I have a lot of appointments these days. Between follow-ups with my four active physicians (surgeon, primary doc, oncologist and plastic surgeon) and my physical therapy appointments for the damage to my right arm, I see someone at least three times a week.
The hospital I am working with is very good. They have many self-contained systems for communication between doctors and patients which have been so helpful to me for ease of connection. Instead of looking at my Google calendar, I can pretty much coordinate my life around the hospital system’s calendar of my appointments via the app on my phone.
I also get a lot of automated phone calls reminding me of all of these appointments. The calls come through as if they were from the doctors themselves, so I have to answer every single one of them in case it actually is one of my docs (if you miss a call from a doc, forget ever speaking to them again).
The best (and by best, I mean worst) of these automated calls is the one I get three separate times before a chemo day. It comes three times because chemo is actually three separate appointments, blood draw, the infusion itself and a visit with the doctor.
I would like to outline this message for you with my annotated notes on what I actually hear (in italics) vs. what is actually said (regular font).
“This is a friendly reminder from the Kellogg Cancer Center” [No discernible words just ominous music]
“You have an appointment on _____” [We are getting ready to poison the shit out of you and even though you obviously know this we are going to call you 2 more times]
“Please arrive 15 minutes early to fill out any paperwork” [As if being here for 5 hours isn’t enough, come early just to wait in the saddest lobby you’ve ever imagined for an extended period of time]
“If you need to cancel or change your appointment, please notify us 24 hours in advance” [You actually have zero choices in your life right now. You have cancer and are at the mercy of your broken body and our industrialized hospital system]
Now don’t get me wrong. I am appreciative of this high level of organization. It just makes me shake my bald head every time I hear it.
As if there was ANY chance I could forget I have chemo on Tuesday. I have planned my whole life around this fact, as have all of my family members who take time off of work to tend to me and my children for days on end. As if I could forget that I am about to feel as bad as I’ve ever felt in my life for a week? Please, (automated) girl.
Instead, here is the automated phone call I would like to receive 3 times every week:
“Hey, you beautiful bald woman! We were just thinking about you, ’cause you are our favorite patient and wanted to give you a call to let you know that we think you are a QUEEN. We know chemo sucks balls, but you are a superhero and we know you will handle it like a champ as you always do. So in the meantime, take some Ativan, ignore your kids and please, no more Grape God. PS- we all think you are so pretty, kind and funny.”