Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What To Do About Broken Promises From Your Medical Team

For more than month I expected to have an implant surgery on 1/16/15 at UCSF.  On Jan 8th my surgeon's office called me and told me to keep my appointment with my primary physician scheduled for Jan 9th in order to get all my pre-surgery tests completed. First I went to my Doctor for an EKG and a pre-surgery physical. After that,  I spent hours waiting for in line at lab for my blood tests. Next it was to another location spent in line waiting to get a chest x-ray. I did everything I was asked to do. I cleared my work schedule for two weeks and made hotel reservations for my wife and I to stay in San Francisco the day before and the day after surgery.
 
When I called my surgeon's office on Friday to let them know everything was completed, I was in for the shock of my life. Rather than confirm my 1/16 surgery date they told me that I was never placed on the surgery schedule.  I was on a waiting list. This meant I never had a chance to have surgery on 1/16. But that wasn't the worst news they'd give me. The worst news was their office hadn't the faintest notion when I'd be moved from the waiting list to the surgery list. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. They'd just called me asking me to complete all my pre-surgery tests only to tell me they had no idea what week or month I'd have my surgery. I felt angry, frustrated, betrayed, helpless and powerless. That's a toxic brew of emotions. There was nothing I could do to make them give me a surgery date. Additionally, it was apparent no one in my surgeon's office would be held accountable or face any negative consequences.

It had taken weeks to get insurance approval. It cost me a half a day off from work to get my pre-surgery testing completed and it was all for nothing. I had to cancel my hotel reservation and change my work schedule. If I didn't have surgery in January I knew I'd have to put surgery off until March. That meant I'd be paying expensive out of pocket costs a second time to have my pre-surgery tests and physical re-done. But worse than the out of pocket expenses, the delay meant another two months of coping with ED.

The rational and logical part of me realized this was not a life threatening situation. My health was not threatened by this delay. The only price I'd pay is inconvenience and delay. That didn't take away the stress, frustration and disappointment I felt about my experience with the UCSF Urology Department.

I own a business and I know what it feels like to be robbed. I was surprised I was experiencing similar feelings.  So I asked myself what it was that I felt robbed of. Here's how that question was answered. I was robbed of my trust. I've been  robbed of sleep. I was robbed of my peace and expectations. Worst of all I was robbed of the time I expected to be healed from ED. I had plans to take my wife for a romantic get a way in March. Instead it looked like I'd be spending my time recovering from surgery. Going to UCSF for surgery in March was not my idea of a romantic get-a-way. 

Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do to get back any of those things. Adding to my pain was the fact that no one cared other than my wife and me.  It was an unpleasant reminder of the impersonal nature of our health care system.

After prayer and reflection I took the following 3 steps:
1. I called the Ombudsman at UCSF. I asked for his help to get me a surgery date.
2. I called my Surgeon's Office Manager and asked for her help
3. I sent an e-mail directly to my Surgeon asking for his help to get me on the surgery schedule.
 Within two days I had a new surgery date in January!

Addendum 
What I received my surgery date, I began to praise God.  I immediately recalled the following quote from this blog.  "No one cares other than my wife and me"  This statement was a reflection how I felt at the time, but it was highly inaccurate. I'd left out someone very important in my life who cared a great deal. He's the one who said:
 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. (Jer 29:11-13 NKJV)
and this:
casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7 NKJV)
The Lord of the universe cared a great deal about the struggles I was facing to get my surgery date. He cares about your struggles as well.

Rick Redner & his Wife Brenda are the authors of
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?