In case I forget.


If I Didn’t Need Therapy Before…
October 10, 2006, 11:13 am
Filed under: Brain Bits, Dr. PCP, Mental Health, Neuro

It’s been since July. Not a constant pursuit, but rather, innumerable phone calls, hours spent on my insurance company’s web site, multiple office visits (and a couple of humiliations).

I have a great PCP. We respect one another. He gives me his best, and I work hard at living with and acting on his advice. He gives good advice. In July, after that unfortunate incident on his exam room floor, he – understandably – urged me to immediately start therapy with a good counselor. He took my insurance company’s list of counselors and marked it up with his recommendations.

But if you have any experience with the modern world of third-party-pay-medicine, you know how it goes. Most of the doctors have 6-8 week waits, if they’re accepting new patients at all. Some you never get a call back from and some make you wish you never had. I live in a big city so I had a larger pool to choose from which makes me luckier than a lot of people.

I tried three over a period of a few weeks. I’ve talked about it here before – one took phone calls during the first session, one told me that all I needed to do was let go of my anger at the man who hurt me, the other I saw three times and on the third visit when he witnessed me having a seizure in his office, LAUGHED at me. As you can imagine, I felt a little burned.

So it’s been a number of weeks and I need to try again. I really need to. Yesterday I began the round of phone calls and web-site trolling again. I had originally gone looking for a neuropsychologist but there was only one covered by my insurance and she was closed to new patients. This time I skipped it completely and tried regular therapists again. Tough morning.

In the afternoon, I ran across the name of a doctor I was pretty sure I knew, and had a good feeling about. I called my sister. “Hey, remember when we worked at that answering service?” (This was 25 years ago – our first jobs.) She remembered and I said, “Remember Dr. XXX?” and she did remember him – the same way I did. So this is a notice to all doctors and therapists: if you’re an asshole to your answering service operators, they WILL remember many years later when they possibly become your patient, or when they are advising friends on which professionals to see. They will ALSO remember you is you’re a kind, courteous, decent human being. My sister and I both remember Dr. XXX as being just that. She said, “I always had a warm fuzzy feeling about him.” I remember also that his patients were always under control, even when they were in crisis, and I always thought that this had a lot to do with his manner. He returned urgent calls promptly. He was kind when we spoke with him – even at four in the morning. His patients trusted that he would be there for them, and they respected his time.

So I called. This is funny – I got his answering service. Ha! I left a message asking for a new patient appointment. He personally called me back in 3 minutes. Instead of taking my insurance info and setting an appointment he talked to me for about 15 minutes, asking very personal and pointed questions but in the kindest and most patient was possible. The point was that he didn’t want to waste my time by seeing me without knowing if he might be able to help me. He DID end up helping me even though he said he didn’t think he would be the appropriate counselor for me.

He urged me to seek a neuropsychologist and gave me two names. I explained the insurance issues and he told me to talk with them about it anyway – he bet they could work something out. He was the Dr. XXX my sister and I remembered.

I called the first neuropsych. He is booked through January except for “emergencies”. I called the second. Her assistant took the call and I asked about new patient appointments. She asked me told hold and – get this – the doctor came on the line. I told her that Dr. XXX had referred me, and she started to ask the same questions he had asked. We talked about the out-of-network problem. She said told me that she wanted to see me, that Dr. XXX is someone she trusts and that if he told me to call her that she would make it happen. We talked a lot about money and you know, we’ve got that worked out. She THEN told me that she needed to call another patient and ask if they would move their appointment because she always tries to see Dr. XXX’s patients immediately. I said, I’m not his patient – he only talked with me on the phone. She said that didn’t matter, she had that much respect for him. I told her that I’m not in crisis, that it isn’t an emergency. She chuckled and said if it were an emergency she would be sending me to an ER.

So I’m seeing her today. She is a specialist in helping people with brain injuries. She knows of my neurologist and, I found out after doing some more interneting that she’s director of a private clinic that she started 35 years ago.

The moral of this story is that everything you do in your life could, sometimes years later, effect what you do in your future. My job 25 years ago led me to remember Dr. XXX. His kindness made me remember him all these years later. And maybe his kindness has led me now to someone I can go to for help. I’m not in a really bad place but I’m not in a really good one, either. It’s been a really tough two years and the last six months have been worse than all the broken bones.

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