So, a while back I went to see my cardiologist. I'm in my mid-seventies now, so that's no surprise. I'm on my third pacer now, an 'ICD' model which is supposed to give me a good solid jolt of electricity if my heart should suddenly stop. They say it's like being kicked in the chest by a mule and you would never forget it, and that if it ever happens you will always dread another jolt. A little concerning yes, but I figure, why worry? I rationalize it will be time enough to worry after that first jolt, if that ever happens. Besides, I am not a worrier by nature and prefer to look on the bright side, the cup half full if you will. I am from the school which contends worrying is worse than the happening, is very counter-productive and is far more responsible for much illness and consternation in and of itself.
Worrying never fixed anything anyway, so why indulge? It is sad waste of usable brain power in my opinion.
But that's not to say I don't think about things sometimes. Thinking is not exactly worrying, is it? Or if it is, maybe it's a form of 'sorta worrying'. And my 'thinking about things sorta worrying' usually comes in the middle of the night in a dream which wakes me up. Maybe that is merely my subconscious taking over the worrying responsibilities for me? And when that happens I'm usually pissed, not because my sleep is interrupted, although that is part of it and I am sometimes unable to go back to sleep, but that the subject of my dream is something which angers me.
Like last night, or rather 4:30 AM this morning. I woke up pissed, thinking about something which happened concerning my cardiologist the last time I went to see him.
Most of my medical care these days comes through the Veterans Administration The VA installed my heart pacers. They monitor me closely and my ICD even has some sort of internal radio signaling component which wirelessly communicates with a unit at my bedside which then sends periodic reports to a monitoring facility in San Francisco.
My ICD is 'interrogated' roughly every six months on a visit to VA hospital where they hook me up to some very expensive looking computerized machines with flashing lights which beep and whir and click. Somehow magnetically, they can also adjust and calibrate my ICD implant to fine tune it. Once they apparently turned a dial the wrong way, and I kind of 'died' in the exam room. In my head things rapidly went yellow, then grey, then black and there wasn't a thing I could do about it. When I regained consciousness with colors in my head coming back in reverse order, the doctor and nurse were all in a panic jumping up and down and calling my name. They apologized very profusely and said they had done something wrong which caused it. I think at that moment it came to me just how dependent I am on my implanted ICD. On the other hand, if that's what dying is all about, it's no big deal. You just quietly 'go away'.
And, like I said, I ain't gonna worry about it.
But, back to my cardiologist. The Veterans Administration, despite whatever negative press you may have heard about it, provides the best medical care I have ever experienced. It is high quality, kind, compassionate, and many of the caregivers are veterans themselves so they can relate on a very personal level with their patients. The VA's care is better by far in my opinion than any 'civilian' hospital care I have ever experienced, including a fairly recent emergency hospitalization for pneumonia. I will go out of my way to avoid dealing with medical care outside the VA system these days. However, the VA advises consulting with outside specialists like cardiologists as backups and for having a reliable double check nearby.
So, since moving to this part of the country I have used a cardiologist who I see about every six months. He's a nice guy and my only rub was his office staff. Each time I went for a visit they wanted me to fill out their paperwork all over again. I did so once, but the second time they asked I balked. I got a little outraged right in their waiting room and refused to fill their forms out anew. I told them they already had all my info, nothing had changed and I saw no good reason to do their several pages all over again, and in fact, was not going to do so. I think more to keep me quiet and from disturbing their other patients they quickly saw things my way and dropped their insistence on their redundant nonsense. Whenever I went back to see them after that, they simply asked me to take a seat to wait to be called, although I did notice other patients, patiently filling out their own forms. I suppose there's a damned good reason we are called 'patients'?
So good, right? Well yes, as long as that lasted. On a more recent visit, the cardiologist told me that I would not need to drive the twenty or so miles to his office as he was opening a new visitation clinic about two miles from my home at the local hospital in my little town. An appointment was duly made and when the time came, I happily headed over to our local hospital keep it. As soon as I checked in, I was handed a sheaf of paperwork to complete. I handed it right back and told the clerk they already had it on file. Not only did my cardiologist have all my information, the local hospital did as well since I had been treated there too fairly recently. Nothing had changed.
"I'm sorry Sir, but that's the hospital policy." was the reply. "I am only doing what they tell me and my boss says we have to have the paperwork filled out each time."
And of course, I understand the clerk's position. She's only doing as she was told. But it was just too much for me. I told her I was not faulting her personally, but that I had my own personal policy too, and that was not to keep completing stupidly redundant paperwork over and over again just because some officious bureaucrat decided it. I told the clerk to be sure not to send me a bill, but there was a good possibility I would be sending them one myself. I have not sent a bill yet, although I still might.
At that point, I walked out, in effect firing my cardiologist.
Anyway, that's what woke me at 4:30 AM in my dream this morning and is the reason I am writing this little story. I suppose I must just be a smelly old goat living amongst a herd of sweet-smelling quiet and complacent sheep but I'm totally OK with that. I ain't all that happy with all those sheep anyway, after they helped elect this insane goddamned megalomaniacal fool we have pretending to be president these days.
And incidentally, I'm also now looking for another cardiologist.