Nerd-tastic (mela_chan) wrote in bad_service,

My Student Health-Services Experience

So, jumping on the bandwagon (and because someone wanted to know more about this...).

Well, a little background. I'm divorced, with a five year old daughter. Last summer, I was single, had not been sexually active since my husband and I separated the previous May (so, 25 months), and had been having lower abdominal pain. The pain started as a slight twinge in my left side, and progressed over the course of a week or so to unbearable. If I did anything other than lie on my right side, I was almost nearly in tears. As the pain got worse, my breasts got sore, I started having to pee every hour on the hour, and I was sleeping a lot more than normal. I called my gynecologist for an appointment, but his office couldn't fit me in for twelve days. I took an appointment, but the next day the pain was so bad I was in tears even laying down. This is unusual for me; I've had horrific cramps with my period since my first one, and I deal really well with pain.

I'd done some research online and thumbing through some of my mom's old medical textbooks (she's a nurse), and I was pretty well convinced that I had an ovarian cyst.

I finally gave up on dealing with the pain and called my school's health clinic (my regular doctor was also unavailable). I got an appointment with their gynecologist for that morning, at 11:00. I have my daughter, my mom was at work, and both of my brother's were also working, so I had to take her with me. I show up for my appointment, they make me fill out some forms, and then they take me back to see the gyno. A lady comes in, introduces herself as 'Susan' (first name only, no title or anything), and she is going to do my exam. She starts asking me questions about my symptoms, which I answer truthfully.

She then tells me she thinks I might be pregnant. Say it with me...I haven't had sex in TWO YEARS. Which I tell her. Her response to my repeated insistence that it would be a miracle for me to be pregnant? Well, you're a college student, I'm sure you party. You don't need to lie about your sex life. And other such platitudes. I insist I'm not pregnant, she insists I need a pregnancy test. In fact, she implies that if I do not take the pregnancy test, she cannot treat me and my diagnosis will be 'pregnant'. So I take a pregnancy test.

I have to go to another section of the clinic, in my paper exam gown and a nurse's cover up (for non-contact patients). After sticking me four times, the nurse sticks the needle in and digs around until she gets a vein. It hurt like hell and bruised almost immediately. Pregnancy test is processing, she sends me in my little paper gown back to the exam room (note that I have to walk across a public lobby in the damn gown and a very thin robe that doesn't tie shut). I wait for thirty minutes. The nurse comes back in and tells me that I am, in fact, NOT pregnant. NO SHIT. Thank you captain obvious.

So, Susan then decides she will in fact do a vaginal exam. She suggests that my four year old wait outside. Yes, my four year old should go wait OUTSIDE by HERSELF. I tell her no, Tori is staying with me. She is snippy about it, but is like 'whatever, it's your kid you're traumatizing.' My daughter has gone to my gynecologist with me before; it's not like this was some horrific thing for her to see. Better to take her with me and have her think this is normal for a woman than have her scared to go see a gynecologist.

Anyway, the lady does the vaginal exam. She spends a lot of time with her finger in me, feeling around. She is pressing spots, asking me if it hurts, what is the level of pain, etc. Every time she touches the left side of my vagina, it hurts. Badly. So then she does the same thing on the outside. Same results, except much much higher pain level.

She then starts pressing on my abdomen again. She decides that I do not have an ovarian cyst because there is 'no swelling in my belly'. She then tries to say I have appendicitis. I tell her no, appendicitis presents in the RIGHT side of the body, and much higher up. Not the lower left. So she sticks her finger back in me, and feels around some more, pushing on both the inside and the outside. She starts on the right, which does not hurt. When she starts pushing on the left side, I start crying. Me crying freaks my daughter out, and she starts fussing and trying to comfort me.

Susan has now decided I am not pregnant, I do not have appendicitis...I am simply constipated. <.<; Er...but I had a bowel movement last night. She tells me that my colon is full (so?) and that I'm constipated, and she'll write me a scrip for some pain meds. Before she can do that, though, she needs to clear it - with her supervising DOCTOR. Wait, you're not a doctor? Nope, she's a nurse practitioner. Who apparently likes to NOT tell her patients that.

So Susan goes to call the doctor. At this point, it is 12:30. I take Tori (who is thirsty and hungry) downstairs to hit the vending machines. I can barely stand up, and I am in huge amounts of pain from both the cyst and the vaginal exam. I get Tori some food and we sneak back to the exam room with sodas and Oreos and chips. At 1:00, Susan comes in and tells me the supervising doctor thinks it would be a good idea for me to have an ultrasound. Really?! That's great. They're going to send me to the hospital to have the ultrasound done. I say, why don't you call my REAL gynecologist, who happens to be a partner in a group that is the proud owner of one ultrasound machine, and give me an emergency referral for an ultrasound. She tells me she has to check to see if they can do that. At 1:30, she returns with the information that they can in fact do that, and I have an appointment with the ultrasound tech at 2:10. Great.

I call a friend to see if she can watch Tori for an hour while I go have an ultrasound. Yes, she can, but she's on the other side of town. So I run across town, drop Tori off, and head for my ultrasound appointment. My doctor's regular nurse (each gyno in the group has their own nurse) checks me in. She comments on how my belly looks swollen, even though I've actually lost weight since my last visit. She takes me back to see the ultrasound tech. They have to use a vaginal probe to look at my ovaries, and I am once again in tears. I have a 6-8 cm cyst attached to my left ovary. The tech takes some pictures, then sends me back to see my gyno.

My gynecologist is concerned because there are some solid bits in my cyst, which can apparently be very bad and indicate various things, including cancer. Since I'd had a series of abnormal paps, he recommends that we take the cyst out immediately, and I agree. He schedules surgery for 5 pm that night. I call my mom, the friend watching my daughter, and my work, then head straight for the hospital to check in. They get me admitted, etc., and surgery goes well. I'm ashamed to admit that the first thing I remember, coming out of anesthesia, is that a nurse asked me a question and I was shamefully rude to her. But they gave me morphine and made it all better. <.<; Apparently, though, no one bothered to tell my mom that I was out of surgery. After two hours, Mom is getting worried and goes looking for me. She discovers that I am not dead, and am in a room while I wake up. The nurses were very apologetic, and they have a scrip for lots of good drugs for while I recover.

Fast forward a month, when I get a bill from student health services for $75. $25 for the appointment and $50 for the pregnancy test. I called their billing office, explain how I did not want the test, did not need it, was called a liar by the nurse pretending to be a doctor, spent two hours at their facility while said nurse was trying to decide if I was constipated, pregnant or had appendicitis, and how I was not paying for the test. I also ask to speak with their QA person. I got hung up on. So...I wrote a letter. I also included a letter to the editor for the school paper. I mention that I will be submitting the letter not for the next edition of the paper (published weekly over the summer, and daily during the school year), but for the first edition of the fall semester (historically the most read issue of the year). I never got a call, and as far as I know Susan is still working at the health clinic. But the $50 charge was dropped from my bill the next day.
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