Thursday 08 Dec 2016

Loyalty Takes Two
Matt Seinberg

Recently, for my Grubstreet Top 40, I needed to answer a question about what I valued most in my friends. Well, that can go for almost anything or anyone, including how we conduct our own lives.

I’ve been using the same dentist since I was 16. I used the same doctor as well, until he retired in 2009, but I continued to use the same practice he was at, and used another doctor I liked. Dr. A. is very thorough, and it’s thanks to him I saw all these other doctors this last year.

I’m not just loyal to doctors if I like them. I used the same haircutter for almost 17 years, even after I moved. Finally, it was a chore to go there and I found someone else, closer to my house, and I’ve been using her for over 11 years now. She watched my kids grow. In that time, she married and had kids. Lucky her, as kid number 3 is on the way!

My oldest friends are from 7th and 11th grade and my first year of college. When I have friends, I generally keep them a long time, sort of like a favourite pet as long as they don’t make a mess in the house.

I bring this up because of something that just happened when I went to see my physician, today. I’m sure that it has happened to everyone at one time or another, if not every time. I have walked out on appointments because I had to wait way past my appointment time. I had to go to work or had something else to do. My time is valuable too.

That something is having an appointment for a specific time, such as 1:15 pm, and not being seen until 2:30 pm. This happened, today. I was steaming, to say the least.

When I arrived for my appointment, I made it a point of asking how many people were in front of me. The receptionist told me there were two ahead of me. Not too bad, I’m thinking, I should be in by 2 pm at the latest.

Imagine my utter frustration at 2:30 pm, when I was still in the waiting room. I went to the receptionist and asked when I was going to see the physician. I explained I arrived at 1 pm for a 1:15 pm appointment; it’s now 2:30 pm. I said that if my appointment didn’t happen in five minutes, I was leaving and not coming back.

Do you see the steam coming out of my ears at this point? I also explained that my kids come home from school at 3 pm. This was cutting it too close.

When I sit down, I see a husband and wife as frustrated as I am. I tell them how long I’ve been waiting. He’s as mad as am I. I also tell him that this will be my last appointment with this physician, as it happens every single time I come here.

Within 4 minutes, someone asks into the back room. “Can I once again pee into a cup, please?” Waiting all that time makes it easy, thank goodness.

You see, I’ve been on a medication call Uraxatrol, which is for men with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH,). Before I was on this medication, I was getting up 3-to-5 times during the night to use the bathroom. That is very disruptive on my sleep pattern, to say the least. I was getting up in the morning feeling as if I never slept.

Then the technician gives me a quick sonogram and Dr. D., compares it with the previous one and is happy. I had been holding 91 milligrams of urine before. Now I’m only holding 21 milligrams. Talk about a great improvement.

During the time I was in the exam room, Dr. D took two calls, on his cell phone. I found this rude. Let it go to voice mail if you’re with a patient.

At this point, I decide to bring up having to wait every time I come in for a visit. Most people would at least apologize, but this physician says he takes his work very seriously. I should notice how he’s sitting and talking to me and giving me what time I need.

Every patient has different needs, and mine were simple. Get me in, do what you have to do and let me go. I don’t need 45 minutes of your time, so why should I have to wait for those two patients in front of me to be done? Can’t you multitask and see more than one patient at a time?

He makes the following statement: “If you have a 1:15 pm appointment and end up in the hospital at 1 o’clock, I’m going to tell you to go screw yourself.” Then he leaves the room, without saying goodbye, and I hear him muttering under his breath, as he slams something down. I’m stunned to say the least.

There was no reason to treat me the way he did. I know if I treated someone at work in the same manner, my boss fires on the spot, no questions asked. Why should this physician have any sort of immunity for such action? This is his business. There is no one higher up to whom I can complain. Will writing a letter to the College of Physicians and Surgeons do anything? I doubt it, but I’ll do it anyway.

I have no loyalty to this physician or his practice. Another physician, I go to, provided names of two other urologists he recommended. When I need another check-up, I’ll use one of them. Of course, I’ll ask the office how their schedule runs, and what the usual wait times are.

Can you tell I’m mad right now? Fury knows no patient who made to wait, especially me. I really hate to wait. So if you’re in an office, waiting way past your appointment time, don’t be afraid to say something. What are they going to do, fire you?

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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