Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dr. No

As I write this, a dear friend is battling the medical system in order to get a surgery she needs. She is in agony, and if her doctor and pharmacists had their druthers, they'd keep her that way. Once the surgery is done, she should be feeling better.

Her doctor had a hissy fit last night because she called his bluff.

He thought he could dismiss her and shut her up by prescribing Vicodin, a move that did nothing for the pain. He thought she would choose inaction while he scratched his butt with his golden-surgeon hands. He thought she wouldn't advocate for herself.

And he still thinks he doesn't have to do what is right -- schedule the damn surgery. (He did reluctantly acknowledge the surgery was necessary.)

OK, back to this arrogant jerk's hissy fit. After my friend called his office repeatedly to relay that the Vicodin wasn't making a dent in the pain, Dr. No finally called her back and said off the cuff: "Well, if the Vicodin isn't working, you should be calling me from the emergency room."

So she took him at face value -- and went to the emergency room.

And the hospital admitted her overnight for pain management. She had carte blanche to painkillers like morphine.

Dr. No-Brains was taken aback -- flabbergasted in fact -- when he saw that she actually went to the emergency room and was receiving the Mercedes painkiller treatment. He released her after scolding her and then saying he didn't know when the surgery would be and that she could double the dose of her Vicodin.

I want so badly to help my friend, who recently suggested that I be like Cyrano de Bergerac and hide behind the gauze while I tell her the words she needed to woo the doctor into a state of obedience.

Unfortunately, some doctors are jerks. Dr. No needs to be fired by his patients -- and with gusto. I know my friend will ultimately get what she wants and needs, but this doctor believes he can just toy with his patients' suffering.

By the time he came to my friend's room late last night, he said he was delivering babies all day, so she said sarcastically, "Yeah, you look real worn out." I took joy in her mouthing off at him and felt the urge to rub the salt in the wound by telling him that cats and dogs can give birth without doctors, and the local yokel at the hospital could do his job.

The key is, my friend is now resting comfortably and she will ultimately get her needs met.

I just hope it's sooner than later.

Beth L. Gainer is a professional writer and has published numerous academic and magazine articles, as well as an essay on her breast cancer experience in the anthology Voices of Breast Cancer by LaChance Publishing. She writes about a potpourri of topics, including motherhood and her Chinese adoption experience at, and her cat Hemi blogs at Beth teaches writing and literature at Robert Morris University in the Chicago area. She can be contacted at and



  1. When I was in the worst of the tourette's years, I wrote an essay called "The Joyless Healers." It wasn't entirely fair.

    Some doctors are great, some are garbage. You get the same result when you sample any group. The difference is, most groups you sample don't make critical decisions with potentially catastrophic consequences.

    Good post on an unfortunate topic.

  2. Thanks, Josh. This doctor is a total loser, as you can tell, because he allows her to be in pain. Will post an update how she advocated for herself since this posting.

    I appreciate your response. And you are right: some doctors are great, too. I would venture to say that most are competent, but like many people, I've had my share of clunkers.

  3. I love that your friend went to the ER and checked herself in. You can tell she's under your feisty influence. :)

    Aren't all those pain meds Dr. No is prescribing addictive? Sounds irresponsible to me. Double dose my double-sized butt!

  4. Yeah, the doc's a proper crock. She's firing him. YAY!!

  5. I loved this posting, Beth. You know me... my favorite line was, "He thought she would choose inaction while he scratched his butt with his golden-surgeon hands."

    I'm glad your friend finally let go this crock of a doc.

  6. Thanks, Judy, for your supportive comments!