August 28, 2010

A Letter to my Obstetrician

Dear Obstetrician and her Staff,
While I am in love with you (Dr. Hernandez), your staff (all but the sweet nurse who spends 20 minutes calmly searching for our child's heartbeat as it darts around my uterus) could use a whole lot of work. I'd like to start with the beginning of our journey in your office.   

You so graciously wrote me a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea medication. As twice confirmed new parents, we were walking happily out of the office to our cars when I happened to notice an oddity with my prescription. It read Zoloft, not Zofran. Honest mistake, giving a pregnant woman an anti-depressant instead of anti-nausea medication.  We all know  doctor's handwriting can be difficult to read (even though we are well aware everything in that office is computerized, including the printed out prescription you gave us). Regardless, we caught it before getting far from the office which made it that much more understandable.

The day before my next appointment I get a phone call from billing.  My grand total with delivery will be said amount and we can pay in monthly installments. Very proactive. Being new to this, and not having read any information about Obstetrician's ass-backwards way of billing, I planned to discuss it when I come to the office the next day. 20 minutes after our scheduled appointment "Alright Mrs. Sunderland, your total for today is One Million dollars" (said in Dr. Evil's voice). Umm, excuse me?

We are taken back to a tiny office with a high alert woman. I calmly explain to her that her message she left me yesterday afternoon did not, in fact, portray any inkling that we were to pay a ransom the next day. She ever so calmly explained amongst her piles of bills (that patients never get to see) that this is how all obstetricians do it. Where did these numbers come from? She couldn't get a hold of a live person at our insurance company so she just, you know, made it up to get the total. This is when she switched to therapist mode, asking why we couldn't pay this lump sum today, and if we were having financial problems. Naturally, after we told her we are not having financial problems, we just weren't prepared to pay the lump sum, she launched into her own story of why she too wouldn't be able to pay such a ransom.  Just bought a condo while her house in Fernley won't sell -Two mortgages, children, etc. etc. Needless to say, she did us a big "favor" and let us squeak by with an installment of the payment that day and a promise of paying the lump sum in the future. The whole time she mumbled, "my manager is going to kill me."

Fast forward to Wednesday. The appointment we've all been waiting for. The anatomy ultrasound. All family and friends were alerted, waiting next to their phones and Facebook for the great news, Boy or Girl? We sat up the night before, looking at names, giggling in anticipation of knowing that tomorrow afternoon this baby in my stomach would have a sex and a name.
We get to the doctor's office, beaming from ear to ear, gladly ready to pay the previous ransom (as we were prepared and had time to beg, borrow and steal save). This was the day all planning could start! I pee'd in the cup, went to the room where Sir Sunderland was waiting. We heard the baby's ever growing heart beat, discussed my blood pressure. In walks the doctor (remember, we like her a lot, just not her office staff). We have a friendly conversation, check the baby bump, then all hell breaks lose. "What? You're supposed to have an ultrasound today? No, we do those on Monday."

Imagine the cutest 30 something year old doctor you've ever seen. Friendly and funny, you just want to squeeze her with her adorableness that makes the fear and anxiety of squeaking out a watermelon disappear.

"Oh, I can see why you thought that, yes, we would typically do one between the 18-20th week, and I do have noted here, "ultrasound on next visit." They should've scheduled you on a Monday because ultrasounds take a long time and we want to be especially thorough with this one. Blah blah blah. She was quite lucky we didn't have another pregnant woman breakdown on our hands. It was like being told Christmas wasn't really on the 25th, it's been moved to the 30th. What's 5 more days of anticipation and excitement?

I fought back the tears, asked my long list of questions I had prepared for this appointment (turns out you really can't go tubing down the river) and she took us directly out to the scheduling receptionist. She made sure we were scheduled  for Monday for our ultrasound. I was sure to stare at the idiot who doesn't read charts or prescriptions correctly receptionist  and say, "THIS IS FOR AN ULTRASOUND, AN U-L-T-R-A-S-O-U-N-D." I think she got the hint as this time I was handed information on how to prepare for my ultrasound. Imagine that!

So, Dr. Hernandez, you can see my dilemma with your office staff. I was prepared to go through the trials and tribulations of pregnancy. I am prepared to be scared out of my wits about labor. But I never anticipated the doctor's office to be such a royal pain in the ass. Nowhere in the baby books does it say, hey, just a headsup obstetricians charge you differently than any other doctor you've ever been to. Nor do they say, some practices might only have ultrasounds on a certain day so be sure to check with the scheduler when making an appointment. It's all a part of the experience, I suppose. Hopefully from here on out it will be smooth sailing, because these hormones are racing and for the safety of those in your office, I pray nothing like the above situations happen again.

Your Optimistic but Frustrated Patient,

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