Nuts & Bolts of Calling a Doctor’s Office

This subject seems to come up a lot, so I thought I would do a Tutorial on how to get in touch with a person and not a machine when you’re calling a doctor’s office.

My first and probably most important piece of information is:

CALL EARLY IN THE MORNING!

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I cannot stress this enough. Even if you have to wait on hold for awhile. I tend to call about 9:45am. By then the logjam has passed and the way is pretty clear.

Calling in the morning gives the doctor the entire day to get your chart, prescribe meds or answer your questions. Lunch time is the usual time they read your message, so if you call in the afternoon, unless you are in the ER, you will be waiting until the next day for an answer.

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If you are really in a crisis (psych, serious fever or infection), I would call back right after lunch. Be your nicest self! NO yelling about “Why hasn’t she called me back yet?!?” crap. Just kindly say, “I need help. I am so ill. Can I come in tomorrow morning? Or might I talk to the nurse or doctor this afternoon?”

“I need help” is a wonderful way of garnering sympathy for your situation.

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A Practice with a Receptionist

If your doctor is in a practice with a receptionist, it’s easier to get a hold of the doc you’re needing because someone should always be available during the 9-5 workday.

You often will be triaged by a nurse before getting a message to the doctor. Still, the earlier you call, the earlier your voice will be heard.

Most offices close for lunch… either between 12pm and 1pm or between 1pm and 2pm. Calling then, you will get a machine. Leaving a message on a machine is like talking into an abyss. Call back when lunch is over.

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Calling Mental Health Professionals

Therapists especially are meticulous with the timing of their appointments. They are 50 minutes long, beginning at the top of the hour, ending at 50 minutes after. I have great luck calling in that 10 minute window between clients. Some will listen to messages and call back during that time, but many pick up the phone, too.

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Know what you are going to say. They have moments to figure out what you need before the next appointment starts. Write it down if you need to before you call. Be ready!

Psychiatrists’ schedules are a bit more wonky, so leaving a message might be necessary. Just as if you were talking to a person, have what you want to say ready. The more info you can leave in the shortest amount of time… being concise… helps everyone get their needs met.

Playing Dumb

When I really need to get through to someone (and you pick your battles here), I feign accidentally hitting the button that says “If you are a care provider and need to speak to someone now, press 1.” Use that sparingly, especially in the same practice. Really, judicious use, please.

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Bypassing Automated  Menus

If you’ve read this far, I get to teach you a trick I learned from another operator. Not specifically for doctor’s offices, but really helpful for banks, phone companies, cable companies, DMVs… any of the bazillion places that have phone trees you seem to be forever lost in.

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Press 0 (zero) fast, over and over and over again. PressPressPressPressPress a dozen or more times. 8 out of 10 times, this gets me to a person.

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Patient Portals

If you doctors’ office has a Patient Portal, sign up for it asap!

In the portal, you can email your provider, ask for refills, make appointments without calling and see your chart and most lab results.

Patient Portals are the best.

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If I didn’t answer something, ask me about it!

The Tarnishing of Trump

I have this vision of the Oval Office having “FUCK FUCK SHIT FUCK”s bouncing off the walls like molecules pinging in boiling water.

It is not uncommon for that now-golden-hued room to hear expletives, but I’m betting that as the days unroll with the word “Russia” in each sentence, the “Shit, fuck, damn’s” have been accelerating and getting progressively louder. (And amusing side note: When searching “trump White House expletives,” the suggestions at the bottom of the page all had Bannon’s name in them. Hilarious… and expected.)

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For 100 days, I cried and wrung my hands in terror that someone in the White House would accidentally (or on purpose) hit The Red Button and our world would be annihilated.

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During those first 100 days, with every stroke of the president’s pen that removed women and children’s rights, that signed away our natural resources so the rich could get richer, that created enormous doses of xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism, ordering the confiscation and deportation of people struggling to stay alive and on and on and on… and with every bizarre cabinet appointment, my heart broke and despair settled in.

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I was directed by my doctors to stop watching the news because all it did was submerge me deeper into depression. I was joined by millions of others who had the new PTSD diagnosis called President Trump Stress Disorder, our nation’s leader now holding the distinction of being the first president to have an anxiety disorder named after him.

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Will Durst says in President Trump Stress Disorder (Baxter Bulletin):

An epidemic is sweeping the nation, causing sufferers to experience feelings of hopeless doom, certain annihilation and cataclysmic collapse. It’s an existential plague manifesting itself by enveloping the stricken in a black cloud of despairing suicidal thoughts. The malady that is striking down innocent citizens left and lefter is … the Presidency of Donald J. Trump. It is literally making people sick.

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But now, with the variety of Russian headlines intertwined with you all in that Oval Office, I am glued to the TV, the real news, (what you call the “fake news,”) and I sit on the edge of my seat waiting for the next delicious morsel of information.

And I am no longer depressed.

It is no longer Opposite Day in America.

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Instead of my being unable to sleep, now it is your turn to toss and turn all night, worrying about your futures. I, on the other hand, am finally able to sleep soundly.

And every morning since Day 100, I wake up smiling again.

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Who Is “45”?

“45” is what I call POTUS, the 45th president of the United States, that horrid man who squats in the White House tweeting (LYING) about random topics to divert our attention from the fucked up bullshit he does that will, PLEASE GODDESS, get him impeached.

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Into the Abyss

We had some really nasty storms here in Orlando the past couple of days. During one particularly enormous gust, the electricity slammed off.

And They Vanished

I easily have hundreds of thousands of photos on my computer and several hundreds of thousands more on an off-site photo storage facility, SmugMug, that caters to professional photographers. (I love SmugMug; they are awesome.)
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Anyway, I am in my photos several times a day, so when I opened my Pictures and it was nearly empty of my folders, each one holding thousands of pics, my stomach clenched and I thought I was going to throw up.

Had I done something to them? Deleted them? Filed them somewhere else? I am in this Manic Phase, could I have done something with them and not remembered?

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Delving Deep

I’ve been on the Internet since 1995 and I know how computers work pretty well. I know how it holds things… and how it loses things. I have lost everything twice in all these years, two computer crashes that swept everything into the ether. My pictures, my words. Everything I’d put on the computer, gone.

(Back in the olden days, it was a challenge saving things. Those enormous floppy disks, then 3.5 inch floppies/diskettes… nothing held much data and I knew nothing about external hard drives back then.)

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The first time my computer died and everything vanished, I thought I was going to die. Quite literally. I was in a state of shock for far too long, then in mourning after that. I can still touch those emotions all these years later.

The second time it happened, I blinked, knew everything was forever-gone, took a deep breath, sighed, shrugged… and started all over again on the next computer.

Once I learned how to back-up my work, I did. Having a blog helped tremendously, my knowing my words would be forever online. Then, when I began taking hundreds, then thousands, of photos at births and at Disney World, I tried to keep them on at least 2 computers. Finally, SmugMug came along and I was able to put my pics in a safe, off-site place as well. I felt enormous relief.

But I have not sent any pics into SmugMug for at least 2 years.

So, 2 years of stuff has vanished. Blessedly, Meghann has every picture of her family, grandbabies included, so even though my copies are gone, she has them all for me. Thank goodness for Facebook’s Photos sections, too, so I can grab Aimee and Tristan’s pics again. However, there are loads of pics of me that I do not have anywhere else. Gone.

Recovery

As I said, I am pretty good on the computer, so while I was distressed earlier tonight, even crying at times, I set to work looking for the lost files. Starting at the top and working my way down the tree, I searched. And searched. I scoured the Recycle Bin, recovering everything just in case I was missing something in my being upset. I poked around all the hidden places files and folders could hide, yet found nothing. I tried to move the computer’s date back in time, but it was stubborn and wouldn’t let me.

I was getting frustrated when my wondrous cyber-lover jumped in and brought logic and sensibility into my view, replacing the enormous mountain of emotion I’d been floundering in for the last several hours.

He Googled the problem and, lo and behold, this has happened to others before me! (Can you hear me laughing at how crazy I was not thinking about Googling earlier?!)

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Apparently, there are apps to use to recover lost data. I am quite scared about downloading just anything lest there be nasty viruses included in them. I’m trying to figure out whether I should research and grab a recovery app to try and find my lost photos… or should I just sigh loudly and move on. At the moment, I am in a resolved place that the Universe doesn’t want me to have those pictures.

I can live with that.

 

Bipolar Diary: (Fucking) Depression

I am immobilized by depression now.

I cannot work. I can barely write. I am sleeping 100 hours a day.

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artist, Ksenia Anske

Yet ANOTHER Visit to the Psychiatrist

Over and over and over I go, like on a loop, sitting in the Psych’s office, trying to form words that explain how I feel:

  • Despondent
  • Apathetic
  • Useless
  • Premonitions of Agoraphobia
  • Infinitely sad (made worse by Aleppo)
  • So, so, so tired

And words I do not share because they will toss me in the hospital if they fall out of my mouth. We’ll just let them sit in there and rot.

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artist, David Kessler

Medications

Another change in meds. Lowering the Risperdal, upping the Wellbutrin. Will it make one iota of a difference? Can’t I have some speed, please? “We don’t want you having those horrible hallucinations again, do we?” (Yes, please. If I can stay awake.)

Change cannot come soon enough.

Politics: Brokenhearted

I go a couple three days without reading even headlines. Then, like tonight, I peek at what is trending.

And now I am despondent.

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artist, Anna Giladi

Just the headlines are enough to make me want to crawl in a hole. Imagining these people in control, making rules and regulations (or undoing regulations as the case may be)… it’s terrifying.

Rape

I do not say the word “rape” lightly. I do not use it randomly. I have been raped. I know the seriousness of the word.

So when I say I am horrified seeing who is going into the Cabinet because they are going to rape the United States, I mean it with all the terror that comes with the word.

The people being appointed are going to make the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) “conflict” look like a picnic. They are going to dig deep into the land, tearing up beautiful homes, ruining National Parks… and the repercussions will be felt/known/experienced for hundreds of years after these fucking pigs are out of office and dead.

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Hopeless

I felt hopeless for a couple of hours. My chest felt like someone was sitting on it; I struggled to breathe. My blessed cub held me and talked to me as I cried about how horrible this all is.

And it hasn’t even begun yet!

I think that’s the scariest for me is if I am this upset and sad now, what am I going to be like in a year when we are in the middle of the rape, still years ahead to be attacked… every which way we try to get away, to fight our attacker, he strong-arms us and continues the assault.

Not Giving Up

I saw this photo:

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I cannot let anyone die alone.

No LGBTQIA+ youth who is outed because of new laws will not be alone. We will do everything in our power to save you from the evils of “conversion therapy”… torture.

No woman who has to have an illegal abortion because abortion has been outlawed will not be alone. Those who can will learn to do abortions safely, despite the laws, risking jail, but finding the risk is far less than a woman attempting self-abortion.

No Muslim who has to “Register” to be in this country will not register alone. Women who have their hijabs mocked or pulled off will be defended so she is able to practice her religion in this country that still allows religious freedom (so far).

No woman who is attacked… grabbed “by the pussy”… will not mourn and heal alone.

No Black man, woman or child will endure the escalating hate and murder alone.

No immigrant, here legally or “illegally,” will fight to live here alone.

No Native American will have to wrest their rightful land back from the lying White people alone.

No disabled person will be left to live or suffer alone. We will find the tools they (WE!) need for anyone who still has needs. We will not let the world become completely able-ist, forgetting/not caring for those who have challenges.

No writer, photographer or artist will be censored. We will find ways to get the words and images out to the world.

No child who is hungry and has lost their free breakfasts, lunches or dinners will starve alone. We will find food for you precious babies of ours.

And then there are the promises I cannot keep:

We will not know the impact slashing Social Security will have on our elder Americans. Will they die alone freezing and starving while those in charge have billions of dollars to spare?

What are we going to do for our mentally ill (myself included)? What if our free care is removed? What if we are not allowed our medications, therapy, our psychiatrists?

We know a only fraction of our brothers, sisters and others who have killed themselves because of their despair of who is coming into the White House. What of all the others who are misgendered, hidden, reported as dying of “natural” or “accidental” causes when they really overdosed on purpose. So many suffering without our knowing they are there.

I need to go house by house looking for those in pain. Like the Christians in Germany who saved the Jews, taking chances, risking death even… all to save even one soul.

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Reaching Out

I might cry again. No, I will cry again.

But I cannot give up. I cannot let someone die reaching out for another hand. I know mine is not the only one searching. Maybe, just maybe, if we all keep holding our arms out, joining hands, we might be able to save more than just one person.

I cannot give up.

Bipolar Diary: Triggers

It’s really sucky to just be living your life, tooling along as usual, talking with your lover… and then BAM! have your head smacked with a baseball bat and suddenly being an incoherent, crazy person contradicting yourself and being mean to the last person on earth you want to be mean to.

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I can’t even find the words yet for how embarrassed and ashamed I am for hurting someone I love so much.

I know. triggers are triggers and sometimes cannot be helped because seeing them down the road isn’t possible.

They still suck.

Bad.

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