Let's say, for example, that everybody says, "Oh, you need to have your foot x-rayed." And how, exactly, does one do that? Does one look up "radiology" in the phone book? Does one walk into an emergency room for something that is not an emergency? What?
So I called my physician, but of course he has no x-ray equipment (which I knew) and he's not in today anyway and nobody else is free today to see me so they suggest I call my insurance customer service provider for in-network providers with x-ray equipment. Oh, that was after a 15-minute wait to speak to the receptionist (which, admittedly, is quite rare at this office). Anyway, the call to my insurance provider required several voice-activated menus and another 15 minutes of waiting. I spoke to a representative and explained my situation and got a couple of numbers, presumably of radiologists.
The first number did not answer. Not even a machine. The second number was that of a heart-scan specialist at the local hospital which has nothing to do with what I need. She, however, was able to give me the number of the actual radiology department. But the radiology department it turns out doesn't just take patients off the street, they require a doctor's referral. So I could go back to square one and call my doctor back and just arrange for the next available appointment whenever that might fall, but instead of calling my doctor back I called the orthopedist's office where I had my elbow-bursitis treated which I thought of calling in the first place but do you really just call a medical specialist like that and say "x-ray my foot"? I thought you had to be referred to a specialist by your primary doctor, because of how insurance works. Of course there are no available appointments anyway at the local branch of the orthopedics practice for at least this week, but if I go to a suburban location I can see an orthopedist tomorrow morning and that's what I will do. It may wind up costing me a bit extra to have gone this route, of going directly to a specialist.
So now I will actually be seeing an orthopedist in about 24 hours time. And even that is just to see if the orthopedist recommends that I have the x-ray done and that will probably involve yet another appointment at yet another place. Did I mention that driving is a little uncomfortable for me at the moment? 'Cause, you know, I have a swollen and sore right foot.
If I don't see a doctor, there is the risk that rest and time and such will not really be enough here and that there might be long-term problems that could be avoided if I see a doctor. I doubt this -- I am, after all, getting better each day. But even making these arrangements has been what is for me a form of hell (I know not everybody is so stressed out by this rigamarole, but I am). How does anybody who is actually sick or in immediate pain manage this?
Everybody I spoke with was perky and sweet and friendly. This is Minnesota. Everybody did their absolute best to take their time with me and try to figure out what I needed to do. This was the right course to follow, all told. But is it any wonder that many of us avoid doing this?