Thursday, July 22, 2010

“Who are you?”

On June 3, I had an x-ray at Bleak House (i.e. Västmanland County Hospital/Centrallasarettet) of my kidney and bladder as a follow-up to surgery performed in March.

(Are you, faithful reader, as sick of reading about Bleak House as I am of writing about it? It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.)

I ask the nurse who does the x-ray when I will know the results. (I have some problems and really want to know what the x-ray shows.) She says if I don’t hear within a week that I should call.

A week later I call Radiology about the results. “X-ray results?!” the person answering the phone asks with astonishment. “That takes five weeks!” I explain that I was asked to call after a week. “Who told you that?” she asks. She then suggests that I call Urology since they ordered the x-ray.

It’s now almost mid-June and I’m going on vacation soon. I call Urology and explain that I will be going on vacation the following week and ask if I can find out the results before I leave. “The doctor just got the results yesterday!” says the nurse with exasperation. (Who do I think I am asking for such a quick response!)

A few days later the urologist calls me on my cell phone. I’m at a conference and cannot take the call. I ask if he can call the following day. No call. I call Urology again and ask if the doctor can call before Friday since that’s when I’m leaving town.

The urologist calls back. I explain that I want to know the results of the x-ray. He seems puzzled: “Who are you? What is your identification number?” He then asks, “Who ordered the x-ray?”

“Are you ______?” I ask. Yes. “You did,” I reply. By now it is clear he is stressed and doesn’t want to talk to me.

“The x-ray is normal,” he says suddenly.

I try to explain some concerns I have and to learn more about the x-ray. “I’ll explain it all in September,” he states, trying to end the call. (It's summer in Sweden. Nothing happens before September, even a report by phone about an x-ray done on June 3.)

How can he “explain it all” when he doesn’t even know what the problem is?

When I return from vacation in July, I call Urology. (“Urology. Nurse.” Is the curt greeting of the woman who answers the phone. I guess nurses who work there don’t have names.) I request a new doctor.

Consider it a vote of no confidence. I expect the doctor to know who he's talking to when he returns my call (a second time!) about the results of a test he ordered.