“Doc! Before we get your kids, I wanted to talk to you about something…”
The woman pulled me from the front office to one of the side classrooms and proceeded to tell me about the pelvic pain she had experienced since the C-section delivery of her last child a year ago.
“I went to my OB/gyn and all she could say after an ultrasound and CT scan was that she didn’t know what was causing it!” She rolled her eyes. “I am so tired of doctors who don’t know anything. I need for you to tell me what it is. I know I am not your patient but I thought you might have a better idea.”
I just stared, my mind racing. What? I needed to get my kids and get back to the office. I had a patient I had not wrapped up yet who was getting an X-ray…
Quickly I told her that often these things are diagnosed as a process of ruling out things one by one which can be frustrating but it is important nonetheless. Since it was clearly not a gyn cause, she needed to make an appointment with her primary care doctor to look at other causes.
She was not happy. At all.
Back at the front, I was again stopped by another woman.
“Doc, before I call for your kids this other teacher wanted you to call her.” She pushed a torn piece of notebook paper toward me. The name Ms. Smith and a phone number had been scrawled across it in blue ink. Seriously? She was a preschool teacher but did not have any of my kids in her class.
I stood there and dialed the number on my cell. I waited, growing more impatient as it rang and rang. The X-ray was probably done by now…
“Hello, Doc!” She finally answered. “Thanks for calling me. I had a question about my daughter. I know she isn’t a patient of yours yet, but I was going to bring her in soon…”
She then proceeded to tell me that her daughter had developed neck pain earlier that day. Worried about meningitis because she read on the internet once that it could cause neck pain, she had taken the girl to an acute care facility (read doc-in-a-box). There they did a chest X-ray for some reason and told mom that her three year old kiddo had pneumonia.
“Did she have a cough or fevers or headache or runny nose?”
“Nope. And the neck pain is completely gone now, too. So my question is, do I give her the antibiotics?”
Was she really intending to bring her child to me soon? Or was she just blowing smoke? Do I even want to have her as a patient?
“Did you call her primary care doctor to ask them?”
“You should.” I wished her well, then turned to the woman who had been standing there listening intently to the conversation. “Could I please have my children now?”
She looked surprised, then seemed to remember. “Oh, sure…. Ok.”