I finally decided to write up the sequel to Part I
and Part III.
This happened about a year and a half ago. It was at the same clinic that I was at for Part II and part of it involves the same doctor I had seen previously, Dr. G.
I had to make an appointment to have a pelvic exam/pap smear so I could get a refill on my birth control pills. I had my reservations about going back to the same clinic, but I was dealing with a completely different department and I didn't know anyone else, so I decided to just go back to Dr. G. How much could you screw up a pelvic exam, after all?
A lot, apparently.
First thing that was a little odd to me was that they never sent me a reminder card or anything to come in for a pelvic exam. I had been to their clinic the year before to have my annual "well woman's" exam done so they had me on file. At other practices, I have always received a card or phone call about 10-11 months after a pelvic exam, reminding me to come in for another one soon. No such reminder at this clinic.
I had been having pelvic exams done right after Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November, for those outside the U.S.) for a number of years, ever since my first exam and when I first went on the pill. At my old clinic, before I moved to Texas, the nurse practitioner I saw was always booked weeks and sometimes month in advance, so I would usually call at least two months ahead to make sure I could get an appointment around the time I wanted.
At Dr. G's clinic, they would only schedule appointments 2 weeks out. I knew this, and so didn't bother to call too far in advance to see if I could get an appointment. The Monday before Turkey Day, I called asking for an appointment. They were booked solid for the next two weeks. The receptionist I talked to said that I should try calling the following Monday, since they would be closed Weds-Fri this week.
So I called back on the Monday after Turkey Day. Still booked. The receptionist I talked to then said that they start taking new appointments on Wednesday so I should call back then.
So I called back on Wednesday. The woman I talked to then said they wouldn't be taking any new appointments for the next available week until Monday, so I should call back then.
So I call back on Monday. The woman I talked to said I was too late, that all the available slots for the next available week had been booked on Wednesday and I should have called then if I wanted to get in. I told her I did and that the woman I talked to told me I had to try again on Monday. She said I should try again on Wednesday.
By this point any appointment I would be getting would be into Christmas/New Year's week so I decided to wait and try and get something after Christmas. I was able to get an appointment for early January.
One thing that is hard about making doctor appointments for me is that my husband and I only have one vehicle and he uses it to go to work, and every clinic in existence only makes appointments from 8-5 Mon-Fri, which is exactly when he works. So we have to do some schedule finagling when I have a dr. appointment. Usually he takes the morning off or works late so he can drive me to the clinic, and I try to get as early an appointment as possible.
So we get to the clinic on the day of the appointment. I think my appointment was supposed to be around 8:30 or 9am. Of course there is a wait. This is expected. It wasn't too bad, I think they called me back around 10 minutes after we got there and I waited in the exam room for another 10 or 15 minutes. After getting to the exam room, the nurse asked me to change into the hospital gown, and I sat there freezing until the dr. came in; I get cold very easily, and even in central Texas, January is cold.
So the dr. comes in and begins the exam. Her hands are like ICE. She doesn't heat any of the equipment up; when I ask her if she can heat the speculum up, she runs it under water for about 3 seconds (no clue what the temperature of the water was, but the speculum was no warmer than her hands.)
It was over quickly at least, and I started to get dressed. That's when I noticed the giant dead cockroach in the corner of the room.
Disgusted and annoyed, I left as quickly as possible, grabbing my script for my birth control pills on the way out. I had talked to Dr. G about changing my RX to something that would allow me to only have 4 periods a year, because I get migraines while I'm menstruating. She said no problem, she'd write me a script for something but to be warned that I would have a lot of side effects for the first couple of weeks/months since I would be changing hormones. Fine, whatever.
So we drop my script off on the way home and my husband goes to work. On his way home that night, he picks the new BC up. I hadn't even bothered to look at what it was before we dropped it off, but I was confused when I opened the actual medication: It was three packs of a 21/7 day BC. In other words, it was like a standard BC pill that you take for 3 weeks, then you take a placebo pill for 1 week and get your period. There were no special instructions on it indicating that I should take it otherwise.
I was irritated, because I was already on a pill like this, and if I wanted to continue having periods every month, I would just continue taking the pill I'd been taking. She knew I wanted less periods so why did she prescribe this?
The next day, I called the clinic and explained my dilemma. I talked to one of Dr. G's nurses ("Jamie") and explained everything to her and that I was confused as to why Dr. G gave me this pill and not what I had asked for. I asked her to have Dr. G call me back directly so I could talk to her about this. Jamie agreed and said I should hear back by the end of the day.
Well, I did get a call at the end of the day, but it was from Jamie, not Dr. G (when I had specifically asked Dr. G to call me herself.) Jamie said she talked to Dr. G and she had said that I should take the active pills continually for 3 months and skip the inactive pills until the end of the 3rd month. I had kind of suspected this is what she wanted, except 1) there were no instructions on the script indicating this and 2) 3 packs of 21 active pills does not equal 3 months. It barely equals 2 months. I told Jamie I would need another pack to get me through 3 months. She hmmed and hawed a bit and then said, "Oh, it looks like you're supposed to take the pills for three months, then go off of them for two months, then come back in so we can do some tests."
...wat. Dr. G never indicated ANYTHING like that during my appointment. Go off the pills for 2 months? What the hell, NO, I am sexually active and this is my main source of birth control, I am not going to go off of it for 2 months.
At this point I was frustrated with Jamie and told her that I wanted to talk to Dr. G about this because it didn't make any sense at all. I told her I was not going off the pills for 2 months and that I would need 4 packs to get me through 3 months anyway. And for that matter, if I was just going to be taking a standard 21/7 pill and skipping the placebos, why couldn't I do that with the pill I was already on (and had been on for several years?) Jamie agreed to check with the doctor again and call me back tomorrow.
I'm pretty sure she never called me back. I don't remember talking to her, or Dr. G, after this point. I believe I was planning on waiting until someone called me with the results of the pap smear and talking to them about it then.
Well, about 3 weeks went by, and no phone call with the results of my pap smear, so I ended up calling them. The receptionist I talked to hmmed and hawed for a while before finally saying, "This is very strange, something isn't right, let me have them call you back about this."
Great, that's exactly what I wanted to hear.
Later that day or the next, I got a call from a supervisor at the clinic. Guess what, they lost my pap smear sample and I needed to come back so they could take another one.
I LOST IT with that woman. I screamed at her about all of the things that had happened, including Dr. G's icy fingers, the dead roach in the room, and Jamie's utter ineptitude. I was crying on the phone and the supervisor was at least sympathetic with me. She agreed that a lot of mistakes had been made and that she would look into the issue with the BC script; she herself had been a nurse practitioner (I think) who did well woman's exams before becoming a supervisor, so there was no reason why I couldn't continue taking the pill I had been on and skip the placebo pills so I would only get 4 periods a year. She said the insurance company would cover it as long as the instructions were written properly and she had done it before so she could do it again...
...but not until I get my pap smear done, which they would redo for free since they lost it.
Hell no, I said. I am not coming back to your clinic after the major screw-ups I have seen.
I found another clinic that was actually open on Saturdays, so made an appointment and went in to get this all over with.
...except they don't do pap smears on Saturdays. WTF. Come back during the week, they said.
I was about at my wit's end at this point, when I got a call back from the supervisor of the first clinic again. Hey, good news! They found my pap smear sample and had sent it off to the lab to get tested, so I wouldn't need to come in for another pap smear! Hooray!
...except when they got the results back, there weren't enough cells to actually test. So I still needed to go in for another pap smear.
Wit's end. Really. I decided to bite the bullet and go back to Dr. G's clinic, but I told them I didn't want to see her (it wasn't really "her" clinic, there were tons of doctors working there.) They set me up with a nurse practitioner at 8am one morning and promised me it would be quick, easy, and I'd be in and out in no time.
So we get there a little before 8 and they take me back almost right away. Good start. Angel, the nurse's assistant, took my blood pressure, pulse, etc. then set me up in an exam room. Handed me a gown, told me to put it on, and sit on the exam table. The NP would be in shortly.
So I get undressed, put the gown on, sit on the table, and wait. And wait. And wait.
At 8:50, I finally got dressed, left the room, and found someone to demand what the hell was going on. The person I asked took me to an office where Angel was sitting, playing solitaire on a computer. I demanded to know where the NP was.
"Oh, she had a personal emergency this morning and isn't here yet. She should be on her way soon."
"... She isn't even in the building, and wasn't when I came in?"
"... And she isn't even on her way yet?"
"No, she should be here around 9:30 so."
All of this said in a very non-chalant, "why is this a big deal, you are interrupting my solitaire game" kind of tone.
I LOST IT. Again. I literally screamed (incomprehensibly) at this girl, ran out to the waiting room where my husband was, grabbed his hand and dragged him out the clinic, screaming at the top of my lungs, "I AM LEAVING AND I AM NEVER COMING BACK TO THIS GOD FORSAKEN PIECE OF SHIT CLINIC!"
I was in tears the entire way home. My phone rang several times but I didn't bother to answer it. I called my mom and bawled to her for about an hour (she knew the entire story up to this point and was utterly speechless at this latest development.)
Finally after talking to my mom, I checked my voice mail. I had at least a couple, one from the supervisor who I had talked to a few times, and one from a woman named Lauren, who was the director of the part of the clinic I had been visiting. She was apologizing up and down and telling me she was aware of my case from the supervisor and had been planning on meeting with me that morning, but "we must have just missed each other." Well, I was there for nearly an hour...
Anyway, in the end, she offered to pay for a cab to bring me to and from the clinic that same afternoon to have the pap done right away. I accepted, only because I wanted this done with once and for all. That visit was very pleasant; I met Lauren, who was fine, and the supervisor I had been talking to literally met me at the door when I arrived and saw me out when I was done, and didn't let me out of her sight the entire time I was there, including when I had the pap done. The results came back perfectly normal and I finally got the script I had been asking for repeatedly.
I will never, ever go back to that clinic. Ever. I went to Planned Parenthood to get my BC refill this year.