I have talked about my mom’s stroke and the subsequent finding of a large, benign tumor in her brain. She is recovering from the stroke quite nicely, although when she is anxious or tired, her symptoms of confusion and impaired cognitive functioning become more pronounced. The problem now is a large tumor that is encasing one of her optic nerves and pressing on the other. Along with being in a pretty inaccessible section of the brain, this is a situation that requires extreme specialization.
Like the kind you’d find at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Where we were yesterday.
At the time of the shooting.
If I’m counting my blessings, I will say that the standoff occurred in the hospital, not the outpatient center we were visiting. I will also express relief that the doctor who was shot is likely to recover from his injuries.
But for me, personally? Oh, come on! Is all of this not hard enough for me and my mom? We haven’t had one visit to Johns Hopkins that’s gone smoothly. All of our drives there have taken twice as long as they should — by which I mean over two hours instead of one — which has been exhausting. The first day we were late, but they were able to see us. But the doctor was also late, so we ended up spending all day in the office. Leaving us with perfect timing to encounter a huge storm on the Beltway, giving us a three hour drive home. Totals were seven hours spent for a forty-minute appointment.
The next visit we stayed in a hotel overnight in Baltimore to be sure to be at the early appointment, but there was a mix-up with the hotel calling our cab, so we made it there just on time. Following protocol we had been chastised about before, we took a number and didn’t check in until they called our number. That’s when they told us that the time we arrived was the time scheduled for the MRI, and so by waiting to be called, my mom had missed her slot. They thought they might be able to fit us in late afternoon. I almost cried. There was a bit of luck when another appointment was suddenly canceled as we sat there, but it was too late for my anxiety level, which was already through the roof. We had another terribly long drive home.
So for this visit, we did everything right. We left super early, counting on a two-hour drive. We double-checked the appointment and the map. We arrived at the outpatient center at 11:25 a.m., where I dropped off my mom to wait inside while I parked the car. By the time I walked back at 11:30 a.m., they were putting the Center on lockdown and wouldn’t let me in. I finally was able to convince a guard to walk me in to find my mother, but they wouldn’t let us proceed to the fifth floor for her appointments. No, we had to go outside and wait for ninety minutes where we heard reports of the situation from the other patients and visitors. The police helicopters overheard also clued us in to something really big going down.
The office called me to reschedule, but I told them that we were outside, my mom had come from Virginia Beach for this appointment, and if that building opened before 5:00 p.m., we were coming in. With the specter of keeping my mom with me for another week to wait for another set of Thursday appointments, I pretty much would have scaled the walls with my mom on my back to get us in to see those doctors.
Once we did get in, we had a pretty easy time of the scheduling as they had told most of their afternoon patients not to come. However, we did not get the information we needed to start on our treatment plan, because our main doctor didn’t compare the old MRI with the new one before we came, and then didn’t have the right files by the time he saw us at 4:00 p.m. And he was kind of cranky about it, too. So, after all of that, we left with little more information than we had coming in. Oh, and since we stayed in the hospital for a quick dinner — Baja Fresh! — before driving home, our total time in the parking garage went thirty minutes over six hours, for which our fee went from $6.00 to $11.00. Just a final indignity to the visit.
But not that final, because we also had a two-and-a-half-hour drive home, as we seemed to be hitting rush hour traffic still at 8:00 p.m.
Clearly I have in some way offended the Universe, and would like to make amends. If anyone has suggestions on how to do so, I’m open to them.
For now, I’m taking the rest of the day off after this vent. And then taking my mom back to Virginia Beach tomorrow — along with my ninth grade Girl Scout troop — because I don’t do anything the easy way. God, give me strength.