My personal healthcare experience as a patient.
I injured my thumb on a family vacation trip to Jackson, Wyoming. It was an accident which I will give my husband full credit for, and he won’t deny it, but none the less it was an accident. Being a physical therapist and chiefly a manual physical therapist who uses their hands all day, losing the function of my thumb was not going to be easy. After I caught my breath, relocated my thumb to its rightful position, took an ibuprofen, I continued with the snowmobiling trip that we had planned. My husband insisted we visit the emergency department in Jackson, but to me, this wasn’t a life or death situation that required immediate attention. As long as the weather stayed below -30degrees I was pretty comfortable with my hand… mostly because I couldn’t feel anything.
When I returned back to Cheyenne, the thumb was becoming more and more painful despite the bracing that I did. I decided to finally visit urgent care that was near to me. I needed to see if I had done more damage to my thumb then what I thought I had done. Hopefully, an x-ray would be clear and this was merely a sprain. I called to see when the next appointment was available then sat in the waiting room for 20 minutes after my “scheduled” appointment. I was moved to a room waiting another 10 minutes before I was taken to get an x-ray. In the meantime, I had to leave to see a patient that was scheduled for physical therapy. On my return back, 45 minutes are so, they still hadn’t read the x-ray and I waited another 25 minutes to even see the x-ray. Looking at it I could already diagnose myself, “gamekeepers thumb” and knew what I needed to do: brace it.
During the whole time, the physician never really even looked at me. He
I examined his posture as he was typing his notes. “Neck pain?” I asked. “Yes!” as he finally turned to look at me. “You should be fine.” he turned back to his computer. I scanned the x-ray again. “Hmmm” I could definitely see the avulsion fracture and alignment indicating a UCL rupture. But I wasn’t concerned, I was definitely going to be fine. “Could I get a prescription for a thumb spica? My insurance will only reimburse with a prescription.” I asked. “Sure, let me get one of the OccMed guys to help you out.”
I might have gathered that if I possibly bumped into this physician 10 minutes later in the hallway, he would never know who I was or that he had just seen me and my bones nearly 9.5 minutes ago.
Change of venue and animal.
My dog tore both of his ACLs in the summer of 2017. Through our primary Veterinarian, we were referred to an “ACL” specialist because of the extent of the damage. When we arrived at the new clinic, we were immediately greeted “is this Charlie?” We were brand new to this facility and there was another dog family coming in after us, but they knew who we were and why we were there. Charlie was more concerned about the family coming in through the door behind us. The tech came out and immediately got down on one knee and greeted Charlie with a big smile and a “happy to see you here” voice. We took him over to get weighed and off we went into a treatment room.
The doctor came in shortly after we entered the room, he had previous images available that he went over with us. Even knowing what the images indicated he palpated the joints, moved the knees around, checked out the hip, made sure the back was okay (which was a concern of ours as well). He explained his thought process, his concerns for his breed (mixed Great Dane), what we could expect, what our options were, the time frame of healing, rehabilitation including canine physical therapy, and his expectations. Never did he look into his notes, computer, or the floor. He kept his focus on us and Charlie the whole time.
Before, during, and after the surgery, we received followup calls or text messages to ask us how Charlie was doing or if they could answer any questions. When we took him home, they gave us a log to follow for all of his medications and expectations of his healing plotted out on a table. They reviewed his exercises and what to expect from canine physical therapy. Not a question was left unanswered or uncared for, even questions were answered that we didn’t think about. Each followup was one
I know the two experiences were for different reasons and different species. But I know what made me feel important and like I mattered. I know what I prefer. I prefer to be listened to, feel like I belong and that I am in the right place, maybe even feel like I can be recognized 5 minutes from now. Everyone deserves a happy and excited person to greet you and engage in a discussion regarding your
What Healthcare can be.
That is why I practice as I do. Each person deserves to tell their story and be a part of their decision making. They deserve to understand what is expected of them or even to understand what is “wrong” with them. I want each person that I see to know that I don’t stop thinking about them when they leave the clinic. Maybe even get a message from me. Yes, there are many a night that I stay up thinking about what could we have done better, what needs to change, and is there good research out there to prove the treatment we choose to use? Sometimes I realize that what I offer may not be the best for the person in front of me, but I will never stop trying to find what will help even if it’s a phone call to say “you got this!
Occasionally I may even wag my tail.