Erin go Bragh - Steve go Urologist - March 17, 2008

Due to yet another need to travel for work, I needed to leave Monday evening for Tucson again, and would need to miss the Urology appointment. I called the office on Friday and asked about moving the appointment. They asked which doctor I was with. I was told by the other (incompetent) staff at the first doctor's office that it was Dr. Scott Hopkins. "Impossible. He's in Surgery every Wednesday. Let's see...oh, you're with Dr. Gange." Fine. Can we move to Monday? "Not with Dr. Gange." I don't care which doctor, this is a first time referral. "We don't have any slots available, I can schedule you with a PA?" I don't need a Physician's Assistant, I need to see a Urologist. I have already seen a doctor for this. "Well, we can schedule you with Elizabeth Darling." Hmm. A female urologist. In Utah. That could be a tough gig - for her. I asked if she was any good. "Oh yes, we all like her." Fine. Do it. Jeez. So we are on for 2PM on Monday, March 17, St. Patrick's Day. Good thing I'm Irish.

On Sunday night my urine looked like cranapple juice. One time. Never happened before. Not good. I sneaked into the kitchen and appropriated the smallest kitchen sieve to pee through. Did not catch anything with it. Holes probably way too big.

As a hedge I book the 6:30 flight to Tucson instead of the 5:00. Headed down to the office, which is in the Sugar House area of Salt Lake City. About 10 minutes further than the first doctor. I hope this lady knows her stuff, for all this hassle. I find the building and go in to the second floor. Nice place, and there are about 20 folks in line, and the place is REALLY BUSY. It looks like a McDonald's at lunchtime. Mostly men, many holding their abdomens, all walking slowly, and a few women who were clearly there to support their men. Some needed it. Compared to everyone in line I was the picture of health and youth. I noticed the doctors' names on the door coming in, and Dr. Darling was not one of them. Seemed odd. After 20 minutes in line I was near the front (with a new 15 people behind me), and I see a poster on the door: Welcome to our newest member of staff, Elizabeth Darling, P.A. What the hell? I soon reach a friendly yet harried lady who is wearing a green "Cat in the Hat" style hat to celebrate the holiday. I explained that I was there to see a doctor, but appear to be scheduled with a PA. She verified that was the case and asked, "Do you want to cancel, or reschedule?" I said I really need to see a doctor TODAY, and that I had rearranged travel plans and driven 50 miles for that purpose. She persisted, "Cancel or reschedule?" I persisted back, "Are you telling me there is NO WAY to see a doctor today?" I was trying very hard to be charming, and failing miserably. She said, "We'll work you in," and turned into an icy bitch queen. I kept on trying to be nice, but there was no forgiveness for upsetting the norms.

After some paperwork, most of which I had filled out in advance, the angry Cat-in-Hat lady said, "We don't have the records from your doctor, so you are in a holding pattern until we do." I asked if she wanted me to call for them, and she said, "Up to you. I don't care." It's always good to know where you stand. I called the incompetent staff at the other office and ultimately convinced them to fax the stuff. To two different fax numbers. Twice each. Folks were still pouring in, through, and out. It was an amazing volume of slow-moving men. I waited about an hour for the line to dwindle, and got back in queue to ask them to look for the faxes. Just before I reached the front I was paged to go to the back, weighed, temperatured, and blood-pressured, told to pee in a cup, then left in an exam room. For 90 minutes. I was back with Dr. Hopkins, though, and he came in quickly and apologized for the wait. I was just happy to be there, finally, even if I sacrificed all future dealings with Ms. Cat-in-Hat.

Dr. Hopkins is the F-16 fighter pilot of Urologists. Youngish, fit, good-looking, and reeking confidence from every pore. He did a history and physical exam, including prostate, all in less than 2 minutes. He asked me numerous times about smoking, looking at me askance at my repeated denials. He told me, "We're going to do a CT scan of your kidneys and bladder, then bring you back in and look inside your bladder, since the X-rays won't tell us as much about the bladder as the kidneys and ureters. Afterwards, you won't ask me to do it again." Doc's got it all going on, and he's a comedian too. Whatever. He directed me to a staffer who set up the CT for the following Monday, and the scoping for the Monday afterward. I asked if I was supposed to pee through a screen, and they gave me one. My wife was not all that happy to get her kitchen sieve back, though!

I could tell the doc suspected cancer, but I suspected stones - either an adjunct of the gout I have, or hereditary - my dad had stones back in the day, younger than my current age. And what did the doctor know? There is NO family history of cancer, on either side, for several generations. Which he never asked about. All I needed to do was pass a couple of stones, and we could all relax. I was aware that there should be intense pain, though I had none, so I braced myself for impending pain. I would take it as a good sign. And I'm supposed to be tough. I'm Irish, after all! I headed for the airport and a couple of pre-flight beers at the Uinta Brewery, conveniently located 5 minutes from airport parking. Hefeweizens, not green ones.


Kathiesbirds said...

I can't believe what you had to go through just to get your medical records to the right place and just to get an appointment! My word! Your wife deserves a medal, or at least a dozen roses!

Steve Kelley said...

It's certainly true that loved ones suffer as much or more than those with the disease. Kathryn is in line for something nice!