Around the time I turned 50, my original Body Warranty expired. At the very least, it seemed as though I were a possible candidate for the Lemon Law. I take a hefty list of medications with long Latin names that I cannot remember. Previously, my doctor visits resembled this scenario:
Dr. Bunion: “So, Mrs. Kraus, tell me about the medicines you take.”
I am a trifle annoyed and therefore my voice is somewhat sarcastic.
“I wrote them on the health form in the office. Didn’t you even look at that?”
The doctor frowned at my impertinence. “What medicines do you take?”
Obviously, he never read that three page form that I slaved over for 25 minutes, in the germ-laden waiting room, as sick people coughed, hacked and sneezed their illnesses all over me.
Me: “Hmmm. I take medicine for blood pressure, cholesterol, anxiety, aspirin, medicine for bone density and…”
Dr. Bunion: “Do you remember which ones?”
I cannot believe what I am hearing. Do I look like a flippin’ pharmacist?
Dutifully, I try to think. “No. They all have long names, though. I think the one for bone density has a B in it. Maybe it begins with a B.”
The doctor visit goes downhill as we discuss my assorted physical ailments. I reel off 8 health problems, which the doctor writes down, despite the fact that they are all listed on the forms I already filled out. What the heck happened to those darn forms?
Dr. Bunion: “Anything else?”
Secretly, I know he’s thinking, What a loser! On the other hand, with all her health problems, this pathetic whiner could be the ticket to that candy apple red convertible I’ve been eyeing.
“No, that’s it!”
Doctor: “OK, let’s check your blood pressure.” He hooks me up to the monitor. Then I remember…
“Wait! I forgot I have a hiatal hernia!”
Dr. Bunion stops pumping, writes on my folder, and starts the blood pressure gadget again.
Me: “Wait! I thought of another one! I have a heart murmur!”
Before the examination is over, I have added two more conditions to my chart. As Dr. Bunion escapes from the examining room in relief, I chase him down the hall, clad only in my torn and wrinkled paper gown, my sagging rear hanging out.
Me: “Hey, Doc! I also have Restless Legs Syndrome. Write that down!”
To streamline my visits, I created a Doctor Visit Medical History Organizer. I bring 2 printed copies of my medications and my current conditions. My conditions are listed in order of importance, coded for urgency. For example:
3 Star Issues: not breathing, bleeding profusely from any body part
2 Star Issues: broken body parts, misplaced organs
1 Star Issues: peeing when I laugh
When I receive my forms to fill out, I write in the personal information on the front. On the medical history part, I write See attached sheets. In 2 minutes flat, I pull my mini-stapler out of my purse. Once again, Jeanne Kraus has beaten the system.
Unfortunately, it can throw off the doctor’s time schedule. I stride up to the counter and hand the forms to the appointment clerk. A wrinkle crosses her brow as she views the form.
“You have to fill it all out!” she insists.
I am feeling very positive about my new plan and about doctor offices in general. “I did! See? Here is my complete list of medical conditions and medications attached to the back.” I smile broadly at her, impressed with my organizational skills and terrific attitude.
Alas! I am the only cheerful one. Nurse Nasty continues without a trace of a smile. “This is going to cause a major problem for our carefully timed waiting room balance. You see, your appointment is for 3:30 but we plan on 4:00 because it will take you half an hour to complete the forms.”
Me: “But my appointment is at 3:30. It’s 3:30 now.”
Nurse: “Correct. The 3:00 people are just finishing their forms and they will be next. We will call you at 4:00 and not before.”
At this point, I realize that since the doctor does not even look at the forms from the waiting room, they must be just busywork to keep the patients from becoming too rowdy. I am tempted to complain but this evil person holds my waiting room future in her ink-stained hands.
I’m back to playing the medical waiting game.