Monday, August 24, 2009

Oh Doctor, I'm in trouble

There has been a shortage of doctors in country areas for years and Cowra is no exception. My chosen GP - let's call him Dr Dave - is so busy that it takes literally months to get an appointment to see him in the usual way. The usual way is:

* ring the surgery and ask for an appointment with Dr Dave. (12 months ago there was a 6 week waiting list.) - today it is 3 months wait.
* if the ailment is serious, ask to see another doctor.
* an appointment is made, usually that day, to see one of the junior or foreign doctors. (No racial slur intended), or
* get told to come in and get your name on the "express lane" which is a list of patients who just turn up and get seen by whichever doctor(s) are rostered to take care of this. You wait as long as necessary so bring a good book. Don't get me wrong, all the doctors are qualified and competent but I prefer to see the same doctor each time if possinle as they know about my various aimlents and problems without me having to explain it all or them having to read the voluminous material about me that is on their computer.

However, for those in the know like me, there is the sneaky way:
* Dr Dave only works 3 days a week and I know which 3 days, one being Mondays.
* My neighbour across the road works part time on the reception desk, bless her, and she has filled me in on the sneaky way.
*Call Monday at 8.30am and Dr Dave has 2 appointments during the day that are saved for the first 2 patients knowledgeable in the sneaky way of doing things, to see him. Only 2 so if you are caller number 3 - bad luck to you!

(I should mention at this stage that all the senior doctors including Dr Dave, are rostered on call at the hospital regularly so if they get called away for an emergency or to deliver a baby while you are waiting for your appointment you made weeks and even months ago, you have to wait until they get back or see another doctor)

Well, yesterday a minor miracle happened. I have been suffering from terrible back and leg pain for a few weeks now and my next "usual way" appointment with Dr Dave is 12 November. Yesterday being Monday, I was on the phone promptly at 8.30am and after several tries, I got through and asked for one of Dr Dave's 2 appointments. The receptionist told me Dr Dave was on call at the hospital so was not taking any appointments. Bummer! I was disappointed but I did ask her to email him and ask him to book me in for an epidural steriod injection as he had done this for me about 18 months ago during another episode of back pain and I felt that it had it really made a difference. I then moped about the house resigned to another day or 10 of achy leg and back.

However, an hour later the phone rang and the receptionist said "Dr Dave will see you at 10.15am" - yippee - I couldn't believe it. I rocked up at 10.10am to see him and only waited 15 minutes. Almost always when you have an appointment with Dr Dave, an hour's wait at least is the norm. I get in to see him and he says "I am on call at the hospital anyway, why don't you come up there at 2pm and I will do the injection then." A-bloody-mazing! It is usually a 2 to 3 week wait for this procedure. I couldn't believe my luck.

Needless to say, 2pm I was there with bells on and had my injection. I had to stay there 3 hours until the local anaesthetic had subsided. It makes both legs and your backside numb, something like having a needle at the dentist and they won't let you get out of bed until your legs start functioning again.

Today I woke after a good sleep and feel a lot better. Now the way my luck is running, I had better go out and buy a couple of lottery tickets as I may just win and when I do win the big one, I will sponsor a program to train more doctors with the proviso that they come and work in the country. Lord knows we need more doctors as the population increases - especially the aged population which I am rapidly becoming part of.

Happy days to you all............