Hi. Remember me? I’m sure you don’t. I called a few weeks ago about the Breast MRI that you guys refused to pay for? I’m sorry, that’s probably not specific enough. I bet you decline so many claims they all start to run together after a while.
It doesn’t really matter, I just wanted to let you know how it went. I’m a big fan of giving feedback.
First of all, I think its important that you understand that every medical person I’ve interacted with thinks you suck. (I know you personally didn’t decline the order for an MRI, you just read me the notes in my file. But you’ve heard of shooting the messenger? Yeah, well that’s what’s happening here. I’m pissed off and its much more satisfying to be pissed at person than a faceless company.) I’m sure you understand, right, Nurse Val? Can I call you Val? I feel like we can use nicknames since you claim to know so much about my boobs and what I should do with them.
So anyway, pretty much everyone thinks you were really stupid for refusing the MRI. And mean. Well, I guess I’m probably the only who actually used the word “mean”, since I’m the one who had to have the stereotactic biopsy. You know, the one you so calmly identified as a reasonable alternative to the MRI? Remember?
As I was laying on my stomach on that hard table, with my boob so inelegantly stuffed through a hole, my body contorted unnaturally to support the effort, I wondered if you’d ever had a procedure like this, or even seen one done, and I came to the conclusion that you had not. Because if you had, if you had any grasp of how humiliating it felt to be raised up on a table so the doctors and nurses could work under me – not unlike a car at a mechanic’s; if you knew about the pain and dehumanization that results from having a nurse sit under you and pull at your breast like she was milking a cow because the lump is so close to your chest wall that she needs every inch of tissue to get it in the target of the mammogram rays; if you had any idea of how, after being squished in a mammogram for 30 minutes while they stuck needles in you, it would hurt to even breath for the next 12 hours, if you had any idea at all about any of that, you would at least have had the decency to sound human when you told me that was my only option. Instead you sounded like a condescending corporate drone scolding a child who was trying to take a short cut around something obvious and easy.
But let’s get back to how everyone thinks you suck. So first, there was my surgeon, who as you can tell by her title is smarter than you and more qualified to make health care related decisions than you. When I told her what you’d said about the MRI, she rolled her eyes, and said among other things, “Are. You. Kidding me? That’s absurd. She’s an idiot.” (Ok, she said “they’re idiots” because she didn’t know about you, but I know she meant you.) I’m not sorry to say, I readily agreed. We brainstormed a few ideas for trying to change your mind, but ultimately decided I could very well die of a cancer I didn’t yet have faster than we could convince you to change your mind.
Next was Nurse Annie at the radiology center who assisted during my stereotactic biopsy. The one who held my hand and rubbed my back while the first needles were inserted so that I wouldn’t flinch at the burning sensation of the numbing agent and mess up the alignment of the biopsy needle. The one who reminded me of my mom in her build and the way her hand felt in mine. As I was waiting for my incision to clot, she asked what the results of my MRI had been. When I explained about your refusal, she started to call you some choice names before she caught herself. Then she too rolled her eyes and said “It is so asinine that they develop these technologies that are better and quicker and easier to use, but then won’t let us have access to them. How does that make sense?” I didn’t have an answer for her Nurse Val, do you? Now, I know, she’s a nurse, you’re a nurse, so it seems like her opinion doesn’t out weigh yours in the same way the surgeon’s does. But I think she’s a much smarter and better nurse than you are Val, I mean look at the facts: she assists doctors in a radiology department of a breast diagnostic center. You sit in an office somewhere, answering phones, doing an insurance company’s bidding. I mean, you see what I’m saying, right Val?
I have hope that as years go by, MRI technology will be refined and made cheaper so that it can be more accessible. I also have hope that some day, insurance companies will consider the invasiveness and physical toll of a procedure along with the bottom line. I’m not holding my breath, but a girl can hope.
I want to tell you that I hope one day you get to experience what I’m going through – the indignities, pain, and fear that accompany all the tests and all the waiting (waiting that was extended because of you). But I’d be lying if I said that. It’s too awful a thing to wish on any woman, even you, Nurse Val. So you just keep sitting there in your nice office building, playing ruler of the world, secure in the knowledge that you’ll never have to be the one holding the hand of a scared and suffering young woman, or that you won’t ever have to look into the eyes of a woman as she climbs down from a procedure table, her whole body sore, her spirit dampened, knowing that there was another option.
I know this little missive isn’t going to create any major changes. I’m not that naive. I have only one hope for this feedback, Nurse Val. I’m asking, woman to woman, that next time you have to tell a woman she has to have a stereotactic biopsy, try to sound a little sympathetic. Or at least human. Or at the very least not condescending. If you can manage it.
Case number 732-78-641 (aka Meredith)