I had an appointment on a Wednesday. The sole purpose of this appointment was to get me a referral to this private rehabilitation clinic which I’ve been umming and ahhing over whether I should go to for a few months.
It occurred to me that if I’d been thinking consistently for months with no signs of stopping, it was time to cut my losses and go. My depression was intense for that whole time it felt like, and then I’d gone the other way and was a mess of raw nerves. The mood stabilisers clearly weren’t doing their jobs.
So I had my appointment. Then on Tuesday afternoon, the receptionist called me to say that my doctor had cancelled all her appointments, and would it be ok if she scheduled me with someone else?
I resisted the urge to shout the above down the phone. What kind of question is that? It’s not ok. It’s not the receptionist’s fault, but it’s not ok. You can’t just throw someone like me with ongoing chronic health problems at a new GP and expect them to run with it on the fly. You could do it with, say, a surgeon, but GPs typically don’t brief each other like specialists do. Asking one who doesn’t know me to refer me to a mental health clinic, or for anything really, is problematic when they don’t know my history because of course they have to explain why they’re sending me there so when they don’t know me, that makes for a much more complicated appointment.
I’ve been in that position before and some take a lot of convincing, while others, god forbid, tell me that they respect my ability to understand what I need to managing this condition I’ve had for years so of course I can have the referral. And plenty of GPs don’t get mental health. They all have their strengths and weaknesses but struggling to accept the recognition of a health problem as a, well, health problem is a deficit that I can’t forgive.
Anyway, I needed that bloody referral and my GP only works one day a week. I wasn’t prepared to wait, so I asked her who was available in the practice. It’s a large clinic, and there are about four or so doctors who I know are cool with mental health stuff even if I don’t see them regularly. Luckily for me, one appointment with my back up GP was available.
This back up GP being my secondary doctor that my regular one had picked out given her limited schedule and my need for more than average clinic time, so that she could ensure that I would be seeing someone sympathetic to my particular needs. I had seen him a few times before by now, we get on well and he has a basic understanding of my history.
He had never written me a referral to my clinic before and while he readily agreed that I needed to go, he seemed very concerned about how to present it in writing. I suppose one does not get through medical school without some traits of perfectionism.
He placed a call to the triage nurse and she called him back instantly (I’ve long held the belief that the dastardly woman never actually picks up and only rings back when someone leaves a message.) With her guidance he wrote a long explanation of my case, although I’ve been to that clinic enough times that by now I like to think I require little explanation.
He wished me luck and sent me on my less than merry way with promise to fax my referral immediately.
I’ve made it sound like getting a referral is a total pain and it can be. It wasn’t on this occasion although it has been for me previously. The difficult part, the part with the most uncertainty is what comes next between referral and admission.
Waiting. What else?
And that’s the story for next time.