Why I Fired My Physician

When I moved into my house, I had to find a new internist/family doctor. I liked my other one a great deal, but her office was just too far away. So, I found one nearby and easy to reach via public transit.

She was decidedly okay. Not great. Not particularly likable, but not dislikable  either, part of a large university health system practice. Her staff, however, was just stupid.

When showing me back to the room on my third visit there, the nurse shouted at me because I didn’t turn into the room she indicated. “Didn’t you see me pointing to that one?” she yelled, sounding quite put-out.

“Uh, no,” I admitted. “I’m blind.”

“Well, I didn’t know. You should have told me.” Still sounding pissed off.

Say what? There I am, pre surgery I had a year later, so wearing my pink-lensed glasses to protect my eyes from light, holding the harness of my Seeing Eye Dog—a harness that has “Property of the Seeing Eye” written on the back strap in pretty big letters (the harness belongs to the school, not the dog.)

She didn’t know what that meant. She lives in a major U.S. city and had no idea what a guide dog is or why someone would have one.

And so, this ignorance continued.

Last year, during COVID, I made a telehealth appointment because—hello! Pandemic? Their protocol was to have patients wait in their cars until time for their appointment. That way, which had no one in the lobby.

Mind you, this is December in Chicagoland. Mind you, I can’t drive; thus, I do not arrive in a car. The office is a mile and a half from my house. Easily walkable … in good weather. Dangerous when ice coats the sidewalks, which was the case. I wasn’t using public transit at the time because of that pandemic thing and no vaccination yet.

But my doctor insisted she wouldn’t count telehealth as an appointment and I needed to come in in person. I explained why I couldn’t. She wouldn’t back down. Mind you, I had nothing wrong with me; this was just the annual thing. If she wanted bloodwork, I could have gone to an immediate care center nearby my house. But, no, she insisted I should come in, even if I had to wait in freezing temperatures until my appointment after walking over a mile to get there.

This is called “Reasonable Accommodation”. Or they could have made an exception and let me come into the waiting room.

Thing is, their web site, their telephone hold announcements, and even their scheduling people say telehealth appointments are readily available.

And, of course, we can go for the ableist behavior. Yelling to me in the waiting room because, you know, when you’re blind you can’t hear either, I guess, since people do this. Doing this in a medical office means my HIPAA rights are violated, by the way.

Assuming, not asking, I can’t do something simple like walk next door,
because I can’t see. Grabbing my arm, though I told them again and again not to do so.

All in all, I was made uncomfortable and irritated every time I went there.

So, when I had a prescription needing a refill, a thyroid medication I can’t go without taking, the doctor refused to fill it because I hadn’t come in for an appointment.

I was vaccinated by then, so tried to make an appointment. Not for three months. Seriously.

So, when my prescription came due again, guess what?

You got it. She refused because I hadn’t been in for an in-person appointment. I had to threaten to report her to the Board of Medicine before I got my refill, when a simple look at my records would show her I had an appointment the next week.

I canceled it and got an appointment at a different practice. Let us hope they understand reasonable accommodation and what a guide dog is.

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