Tuesday, April 06, 2004


"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

I've learned no longer to be surprised by the insanity associated with the practice of medicine, yet some days it's hard to suppress my befuddlement.

This afternoon I took Amy to see a new doctor, a hematologist - a blood specialist - who was called in to give his opinion on Amy's relatively minor case of anemia.

The appointment was for 12:30.

I was preparing to wait in the waiting room, having brought crossword puzzles and a book, but soon after Amy was called back into the inner sanctum of the place, she poked her head out the door and asked me to join her. Little did I know I was entering the medical equivalent of a rabbit hole.

Amy escorted me from the waiting room to the "sub waiting room". Really...that's what it was called.

While sub-waiting I noticed a sign on the staff desk in front of us. I'm sorry I couldn't get a better picture of it - Amy has this aversion to me doing embarrassing things even when we're ensconced in the rubber Ramada.

I know that's too blurry to read, but this is what the sign says:


In order to shorten your wait time we ask you to arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment....

Immediately below that, on the same sign it reads:


To accommodate all patients we ask that you arrive no earlier than 15 minutes before your scheduled time. If you are going to be late to an appointment, please notify staff in advance.

The way I read this, if your appointment is at 2, that really means 1:45...but if you show up at 1:43 you are in violation of the rules for being too early, if you are there 14 minutes before your appointment you are late.

There was actually another sign right next to this one that warned patients would be charged a 25 dollar fee if they failed to show up for a scheduled appointment without giving 24 hours notice.

I promise I checked to see if there was an entryway directly into the asylum from the sub-waiting room, but I couldn't find one.

We arrived for the 12:30 appointment at 12:30 (it was our first time; we didn't know that 12:30 really meant 12:15). We weren't fined or even scowled at to the best of my knowledge.

By the time we got through the waiting and sub-waiting rooms into an actual room where Amy was to be seen by a doctor it was about 1:30. When the doctor poked his head in, it was 1:50. That would be 1:35 hematologist time, and I believe 7pm in dog years.

I should mention before we arrived at the doctor's office Amy was required to fill out about 30 pages of information about her medical history, and she was asked to bring with her all of the drugs she is currently taking. I had the passing thought that perhaps there might be a bellboy available to help us carry those, but that was not to be. At least I didn't have to worry about tipping.

When the doctor finally entered the room, the one beyond the waiting and sub waiting rooms, he sat down and so help me the first thing he said was, "So why are you here anyway?"

Amy blinked. I suppressed conflicting urges to giggle and strangle him. I tried to be as polite as possible but I couldn't help but mention that I was under the impression he might at least have read Amy's chart or some of the 30 pages of information she had been required to fill out. I stopped myself from adding that even if he hadn't read it before our appointment; he had an extra 90 minutes to cram. I also resisted the urge to rummage around in Amy's suitcase full of drugs and look for something that might put me on an equal playing field.

With a straight face the doctor said, "Well it's probably all in the charts here, but why don't you just tell me."

So, we spent 15 or 20 minutes (or a split second in the land that time forgot) outlining Amy's entire medical history only to then have the doctor nod and condescendingly define anemia for us.

After about 20 minutes of analogies along the lines of "if this room were a red blood cell and the room next door was another red blood cell", the doctor finally mentioned that he thought he might run some actual blood tests. I smiled while gently nudging Amy to prevent her from snoring.

I suppose we accomplished something today. I'm not sure exactly what, but we did all agree to return for another appointment in two weeks, which by my calculations will actually be 11 days when you account for the difference in time zones between here and the land through the looking glass.