Doctors, ducks and the hospitality industry

September 28, 2011

Confession: it wasn’t really Hyacinth’s fault that I didn’t post last week…. It was Papa’s.

I was kind of excited when I received the announcement that my doctor of 20 years had become affiliated with a VIP wellness program.

Visions of yoga classes, massages and botox danced through my head.

And then I read the fine print. Electronic medical records. Diagnostic testing. Wellness coaching…. FIFTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS.

What. The. Hell?

It’s called concierge medicine. With fewer patients, you’re guaranteed more face time with your doc when you need it. Good deal? No. I don’t go to the doc that often.

This is how I found myself without a doctor when I came down with bronchitis.

I called Heather’s doctor. No appointments available for a month said the receptionist.

“I’ll either be dead or over my bronchitis by then,” I argued.

Papa suggested that I go to his doctor. Papa isn’t as particular as I am about doctors, but what the hell—it was, after all, a simple case of bronchitis. I could find another doctor later.

Dr. Schmid!And so I went to see him. Bernhard Schmid. An Austrian doctor with an accent so thick he made Arnold Schwarzenegger sound like the Queen of England.

Schmid told me that I needed a mammogram (not something I’ve ever been able to generate any enthusiasm for), calcium and exercise (uh, when?). Schmid did not approve of a lot of things, and, apparently antibiotics were at the top of the list. He listened to my chest, said my inhale sounded great, but that there was a lag in my exhale that could mean COPD.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.

“Do you think I have COPD?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he said.

And then he sent me on my way with a sample of Advair and a script for a boob x-ray.

The next day my bronchitis was worse, and I started having an anxiety attack. By the time Jax graduated from kindergarten, I’d be in a wheelchair lugging around a supersized tank of O2. I was a wreck. I started crying.

I called Kate’s nurse. Kate is the friend of a friend, an internist in practice with my old doctor. Word on the street was that Kate was going into the hospitality industry too.

Kate gave me a hug, said she was not defecting. She would take me on as a patient. She listened to my chest, told me that I did not have COPD. Then she gave me an antibiotic and a script for a chest x-ray (just to be safe).

Since I was going for the chest x-ray ($75 copay), I decided to have the boob x-ray (free) done at the same time, and while it’s not on my list of exciting things to do, the boob x-ray was not as bad as I’d heard.

After a dose of antibiotics and 24 hours, I felt much better. Schmid’s office called to say that my boobs were normal, and then I drove to the lab for a copy of my chest x-ray report because I couldn’t wait on Kate’s phone call. And while I didn’t go to medical school, I knew when I read “unremarkable x-ray” that all was okay.

I’ve never thought I’d see the day that I was happy to be unremarkable.

When I recounted the story to Mimi, she chastised me.

“You should know better than to use a doctor that your father goes to,” she said.

“Quack, quack,” I replied.


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Irene September 28, 2011 at 7:52 am

LOL! And they all want us to switch to NHS!? I can’t wait for that mess! Yeah, it’s free, but the wait will be a nightmare and who knows what kind of medical care you’ll REALLY get.

Had my mams grammed yesterday. This tech wasn’t as gentle with the side views as last year’s tech. Some years it’s a breeze, other’s it’s not. Luckily it’s only a once a year.

Jenn September 28, 2011 at 9:00 am

Once a year?! Holy cow! I was thinking once a decade!

Ally September 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Concierge medicine? Really? I thought that was all made up for Royal Pains (a show I happened to be addicted to for no logical reason, I might add). Fifteen hundred? I’d better be seeing him every other week for that kind of price. And I just don’t go to the doctor enough for that.

Yeah, mammograms are never as bad as we make them out to be. Unless you go during PMS when things are a little more tender than usual. Ouch!

papa September 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm


You never listen. I couldn’t give you the name of my doctor because there is no MY doctor. What I said was stay away from all doctors. But, if you just got to go to one, try the Doc in a Box just up the road. I even offered to let you ride one of my bicycles.

I was staying with your Great Grandparents in 1959 and needed to get a physical. They were both in their 60′s and did not have a doctor. We had to look up one in the yellow pages. Remember those? They both lived to be about 90 and only got a doctor the last month of their lives.

Relax, you got those good genes on both sides of the family.


PS Moose has been shaking up my ginger ale again. Big Nick said he’s sending you a bill to clean the inside of his boat. Not one drop left in the can…it was ugly.

Jenn September 28, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Our daughter’s pediatrician forced us to either register for or officially decline a monthly charge of $8.50, which would cover the cost of any phone calls. If we didn’t sign up, we’d get charged $25+ for each call/question.

portia September 28, 2011 at 8:23 pm

I too have Dr. woes. My favorite person, aka my OB/GYN, who delivered my 2 youngest children and my much-needed Zoloft Rx, is on med leave for a badly healed leg break and some hideous surgery,……and I am up the creek. I really need him, and he is far away on the other side of the lake getting good drugs while my supply of LIFE-ENHANCEMENT (also known as not- committing- unspeakable -acts-drug) is dwindling. At least I don’t have bronchitis!!

Jenn September 28, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Ally: no kidding. I’d have to have a Michael Jackson problem to be spending that kind of money.

Papa: are you sure it was Moose? Was vodka involved?

Jenn: that’s highway robbery!

Portia: I think you need to take a pound cake to Dr. Happy. I’m sure he would be grateful and return the favor with refills.

Craftwhack September 28, 2011 at 11:04 pm

I’m scared to get a mammogram. Sorry your old doc got all fancy and exclusive- it makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Shannon September 28, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Thank goodness you don’t have COPD! And that you’re feeling better, too.

I’ve really considered charging for phone calls. Especially the ones that come in the middle of the night: “My blood sugars are high.”
“How long have they been high?”
“Two weeks.”
“What was different that made you call and wake me up at 2am?”
“Oh, I just decided it was time to do something about it.”

You can bet if I were their lawyer, I’d not be getting those calls at 2am. Or I’d be able to charge $100 for each minute.

Jenn September 29, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Crafty: I was scared too. Really, it was no big deal.

Shannon: I’d charge for that too, except that I would call it a charge for being a dumbass.

Patricia September 30, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Welcome to the new world of medicine. You’re the second person I’ve heard talk about a VIP patient arrangement with a doctor for a small annual fortune. I can see what doctors would do it but it sure does make it tough on relatively healthy people who don’t need a doctor very often.

The Pepperrific Life September 30, 2011 at 11:16 pm

It’s good to know you’re better now… and that you don’t have COPD! :)

Betsy at Zen Mama October 1, 2011 at 11:51 am

What a nightmare!! I know everyone says it all the time.. but the health care system is such a mess!!! We just went to emergency room and got a bill (they hadn’t sent it to our insurance yet) for about $8,000!! YIKES!! Well, congratulations on your health!!

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