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Oh, Sweet Honey Iced Tea

Mittwoch, 15. Januar 2014

What We've Been Dealing with for a Month...

My daughter is sick. She's got a runny nose, an ear infection. You know: kid stuff. Only, it's been going on for a solid month. So, we've seen the doctor three times over it. She can't hear in her left ear. I'm really concerned about it.

I want to share this with you because I'm outraged at how we're being treated, and I want the world to know. I've redacted the names. Here's what I sent to the command unit:

I'm writing to discuss a complaint I have regarding the *** Health Clinic. I've already dealt with the providers, a SSG *** (who announced himself as a "sometimes" patient advocate), and LTC *** about this matter and I remain upset over the entire encounter.

Shortly before the Christmas holidays, my daughter, ***, came down with a productive cough. Since it was productive, and there was no fever, I didn't seek medical care at that time. I prefer to wait things out if possible, rather than rely on medical intervention.  Between Christmas and New Year's Day, her sinuses started to hurt. The day this started was a Saturday, so I couldn't make her an appointment. I gave her some acetaminophen and warm compresses, and that seemed to alleviate her pain. The weekend was gone, and so was her sinus pain. She still had a cough, but no fever, and the cough was productive, so I kept treating this at home.

On Sunday, January 5th, *** developed an earache in her left ear.  The next morning, I made her an appointment with CPT ***, her primary care provider.  I relayed every single detail to him that I've thus far shared with you. He examined her ear and said it was very red and her ear drum was bulging.  He said it was likely allergies, and prescribed Sudafed and Claritin. His prescription said to take 1-2 Sudafed every four hours. The pharmacist who filled her prescription said that was incorrect, that she couldn't take two because she was a child. The pharmacist noted that CPT *** is not a pediatrician, and that he often gets the dosage wrong. She corrected the dosage to one pill every four hours.

We went home and began treatment as directed by CPT ***. The next day, Tuesday, ***'s ear leaked some clear fluid, and the pain went away almost immediately. I thought that was great! She was feeling better! Her nose was still running so very much. I've never seen, in my fifteen years of parenting, so much snot come out of a kid in one cold. She would fill six to eight tissues -- fill, mind you, not just a little blow -- every time she blew her nose, and she was going through an entire box every day.

We called back on Thursday because ***'s ear was buzzing constantly and she was getting very dizzy and off-balance. She was also mumbling and having a hard time hearing in her left ear. She described it as hearing like she's holding her hand over her ear.  I, myself, have ear problems (Meniere's Disease), so I know that inner ear issues can cause balance issues. CPT *** wasn't in, and there were no appointments. I was advised to take *** to the emergency room, but I feel that E.R. visits should be used in emergencies, not backup plans because your health clinic doesn't have enough appointment slots. We kept *** pretty still through the weekend, offering Sudafed and Tylenol, lots of liquids, and plenty of rest. She was still blowing her nose all day long, and the mucous had turned from just a thick colorless to a yellow-green color, getting darker green the longer she blew.

Monday morning, I called the *** clinic again to see CPT ***. This would be our second visit to see him. I told him that the Sudafed wasn't helping dry her out, and neither was the Claritin. I questioned the allergy diagnosis, and again relayed everything I've relayed here. He tried to replicate her dizziness by having her lay down quickly and turn her head, but she wasn't getting dizzy in front of him, so he dismissed it. It really felt like he wasn't listening to me, and wasn't valuing what I was seeing at home. What a doctor sees in the five minutes he spends with a patient does not sum up what's going on with a patient. CPT *** looked in ***'s ear again and said it was still red and bulging, but the clear liquid probably meant her eardrum had ruptured. He told me that was the preferred way to deal with an ear infection, to have it rupture.  I thought that was weird.  He wasn't concerned with the hearing issue or the dizziness. He gave us a prescription for Zyrtec and some ear drops, and told us to call back in ten MORE days if her symptoms were still present.  That would mean *** would have been sick for over a month.

The next day (yesterday), I decided it would be prudent to see a different doctor to seek a new opinion on the hearing and dizziness. I was worried for permanent damage. I called the ***  Health Clinic and asked to see a different provider. The front desk told me they weren't authorized to get us an appointment with a different provider. So, I asked if there was a patient advocate on staff. I was transferred to SSG ***. I asked him if he was the patient advocate. He answered that he sometimes filled in for the patient advocate and asked how he could help me. I told him everything that happened, and told him I'd just like to see a different provider. He told me he's speak with the medical director, and that either the medical director or he would call me back. Within a few minutes, SSG *** called me back and said that the medical director said there were inconsistencies in my story and that the best they could do is tell me I was welcome to seek a second opinion. That's what I wanted anyway, so I asked how to do that. SSG *** said the front desk knew what was going on and they were told to let me make a second appointment. He told me he was unable to transfer he back to them, so I called the front desk and was able to make an appointment with a CPT *** the same day.

We hurried in to see CPT ***. AGAIN, I relayed every single detail of ***'s entire illness from mid-December through the present time. CPT *** approached *** and asked her to look into her light. *** asked why, and CPT *** abruptly said, "because I said so, because it's part of my exam." This was worrisome. He seemed angry we were there, and I immediately got the feeling that I'd angered the good ol' boys' club by seeking a second opinion. He quickly examined *** and sat down. He offered all sorts of treatment: antibiotics, ear drops, and other medications. Everything he offered, I asked about. *** has one kidney, and a history of problems associated with it, and I don't like to throw medicine at her unless it's going to help. Finally, CPT *** threw up his arms and asked me what I wanted them to do. He said to just tell him what it was I wanted because "we can't have you keep coming in here for the same problem." I felt myself flush. I was being scolded for seeking medical treatment for my daughter's hearing loss. WHO DOES THAT? CPT *** does. I told him that what I want is answers about why my daughter can't hear, and what we can do about it. He said, fine, let's just put in a referral for ENT. He told me I'd get a referral in my email in seven to ten days (so he wasn't even willing to call it an urgent referral -- to me, hearing loss is urgent). Then he left the room.
CPT *** treated us badly. There's no other way to look at it. He was angry that we were there for a second opinion and he made that crystal clear. I've never been treated this way at the *** Health Clinic before.
I started to drive away, but turned back around because how we were treated was completely unacceptable. I went to the front desk and asked who the OIC was, and if I could speak to them. I was sent back to see LTC ***.
LTC *** was very friendly. However, he defended CPT ***'s behavior as "just his style". He also said that "you wives can be difficult,, never mind, I'm not going to group you together. It's irrelevant." He also told me that this was why "65% of marriages end in divorce" and told me that unless ***'s mucous was white, it was normal. I left feeling less angry, because of the passage of time and LTC's pleasant demeanor, but I don't like those comments he made. He may be friendly, but he's quite unprofessional one-on-one.
Here we are,  five days short of a month since my daughter got sick. She still has dizziness, balance issues, and buzzing in her ear, and we've got to get her more tissues today. She still has poor hearing. And we still have no answers, and now I have poor opinions of two officers. CPT *** is wonderful -- I only sought a second opinion because I disagreed with one assessment. And it's my right to seek that second opinion without retribution. I certainly feel like CPT *** was angry about my seeking a second opinion. I do not appreciate the way CPT *** treated my child and me, and I do not appreciate the comments made by the commander of the health clinic.

Here's what I'd like to see happen: I would like to be transferred to the pediatrician at *** for ***'s needs for the remainder of our time in Bavaria. I no longer feel like I can trust the providers at ***. I know that seeing the *** pediatrician is a possibility, because a friend of mine has done it already. I'd also like to see ***'s referral made a priority. I'd like it to occur off post, or at another facility, not at ***. I am happy to discuss this further, though I am certainly growing weary of telling the same story, with NO inconsistencies, so many times. I will not tolerate such treatment from any provider, and nor should you.