Tuesday, November 12, 2013

To Complain.. Or Not?

Last Thursday, I had an appointment with my oncologist. It was the "off" week for my 4th cycle of Xeloda. The beginning of the week was a little painful for my feet and hands, but it did get better. I even got painful spots on the tip of my tongue!

Anyways, Dr. K told me that my CT scan had gone well. The spots on my liver have continued to respond well to the Xeloda. Some spots have gotten so small that they don't appear on the CT. Others have shrunk significantly (one shrunk from 18mm to 11mm). Dr. K said that she would like to try 3 more cycles of the Xeloda and then take another CT. If the spots on my liver continue to shrink, she would like to switch to two combined hormone drugs. I guess the Letrozole (Femara) that I had been on will not work for my body any longer.

Now, I have to write about what happened in the lab. Every time I go to my oncologist, I have to get blood drawn first. It is usually four vials of blood for all the different tests that have to be taken. Then, I go upstairs to see my oncologist who evaluates the results.

This time, like the last, was not that pleasant. I had the same woman I had last month. Last month, after she called my name to get my blood drawn, her and another worker started speaking in an Eastern European language (I won't mention which one). I heard the other woman say, "Monica," and then they both started to laugh and talk. I thought that they might have had another patient with my name? Didn't want to get upset.

We got to the room where she was going to draw my blood, and she was "no smiles." She didn't say much, drew 2 vials of blood, and I left. I thought it weird that Dr. K had only ordered two vials, but I let it go. Well, the tech had made a mistake, and I had to go back down and get two more vials drawn. I didn't complain. People can make mistakes.

Okay, now to last Thursday. I had the same person, which isn't really common. Anyways, they were supposed to have another order from my endocrinologist, who wanted to see if he needed to reduce/increase my thyroid medication. The tech couldn't find it. She looked in the files and on the computer. I tried calling the endocrinologist with my cell phone, but the phone call wouldn't go through (that happens in certain parts of the hospital).

The only thing I could do was ask the tech to call the office. The office said they would send the order again. We waited, but it wasn't showing up.  The tech wasn't too happy. I was pressed for time and told her to just draw for my oncologist, because I had a 9:00 am appointment and it was 8:55 am. I told the tech that I would come back. She drew an extra vial of blood saying that she knew what the endocrinologist would ask for. This way she wouldn't have to draw my blood again.

I made sure she drew four vials of blood and quickly rushed to my oncologist's office which was in the same building. As I went to Dr. K's, my arm felt a little wet, but I thought I was imagining things. Anyways, I quickly forgot, because I was in a rush to get upstairs.

After my appointment, I went back to the lab. I asked for that particular tech, and she told me that they couldn't draw up the order on their computer. So… she told me that I had to walk down to another area to get my order. This was weird because she was sending me to the scanning area desk to get my order? Are you following me. Well, I didn't complain and went down to get it. They did find it, and they asked me why I had come down to their area. I told them that the tech had said that she couldn't get it, and the woman behind the desk remarked, "They can."

I'm a little slow in reacting to some of these situations. Can you tell? I figure that people can make mistakes, and that I need to be patient in these situations.

Well, I got to the lab again and the tech said she had found my order. She gave me a "lecture" on how it wasn't her fault. She said that my oncologist's office sends orders under my first and last name. The endocrinologist's office sent orders under my first, middle, and last name. Ok, I was a bit stunned. I just said that I would contact the endocrinologist's office and have that changed. She kept on complaining. Can it be that hard? But, once again, I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

That day, I had two sweaters on - one being a cardigan. When I lifted my sleeve to get blood drawn, again, the gauze pad was soaked with blood. There were even marks on my arm from the dried blood that had run down my arm. Still, I did not complain. The tech scolded me about how I should have pressed firmly on the area where she had drawn blood. Other techs always mention that, but this tech (I remember) never mentioned it. But, I wasn't about to complain to someone who was about to stick a needle into my arm.

She drew blood (two more vials because I don't know what she did with the other one), and then, I had to go to another building to get my monthly Xgeva shot. I lifted up the sleeve on my left arm to get the shot, because I can only get shots/blood drawn on my non-mastectomy arm. The majority of the times, I lift up my shirt/sweater sleeve and never look. I don't like watching them stick my arm with needles.

When I got home, I wanted to change my clothes because I wanted to sleep. I needed to sleep, and I had felt a little faint. I was exhausted. To my shock, I took off my dark cardigan and found that I had a huge spot of dried blood on my gray "inside" sweater. The cardigan was also stained, but you couldn't tell as much because of the dark color. That wetness that I had felt was now explained.

For the next 40 minutes, I spent time trying to get the blood stains out of my dry clean only sweaters. (I will share the trick I learned tomorrow.)

I also wanted to get a better look at the wound, so I got a bandaid to switch out the gauze strip (from the second blood withdrawal). That is when I saw that I didn't have two poke holes but a cut in my arm. I am clueless as to what she did.

(The gauze from the second blood withdrawal.)

My husband came home for lunch, and I told him what had happened. That is when it finally clicked in me that what had happened wasn't right. To my surprise, my husband got really mad. Mad because I had been treated like that. Mad because they should have taken good care of my left arm, because it is the only side that I can get blood drawn from, IVs hooked up, or shots given to.

He encouraged me to call and file a complaint. I don't like causing waves. I don't like making scenes, but this time went too far. I called the office and left a message. A worker, whose voice I recognized, answered and asked what the problem was. I asked for the supervisor, but he said that I could tell him. I'm slow. I should have insisted for the supervisor. I thought that he might be the head tech there? I talked to him, and he told me this: "We don't want to get anyone in trouble. When you come in next time, just request someone else. No need to hurt anyone's feelings." That is when I said that I would really like to speak to the supervisor, and that is when he gave me her phone number.

I did talk to the supervisor. I was very polite and did not raise my voice. I did tell her all that had happened, and she was very responsive. She apologized and offered to have my sweater dry cleaned. I told her that that was not what I was calling for.

The bottom line for me: I go to that lab every 3 weeks. I don't need the stress of having that tech draw my blood again or of even having to see that tech. I told the supervisor that I did not want to have that tech draw my blood again. She did give me the name of another tech to request and told me that this issue would be addressed. I also sent her pictures of my sweater and arm.

Did I tell you that A3 was with me the whole time this occurred? 

I'm still learning about when to speak up for myself. I second guess myself. A lot. I'm slow to pick up on these things. You would think that I would have learned by now. I can speak up for others, but why is it so hard for me to pick up on these things? Ugh.

Pray that God would give me wisdom (quickly) in these types of situations.

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