatsoever on the line – no 40’s “Hit Parade” music, no “Automatized Voice” instructions, not even a dial tone.  It was like I’d been redirected to Outer Space.

After thirty seconds of listening to nothing – I know that’s a long time, but I am congenitally indecisive – I finally hang up.  I take a number of calming breaths, and then I call back, explaining to the Young Male Receptionist exactly what had just occurred.  The Young Male Receptionist apologizes, saying he will try it again.

He does.

And the exactly same thing, in the exact same order, occurs – the “Big Band” music, the “Voice Mail” instruction, the announcement that the “Message Mailbox” was full, the instruction to exit “Voice Mail” by pressing “Star-1” and my ultimate return to the “Black Hole of Calcutta.”  

And I hang up again.

I am not certain what to do.  Other than scream.  I had told the doctor I would call in with my report, I had called in prepared to deliver my report and, paraphrasing what they used to say when your television reception went bad, due to circumstances beyond my control…

I had been unable to do so.

So I did something else, the “something else” being going back to my blog writing.

As the hours passed, my pseudo-promise to the “Head and Neck Specialist” nagged at me.  And besides that, I wanted to find out the next step in my medical treatment.  With little hope but a determination not to surrender,

I call the “Head and Neck Specialist’s” office…

A third time.

This time, my call is responded to be a cheerful Young Female Receptionist.  This immediately gives me hope.  I have escaped the hapless clutches of the Young Male Receptionist.  Plus, women are smarter.  Women are better.  Women are capable, competent, compassionate.  I am confident that, this time, the outcome will be different.  And, little to my surprise, it is.

The cheerful Young Female Receptionist asks me if she can put me on “Hold” for a moment, and I tell her she can.  The cheerful Young Female Receptionist then puts me on “Hold”…

And she never comes back.

My fourth call to the office returns me to the Young Male Receptionist who, this time, decides to write my message down personally.  So I tell him:

“The medicine has substantially reduced the congestion in my ears.  But it is still, though to a considerably diminished degree, there.”

He reads it back to me,

“The congestion is reduced but it’s still there.”

“‘Substantially’ reduced and is there to a ‘considerably diminished degree.’
The Young Male Receptionist had gotten the “bare bones” of the message, minus the nuance and specificity.  Which, in science, is pretty much the whole thing!

But at least now it’s done.  I have honorably kept my not-quite-a-promise.

A day later, I receive a call from the Young Male Receptionist informing that that the doctor had gotten my message, and that his return message was to wait a week, and if the congestion in my ears has not entirely gone away…

I should call the office again.

It is now five days later.  A single-digit percentage of the congestion remains.  I am hoping that the rest of it is gone in two days.  Partly because I want to be better.  But more importantly – and I am sure you will understand – 

I do not want to call that place anymore.
Note to "Carlton":  Jim Holowachuk went to Bathurst Heights Collegiate and Vocational School with me in Toronto.  When he ran for Student Council, his campaign slogan was, "Don't be a duck, vote Holowachuck."  So I named a character after him.     

1 comment:

S. Jones said...

Certainly can relate to your predicament. When a doctor instructs you/me to call him/her after a certain menu of magic for a specified term, we know they are not going to be why do they ask? What they mean is call in and we'll exchange information among 2 or 3 folk and come up with an additional remedy, usually involving additional waiting. One way or another...sometimes more than one're going to wait! I suppose they charge you to park, too?