A Doctor Today

Finding a physician in a new city is not an easy task. Especially when you are married to one. As an adult, I’ve never been a person who goes to the doctor for my annual check-up but instead on an as needed basis. I’ve been fortunate in the eighteen months+ that we’ve lived in this dump important/center of the universe/think Saul Steinberg’s famous New Yorker cover city of power brokers not to have fallen ill. But when itch came to lack of sleep for a few night’s running, I was inclined to make an appointment.

One UES doc, “in private practice,” which means he or she takes payment upon service (i bill my insurance, okay, i’m used to that, no different in la but we had the good fortune of being linked to the UCLA medical center who took insurance, can see me in late June.

And before I can schedule an appointment, I’m indulged with the rules of the office road:

Count on about an hour for your first appointment
Fee for first exam $800, doesn’t include any tests or additional fees.
Everything else gets added on.
Payment (as I mentioned above) is at time of service.
They will accept all major credit cards
furnish the patient with a super bill
patient may submit it to her insurance provider.

My head is a blur as I envision yet another sleepless night filled with itching and scratching my hands and feet.

“Would you like to schedule an appointment?” asked the scheduler.

Yes, I would like to schedule an appointment. Mid-August is the next mutually convenient date. The doc isn’t available until late June at which point I will be away and then she will be away. We settle on August 18, 2008.

In the meanwhile, I need a doctor. I’m itching and scratching and the cursory google search last night delivered lupus, a circulatory ailment like raynauds as possible explanations. My doctor husband thinks these are unlikely causes. The itching began, as far as I can recall, five days ago. Onset in the evening (at sunset, not when I climb into bed), no one else in our house is itching, no rash, no bumps, hands and feet primarily but just writing about it makes me itch. We haven’t switched detergents, no new creams or meds. Clearly, I’ve thought this through.

In response to my query if there might be a possibility that the physician would extend a physician’s courtesy to my husband who is a new recruit at a major medical center in this dump city?

“It’s a function of the doctor’s very busy schedule.”

Gee, I hadn’t thought of that. This experience comes on the heels of an unpleasant experience securing pediatricians for our school aged children. No one takes insurance, that’s a given. Fortunately, we have insurance and we have credit cards. In my experience, docs in this town, for the most part, don’t take new patients. They go for the newborns. Both kids have had their checkups, are in good health, whew, and the 14 yr old even had the benefit shock of a breast exam, sans explanation. We won’t be visiting that doctor again.

so that’s part of the back story. The bottom line is I’m not mad, I’m itching.

The doctor’s office will call me later today to inform me if the doctor can see me sooner or with a reference for someone else who might.

My lips begin to quiver, eyes well with tears as I look out onto the rain drops falling from a gray sky. Mud colored, red and gray brick buildings face toward me, closing me into this concrete jungle where one of the pediatrician’s office told me, “it’s all about who you know.”

Does anyone know someone who can relieve the itching?

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