16 February 2017

Primary care, finally!!!1

Primary Care. Finally.  Actually, it was earlier this week. I'm getting caught up with posting, finally.

Clinic 1: where my intake appointment is. There's a kiosk where you're supposed to put your ID card and check in, so I do that. On screen it asks for my date of birth in big enough letters that just about anyone can see, so I try to block view of the screen. As usual, it doesn't check me in, it tells me to go to the Desk. Desk has me fill out a "means test", which if you're unfamiliar is an income/health insurance coverage disclosure form. At the Desk there is some confusion about my address, because the form asks for my address and I included my permanent one, in Wisconsin. Someone at the desk (probably a supervisor) figures this out and explains to Desk person.

(Perhaps all of the fuss I went to about getting to see a doctor here as a traveling veteran did some good.)

The clinic lobby: about fifteen chairs, none of which face the door. Five have backs to a window. I decide to stand. There is a wall mounted TV with the volume on, for no apparent reason. There is coffee, and a table of cookies and cake. The floor is wood (or wood tile), and since there's nothing to dampen sound, it's noisy-- several veterans who are waiting are talking, and the workers behind the main Desk are talking. I move several times when someone decides they want to walk or stand or whatever behind me, until I'm leaning against the corner of the wall by the door. I get increasingly triggered until RN opens the Door and calls my name.

The exam room: A medical chair, with paper. A weird self contained computer workstation. There is one of those white noise generators making noise from on the windowsill, and after a few minutes of trying to figure out WHAT THE FUCK THAT NOISE IS, I ask RN to turn it off. I explain that my blood pressure and heart rate are likely to be high from that, and from my experience in the lobby. Yup, they're both high. Pulse is 102, to give you an idea. Vitals will need to be taken again later, they are, and I've settled down a little. (Twenty minutes later, pulse has dropped by 12.)

Lots of questions, many duplicate the questions from the Vet Center intake. I've answered all of these before. I explain yet again that I'm here helping family and all of that. I also explain that it's been more than two years since my last primary care appointment, but here are the medical and mental health issues. RN mentions that I'm supposed to have lab work done and asks if I've eaten anything today; the appointment letter didn't say anything about fasting, so I didn't. The result of this is that I'll need to visit the clinic again on a day when I have fasted to do lab work (meaning a 90 minute round trip for me just to have blood drawn). Questions are asked about mental health, which I expect, and which I answer.

After about an hour of all of that, I talk to the Doctor, who asks me some of the same questions RN asked. We talk about medical stuff, go over all of the prescription drugs (medical and psych) I no longer take. There will be referrals-- to mental health, vision clinic, etc.-- but as expected not a lot actually happens. One of the things I need is a retinal scan, and for that I need to go to the nearby clinic that does that.

Clinic 2: check in works fairly quickly, clinic 1 called and let them know I was coming. Waiting area is several long rows of chairs that actually face the window/door. There's coffee, and yet another table of cake and cookies. There's yet another wall mounted TV that's on with the volume up for no apparent reason. Technician comes to get me, I get my pupils dilated, I get pictures of my eyes taken. I'll need to call the vision clinic on my own next week to get an appointment there, but I'm assured that this will happen and I'll be able to get (desperately needed) new glasses.


Overall, primary care isn't that terrible an experience once you're "into the system". The appointment was on Tuesday, on Wednesday I already had a call from a nutritionist that I'd been referred to (still waiting on mental health though).

It's an important thing, me getting back into primary care-- it means I'm doing something to take care of myself, and I'm proud of that. The past almost two years, I avoided the VA entirely. This was done with good reason, but I'm important. I'm also getting older, like it or not, and I need to keep track of things.

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