you couldn’t make this shit up

I’d really love to put the whole Attack of the Killer Gallbladder thing behind me, really I would. Sadly, I have to deal with the pesky stent that took up residence in my common bile duct during that pre-surgery procedure in early April.

That puppy has a best-before date. Three months from date of insertion, to be exact. That means early July or bust.

Knowing the cluster-fuck gross inefficiency that is my local healthcare system, I called my G.I. specialist’s office the day after my surgery to try to secure a date for the stent removal.

Several voicemails later, I received word that I had been booked in on June 9th.

The unfortunate thing is, June 9th is also the date of son’s girlfriend’s university convocation ceremony.

Since I have, for all intents and purposes, adopted her as one of my own, trust me when I say that nothing will prevent me from celebrating this lovely girl in her cap and gown on that day. Nothing.

I called the G.I. specialist’s office yesterday, where I had the opportunity to speak to his ultra-bitchy receptionist (UBR).

Picture Shows: David Walliams as Carol Beer. 'Computer Says No' sketch.  Photographer: Mike Hogan / bbc

Little Britain’s Carol Beer: ‘Computer Says No’

Here is a transcript of the ensuing conversation:

me: Hi, I received a voicemail from you indicating that you’ve booked me in for an ERCP on June 9th. 

UBR: Yes, that’s correct. 

me: Unfortunately, I cannot make it that day. 

UBR: Well, we are booked solid for a few months, so it has to be that day. 

me: Yeah, no. I cannot do it that day. So, what are my options? 

UBR: [shuffling pages – presumably in a paper calendar] We are looking at September. 

me: Yeah, no. Dr. P told me this has to come out before July. 

UBR: Well there is nothing available.

me: But it HAS TO COME OUT before July. 

UBR: There are no openings. 

me: Well, what do you suggest we do then? 

UBR: There isn’t really anything we can do. This is a very specialized procedure and Dr. P can only do it when he’s on call. 

me: Yeah, so… what are my options? 

UBR: Well, you’re not an emergency, so we will just have to wait for a cancellation. 


me: Yeah, so, I’m not super comfortable with that, since this HAS TO COME OUT before July. 


[Picking myself up off the floor]

<editor’s note: Clearly this woman has no idea who she’s messing with. Now that I’m no longer distracted by blinding pain, I’m not shy about showing my claws.>


[pregnant pause to allow her to fully absorb my tone]

me: Do YOU understand ME? I’m an executive with a large software company. I travel frequently. I’m not sitting around at home waiting for your call. I could be in Timbuktu, for God’s sake, when you decide to call me with a cancellation. SO… WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST WE DO, SINCE THIS THING HAS TO COME OUT BEFORE JULY? 

UBR: [Her aggression scaled back considerably.] Well… you will become an emergency in a couple of weeks, so we can then look to prioritize you. 

me: Can I just get another G.I. specialist to do it? 

UBR: Well, you could if you get a referral. 


my outside voice: You know what, just let me know when you figure something out. [click]


I’m seeing both my surgeon and my family doctor next week, and I’ll ask one of them (heck, maybe even both of them) for a referral to another G.I. doc.

I am SO over it all. So over it. Done. Like dinner.

And the worst part is, I’m not cleared for heavy exercise yet, so I can’t even channel my frustration that way. Universe: please go pick on someone your own size.

Keep moving,

xoxo nancy

***UPDATE*** I’m stoked to report that the universe must have heard me and taken pity. I got a phone call from UBR at 10:00 am, advising me that I’ve been booked in at 6:30 am on June 10th. HUZZAH!

93 thoughts on “you couldn’t make this shit up

  1. That’s the difference between you and me, NT ~ I would have grabbed that scheduled date as a life line (i.e., a social acceptable excuse to skip watching all the little ants marching at convocation).

    Then, days later, I would have taken son’s girlfriend out for the adult beverage(s) of her choice. 😛

    Good luck!

  2. My *like* here is really a big warm hug – it appears you need one. I have to agree with nrhatch. I’m the kind of person who would have grabbed the date offered and then asked to be put on a stand-by list for a cancellation hoping the planets align.

  3. Remind me to never get sick. Insurance and the health care system seems to be a major cluster f*ck whether in Canada or the U.S. Hope you’re feeling better even with that thing still stuck in you. And what a special soul you are to make sure you are their for the young gals momentous occasion. I can’t image loosing my mom at the tender age of 16.

  4. Ugh. Hearing your experience with this in Canada makes me gripe less about our healthcare system in the US. At least I’ve never felt I couldn’t get in for something urgent (though I’ve waited a while for a new patient general exam). I’m betting that receptionist didn’t know who she was dealing with. Well, she sure will now! (They’ve probably put a black box warning label on your chart…)

    Hope it works out for you, Nancy.

    • I should add a post script at the end of this post: I got a call from UBR a couple of hours ago telling me she booked me in at 6:30 am on the 10th! All’s well that ends well!

      • Serves her right for being so miserable. I get that it’s a stressful job – but – at risk of stating the obvious – you’re dealing with people’s lives & health here. Show some sensitivity for crying out loud!

      • I couldn’t agree more. The way I’ve heard some office receptionists speak to patients on the phone makes me cringe. Not so much rude but heavy on the condescension. I’d try to rectify things where I could, but I’m not sure I always succeeded.

      • Condescension is the perfect word, Carrie. It’s downright shameful the tone they use — especially with seniors. (Rage fills me as I remember those trips to the ER last month and the things I witnessed…)

      • You and me both. It takes very little for those of us in healthcare to push our brains past our jobs and think about how we would feel if it was us or a family member on the other side. When you’re ill or hurting, you look to the health team for compassion. Not receiving it leaves us feeling even more vulnerable.

    • Got it, Andra! Bitchy McBitcherson called me 2 hours ago to tell me I’ve been scheduled in at 6:30 am on June 10th. Maybe the universe decided to pick on someone else for a while.

  5. I don’t always read comments Nancy, especially if I’m a couple of days late reading your post and your comment list is as long as your arm and your leg . . . . . so, no commiserations necessary. Congrats on hanging on to your nerve and frightening the woman into giving you a date!

  6. Wow!!! Talk about screwed up. Sounds like that UBR was trained by the CA DMV. Hang in there Nancy. I hope you are back to your normal routine soon.

    • Just got scheduled in for June 10th – so it looks like I’m all set! I’m seeing my surgeon next week – and I’ll ask him if I’m okay to run and lift stuff. fingers crossed he gives me the greenlight. I know I’m crankier than normal because I have all this pent-up workout energy that has nowhere to go. 🙂

  7. LMAO Nance! OMG that picture! Do you just have a knack for attracting stupid or something?! I hope you get cleared soon for heavy duty exercise – that or more pain meds! Glad you got your appointment in the end.

  8. You are amazing that you were able to control you inside voice!! I don’t know that I would have been able to do that. Somebody IS finally watching out for you (well, we all were but somebody that actually has influence to make things happen!!) Whoever it was, thank you to them on your behalf. {angels are singing}

    Glad you can attend the special ceremony. xo

  9. That picture of UBR really made me laugh. Your conversation reminds me of a call I had with my travel insurance company shortly after my mam died. Me: “I had to cancel my holiday because my mam was dying.” UBR: “Your mam WAS dying? You mean she’s not dying anymore?” Seriously, do they take these girls aside when they finish school and teach them the art of missing the fucking obvious and deliberately threading on people’s lives? Delighted you got sorted in the end.

  10. oh my goodness!!
    I was all set to get very angry on your behalf…it may have involved an aeroplane trip and a night in a canadian prison for attacking a receptionist…

    luckily there was a saving post script on the end!!

    I am so pleased that they finally go their arses in to gear!!

    • Me too, Miss Sam. I hung up and ranted and raved like a crazy woman to all those would listen (poor hubby and children). My plan was to leverage the 2 doctors appointments on Wednesday to get myself some more options, but it turns out I don’t need to.
      I’m soooo ready to put this 100% behind me!

  11. Love the updated part especially, Nancy, as it sends a zing of pleasure up my spine knowing that one of us on “the little people” side actually won out over those of the “we are in charge” side.
    There are always solutions. What gets in the way of it are people who’d rather not expend the energy to locate them.
    Good for you!

  12. Geez! What a fucking nightmare. And yet . . . there seems to be some benefit to being in being a squeaky wheel. Honest to goodness, thinking about you and your flippin’ gall bladder all the time. Peace, John

  13. Hooray, you made it! But it is horrible that onehas to push so hard to get descent treatment and care, heard many times of that sort of thing here too. I hope your health problems will be behind you after June!

  14. Yes! You deserve smooth sailing after all this drama! I’m happy universe heard you and the conflict is resolved. What a nightmare you’ve been through. But soon all of it goes to history books…loved your big guns with the UBR.

  15. My apologies! I don’t know why I’m not seeing your posts in my reader. I swear it’s not because of the corsage. 😉 Sorry about the delay in surgery. It’s summer and I’m sure that you want this done pronto! That secretary looks quite intimidating, though, and I’d listen to just about anything she told me to do. Almost.

Talk to me

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s