Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Iron Pen on a Tablet of Stone

Job was a nice guy, according to the book in the Bible bearing his name. For his goodness he was given the opportunity to lose everything that he owned to the Sabeans, fire from heaven, the Chaldeans, and a tornado, in that order. Job managed to stay cheerful in the midst of affliction and for his pains, his cake of trials and tribulations was given a frosting of boils from head to toe. His wife told him to curse God and die; his friends wanted him to confess his obvious sins in lurid detail. Job knew that he was a nice guy and would not curse God or anyone else because of his lot in life. He could not confess his sins in lurid detail to his four friends for two reasons: one, he had committed no sins that would have justified the rather rough treatment he had received; and, two, he didn't know what a "lurid detail" was. After all was said and done, forty-two poetic chapters later, Job had all that he lost restored to him and then some. In the middle of this winsome story, Job declaims "Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a blog (... er ...) book. That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever". He then goes on to explain why he felt as good as he did under the circumstances that he was forced to endure. You may read them for yourself in Job 19:23-27. As it turns out, I feel the same way, even though I am not afflicted in the same draconian manner as Job was. However, I do have a word or two to say about trying to get messages through to the medical industry which I hope could be as effective as iron pens on stone.

Trying to get through to my health provider is a nightmare, one like unto that caused by a pastrami and sour kraut sandwich on a pumpernickel bun. I dial the number 234-8600 (that's the real number, by the way, and I don't care if you call it) and immediately I am confronted with a recording that sounds inviting enough, but soon turns into a stone wall. About the first thing on the agenda is language preference, the instructions given in every possible language that might be spoken by a patient: "If you speak Spanish press '8'; if you speak Korean, press '9'; if you speak Finnish press '39'; if you speak Athabaskan, press '65'; if you speak American Sign Language, press '45893'; if you speak English stay on the line for one hour and forty-five minutes and we will get right to you."

The next thing that happens (not immediately, but eventually), the same recorded voice says, "Now that we are certain that you speak English, if you would like to talk with the Moran Eye Center, press '1'; if you would like to speak to the Pharmacy, press '2'; if you want to speak to your health care provider just stay on the line for one hour and forty-five minutes and we will get right to you." The irony of all of this is that the Moran Eye Center (234-8530) and the Pharmacy (234-8510) have their own phone numbers; in fact they are listed right below the UHCPHC number (234-8600) in the telephone book. Why is my path to the doctor strewn with stumbling blocks like this? Who in their right mind would go through all of the mysteries of the language selection if they could go directly to the Moran Eye Center or the Pharmacy? I think that there is a conspiracy here.

The next hurdle has to do with a variety of selections that I cannot at present remember, even though I just went through the routine less than an hour ago. What I do know is if you push any button other than "3" you will have a longer wait than the traditional one hour and forty-five minutes. The "push 3" option sends you off to the bowels of some answering service which arranges all of the appointments with the doctors and also will deliver messages to the main office in American Sign Language for you. While you are waiting for a human being to answer the phone (or a facsimile thereof) you are assailed by a tinny recording of some masterpiece orchestrated by Attila the Hun and his band of merry men. I have now heard every recording made by AtH and HBoMM six times and I have only tried to get through to my doctor twice. About a half an hour into their rendition of the "I Can't Get No Satisfaction/In Da Gadda Vida" medley, the same voice sweetly interrupts with "If you are bound and determined to speak with semi-sentient being, please stay on the line; if you wish, however, you can leave a message for the next available Mongoloid Idiot at our Call Center by pressing '1'." Never, ever, under any circumstances, take this option. There is no act of futility more intense than this one.

Eventually, someone does pick up the line and says, "Hello, my name is Djhjklfdnsbnethny, how may I help you?" This rather esoteric proper name approach by the Call Center is designed so that no one who answers the phone will ever get into trouble for the way that they insult and demean the patients who call in. I once tried to report Djhjklfdnsbnethny, but the supervisor with whom I was speaking said, "We have no one by that name here. We have a Djmjklfdnsbnethny, but she not the one you are after." (I could have made this last bit a whole lot funnier, but there is no copy-paste function in the compose mode of this blog). After Djhjklfdnsbnethny introduces herself, I say, "I would like to talk to my doctor" "Your name please" "Zaphod Beeblebrox" "Is 'Beeblebrox' spelled with three 'B's or nine." "Three," I reply. "Your date of birth?" "Somewhere in the twilight of pre-history." "Really, sir, we don't have time for that sort of humor; this is a medical facility." I sigh, "16 July 1942" "Is that with one '6' or three, Mwhahahahaha!" "One". "Well, now Zaffy, what can I do for you?" "I would like to talk to my doctor." "What is his name?" "Doc Holliday". "He's not in right now." "How can that be? He just tried to call me ten minutes ago and left a message on my answering machine, asking me to call him right back at this number". "Well, that's all fine and dandy for him, but we have no way to connect you directly with your doctor. We can pass a message along to him if it seems important enough or we can set up a really expensive appointment for you. We prefer the latter because we then get a piece of the action, if you know what I mean". I leave a message laced with mild allusions to mal-practice suits and hang up the phone.

About an hour later, "Doc" calls and says, "Hi, there. I hear that you have been stirring the kettle at the Call Center. Good for you! They never let me call out; I have to use my own cell phone." He then gives me the latest report on my health.

You will remember that when my ferritin level was first checked about a month ago, that I was at 827 and that with the addition of another 173 points I would permanently disturb the core of the planet, hopefully in a catastrophic way. "Doc" cheerfully announced that my ferritin level had dropped to 684, a loss of about 140 points. I had expected no more than 40 points, especially after the half pound of tri-tip steak and the Guacamole Bacon Burger. I confessed all. He said, "Well, don't be extreme about this. If you have a hamburger or a steak once a month that will not be a bad thing. It might mean an extra $200.00 phlebotomy and a couple of $85.00 visits, but whose counting?" After assuring me that everything was coming along as it should, he said, "I'll have my nurse set up another visit for you at the Infusion Center and in a month you come back for another blood test. And when you do, make an appointment to see me a couple of days later so we won't have to use the the Call Center." I told him that I would figure something out.

There used to be a commercial on television, for Big O Tires, I think, where the voice-over guy says, "If you are not satisfied with our tires, just bring them on back to us". The video shows a little old lady with a tire that she then heaves through the plate glass window of the store. I am thinking along the same lines, about making myself known to the University Health Call Center in Jobian terms. I figure that if I incise my message with an iron pen on a large stone and toss that through one of the big windows, they will begin to pay attention to me when I call.

As an addendum: Amber just called from "Doc Holliday's" office to let me know that I now have a standing order at the Infusion Center for a monthly phlebotomy. Without thinking I said, "Does that mean that I am not going to be able to lie down? ('standing order', tee-hee)" There was a momentary silence and then Amber said, "Zaphod, what did I tell you about humor in the workplace?" Then it hit me: "Djhjklfdnsbnethny? Is that you, Djhjklfdnsbnethny" "(click)"


Jen said...

Discount Tire. . .there's no way that old lady could toss that tire, let alone pick it up. . .

I must say the hospital you call sounds like the furniture repair people that we've been trying to get Drew's bed fixed (it's under extended warranty). No phlebotomy is going to fix that bed. . . it's made of wood, not iron.

Word of the day: "pnzpngy" = when you throw your pen on the floor to calculate the distance between yourself and the nearest child (so that they may run whatever errand you need while you sit on the couch watching tv)

Katscratchme said...

You gotta love the medical system in this country.. and SUPPOSEDLY, we have it GOOD! What-EVER!!

And hey.. isn't it: Inna Gadda Da Vida?
Inna Gadda Da Vida baby! Don't you know that I loHAHOve you!

Chris said...

First let me say, good choice of music. The operator song matched the topic of the post. I know all too well about the woes of calling a call center. I used to be in one. Man, I am glad those days are over. And, I know what you mean about people that have names that you don't understand. I wonder if that call went over-seas to India. That is one thing that America is slowing starting to figure out. Trying to save a buck or two by outsourcing overseas results in frusterated customers.

I remember this one time when I worked at the great and spacious building of cable tv that one girl I worked with was talking with a rude lady, and I think she was dishing it back to the customer, and the customer asked for the reps name, who lied and said her name was Sarah (her real name was Tiffany). When the lady called back and wanted to make a complaint against a rep named Sarah, they said that no one by that name worked there. The woman said that's who she spoke to. So, they went back and started listening to all the calls (they record every and all phone calls), and found the call and fired the girl for lying.

Hey, isn't Medicare or Medicaid paying for all this? I hope so. $85 - $200 per visit sounds like a phlebotomy of the wallet.

Man, some of your music is starting to scare me. McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Pizza Hut song? What kind of crazy crap is that? Is that what happens when you are on a iron-free diet? All you can think about is iron-full food? Hey, that's what happened to me when I tried to quit soda.

If anything, my goal is to get really fat and then start P90X and get totally ripped in 90 days! My blog would cover the whole thing too! Then, I might become a celebrity! That would be SWEET!

Zaphod said...

To Em: Nobody knows what Iron Butterfly is saying, but I do think there is another "DA"

To Chris: Hey, the Pizza Hut song is one of the favs on my list. Wait until you wake up at 3:30 in the morning and can't get it out of your head. Hmmm... P90X ... Sounds like some sort of mutated gene.

Katscratchme said...

"In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" is a seventeen-minute, five-second psychedelic rock song by Iron Butterfly, released on their 1968 album In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, occupying the entire second side of the album. The lyrics are simple, and heard only at the beginning and the end.


Katscratchme said...

Sorry.. I meant to leave a little comment about the entry. I didn't look it up to be snide, but I was curious as to what the name really was.
The back story to the title is pretty fun too.. hehe.

Zaphod said...

I had a group of my Seminary students at Bountiful High School try to play that cut on my own stereo system at home during a class party. Three skeet shooters hit the disk as it sailed out over the Great Salt Lake.

Anonymous said...

Yes...I have already stated my feelings about doctors on my blog...I need say no more.