... and it's just a rib contusion, or, as the cute doctor said, just a fancy way of saying I have a bruise on the inside.
This was not before going through HMO hell, however.
First, I called my Primary Care Physician, who is some guy I've seen just a couple times at a facility with a number of doctors. I'm sent through a string of "press this number for a referral" and an answering machine, so I decide to head on in there. I head on in there, gasping for air because I'm still not breathing right at that point, and the woman says, "Sorry, we take no walk-ins. You must make an appointment in the morning tomorrow."
I tell her I don't need an appointment, I just need a referral.
"Well," she said. "The doctor won't give you a referral without seeing you."
"And you won't let me see him until tomorrow?"
"No. You must make an appointment tomorrow morning."
"So, if my rip is broken and is poking into my lung right now, filling my lung with blood, you're okay with me just leaving without seeing anyone?"
"No, if you have an emergency, you can go to the emergency room."
"But I need a referral, right?"
"You don't need a referral if it's a life-threatening emergency."
"I don't know if it's a life-threatening emergency or not."
"Well, I can't diagnose that. You have decide that on your own, then decide if you want to go. But you'll be responsible for all costs if it's deemed not an emergency."
I leave without saying thank you.
I then call my insurance company. They tell me that I should not take that exchange as a referral, and that I need a referral. Otherwise, as the bitchy lady said, if I got to the ER, if it's not an emergency, I will be billed the hundreds of dollars for an ER visit. I call the place back, and leave a message about referrals as I'm instructed to do. Hopefully that takes because, either way, I wasn't going to risk dying because of HMO bullshit.
After that, everything goes pretty smoothly. Union Memorial boasts some of the nicest people working in medicine in the Baltimore area, I have to say - a welcome change from the Bel Air Medical Center that my primary care physician works at. However, they took a long time - first I waited to see the admitting desk, then to see the registration desk, then to see the Physician's Assistant student, then to see the Doctor, then to see the X-ray guy, then to see the releasing nurse, then to see the releasing Doctor. I was there for four hours.
However, my room at the ER had cable, so I watched CNN for the first time in months. Then a rerun of The Simpsons. Then of Seinfeld. Then of Friends. Then of Everybody Loves Raymond. (I found I'm not missing much by not having cable.) And I'm glad I went in, because even though my fall was nothing serious, they told me to expect some pain tomorrow, and I'm sure I would have been freaked out by it had I not gone in. Now, I know it's just tender, not broken.
There's a cute doctor at Union Memorial who wrote "Get Well Soon" with a heart and her name Jamie on her diagnosis sheet. She had the funky glasses that I like and talked to me about teaching and loving The Tempest. This all after she saw me with my shirt off. I wonder if she writes a heart on all of her diagnoses...
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