I Keep Rescheduling Doctor Appointments and I’m Sick of Apologizing for It
I canceled another doctor’s appointment.
“I cannot get there in time and get back for work,” I said to my partner as I was writing this. “If I get stuck in traffic, or if it runs just a little bit late, I will literally mess up my job.”
Someone might look at me and say, “But does it really matter? Your job is primarily as a volunteer. You work a barter system sometimes. You work for studio space. You work for little wages.” Or whatever other discouraging naysaying thing this fictional someone might say. And that someone might be right.
The first canceled appointment was a post-op follow-up for my sort-of colon surgery, which entailed a two-hour drive to a massive university hospital known for running late. Another was a difficult digestive conversation with my GI, but since it wasn’t urgent — imminent operations take precedent — I pushed it off.
Another was dermatology, which is pretty much always laughable. (Even with a history of skin cancer in my family, I’ve rescheduled that more times than I can say, “Why can’t the best retinols be OTC?”) And the final one was for my cystic fibrosis (CF) clinic.
I should not reschedule my CF clinic, but I felt I must. It’s an hour and a half away, which is technically a small amount of time in the grand scheme of things. Many of my friends drive to different states for proper care or stay in a hotel overnight just for a visit or two. So, I am lucky in the sense that I love my clinic now (after changing to a closer one) and that my location is pretty choice. The traffic in that area, however, essentially necessitates an all-day adventure.
And since many loved ones and colleagues read these bits of writing and don’t know much about clinic concepts as a whole, let me pause to also explain that most CF checkups are an all-day affair. It is not like visiting your primary care doctor for an hour on your lunch break. It involves pulmonary function tests, blood draws, chest X-rays, social work visits, dietitian updates, nurse practitioners, specialist doctors, and even physical therapy options. But that is neither here nor there. The issue is, while juggling work responsibilities and kind bosses who’ve trusted me with their students, there are just not enough days in the week to get me from here to there.
So, what do we do? “Something has got to give,” I like to say. My partner likes to respond, “But it’s just another instance of you prioritizing profession over health.” And I can’t say I regret it. Because here’s the thing: For all four appointments that I just mentioned rescheduling while penning this piece, I managed to attend five more. In a week.
I went to my primary care (which, for the record, is not an hour-on-my-lunch-break affair either), and then to separate hospitals for three individual additionals: a chest X-ray, a CT scan, and blood draws. I went to my cardiologist to check in on my device and get surgical clearance. I went to my gastric pacemaker specialist to verify if we could get an MRI-safe version for the future, per my spinal surgeon’s request. (The answer, sadly, was no.) And a couple of others, too. And this was all before my next surgery since I won’t be driving myself around for a stretch right after it. (Turning your head, I’m told, is useful when driving a car.)
By the time you add it all up, that’s the equivalent of multiple days of full-time work, simply working to get all my appointments done. So, when does the “real work” happen?
You: “But doesn’t disability exist for those who can’t maintain a 9-to-5 for the sake of staying alive?”
Me: “I wish.”
Because at the end of the day, no Social Security income will grant enough to keep anyone alive and living well, unless they have some sort of secondary resource like a helpful family, savings, a high-paid spouse, etc. I don’t have those things, and very few do.
Something must give. Someone must choose. And sometimes I choose my commitment to others over my commitment to “myself,” because try as we might to say that ill-timed appointments, long commutes, and inefficient check-ins are worth it. I’d wager to say that it isn’t always that simple.
The healthcare system spends a lot of time wasting my time.
And I don’t have a lot of time to give.
Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.