The Impossible Quest

I have experienced lower back pain for almost two years now. It started when I went on the marathon purge getting the house ready to sell. It has continued after the move to our apartment in the Pacific Northwest. Now it has gotten worse, the pain moving around to my lower abdomen, after buying our new house. At first I thought it was due to the back-breaking work getting everything either packed up or thrown out for the move. Then I rationalized the pain to sitting for long hours working from home. I have no excuse or rationalization, since I stand most of the day and am not lifting anything heavy.

I decided to find a doctor here and finally get a diagnosis for the pain. I discovered that finding a doctor or even get an appointment to go see someone is next to impossible here. I figured that by going to my insurance’s website and look for in-network doctors close to me would be fairly easy. Not so. Most of the numbers I called had me wind my way through a series of “press one, press two, press one, etc.” then when I got to the correct queue, I sat on hold for minutes, I mean many minutes. If I was lucky enough to get to speak with someone, the answers were, “Oh we’re not accepting new patients” even though the automated voice would direct new patients to press one, or “We’re taking appointments a month out”, really? well it’s a good thing I’m not bleeding out my eyes. My favorite one was, “We don’t handle pain”, seriously, then do you only see healthy happy patients?

I broke down and went to a walk-in clinic, hoping to get someone that at least would point me in the right direction. I should have seen the signs when I pulled into the packed parking lot, that this was a bad idea. I walked into the waiting room and looked around at all the people sitting there waiting to see a doctor. There had to be twenty-five or thirty people sitting there and more than half were wearing masks. I signed in and found a seat between two people wearing masks, one of which was coughing and hacking into the mask.

I tried to make myself very small and not touch anything. I wanted to hold my breath, but that was not an option so I took very small breaths. After sitting there for an hour and saw that more were coming in than were being seen, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get in to see anyone. I decided this was a sign to get out NOW! I barely escaped with my life. Now just cross your fingers I don’t get the flu or worse, dengue fever.

Back to the drawing board so to speak, I went through the insurance website again, this time I thought I would look for an orthopedic surgeon. Surely a specialist isn’t going to turn me away. Wrong again. The first doctor’s office told me that I had to be referred to them by my primary care physician. I explained that I didn’t have a primary care physician and my insurance doesn’t require that, I can go where I want, I would just pay a higher co-pay. But that didn’t sway them, no appointment without a referral. Are you kidding me? Talk about getting frustrated.

This shouldn’t be that hard. I was almost ready to buy a plane ticket and fly back to KC to see my doctor there. But stubbornness won out, I will find someone to see me here.

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