Today I returned to the private specialist to have two stitches in my hand removed. I waited one hour to be seen, had one stitch removed during a very brief consultation and was then charged €150 for this pleasure. And to cap it all, I’ve been asked to return next week to have the last stitch removed. Can you believe it?
I’m still angry about this check-up. I arrived five minutes early for my appointment but had to wait until four people ahead of me had been seen. When I was eventually called in to the doctor’s room, I received no apology for the delay and this did not impress me. I had a punch biopsy performed on an infected lesion a week ago and was asked to return to get the biopsy report and to have the stitches removed. Only one stitch was taken out today – the specialist felt that the wound hadn’t fully healed thanks to my history of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). I was surprised by this as my hand looked pretty good to me but I didn’t argue.
The only good bit of news today was that the biopsy report showed the lesion to be non-malignant. The not-so-good news was that the swabs taken one week ago, show that I remain colonised (in my nose) as well as infected (in the hand) by the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. I’m all too familiar with Staph aureus having fought a long battle with it in the past, with infection due to MRSA, the antibiotic resistant strain of this bacteria. About 20-30% of the population are colonised with Staph A at any given time but unless they become infected by it, it does not pose a problem. A swab taken two weeks ago established that my present infection is sensitive to penicillin thankfully and I’ve been undergoing treatment with an appropriate oral antibiotic since then. I now also have to begin a de-colonisation treatment which involves using an antibiotic nasal ointment for the next year.
I think what bugged me the most about today was the sheer arrogance of it all. I’m well used to delays in doctors’ clinics and I don’t have a problem with this as long as I receive a simple apology. I can appreciate that doctors are very busy people but that doesn’t excuse bad manners. My consultation was very rushed lasting just 5 minutes or less, and I was given little or no opportunity to discuss anything. When I was asked to return in another week’s time for follow-up, I presumed that there would be no charge for today’s consultation. Not only did I presume wrong, I was asked to pay the same amount as I paid for the initial consultation two weeks ago. Usually a lesser charge is made for a return visit. And as if to rub salt into the wound, I also had to pay double the car park fee thanks to the long wait to be seen.
Now, I’ve seen many doctors over the years but I’ve never, ever felt as ripped off as I did today. I despair if this is the sort of health service we can anticipate when/if our Minister for Health gets her wish to privatise healthcare in this country. I did not settle today’s bill on principle and instead offered to pay next week when my treatment has been completed. The doctor’s secretary was not amused and insisted I took away a bill showing that €150 was still due for ‘Con 2’. I sure felt conned alright! You have to realise that the specialist will also be handsomely paid by my insurance company for carrying out the biopsy as a day procedure. It looks as if consultation no. 3 may well result in another charge and I’m suspicious now that this may be the real reason for why the final stitch wasn’t removed today. I think I’ll ring in the morning and query whether or not there’ll be another charge. If this is the case, then I might have to remove my own stitch and treat myself to some retail therapy instead.
My Christmas wish is that one day I’ll be able to wave goodbye to ‘Staph’ and resort back to being just plain old Steph.