drcpunk (drcpunk) wrote,

Medical Update: A Season for Stones

Friday, I woke up with an ache I thought was more similar than I'd like to the first symptom of what I was told was a kidney stone back in June. The aches spread about the same way, and the same tenderness was there -- as if I'd bruised myself, but no actual bruises.

I looked at the clock and reckoned that, barring an emergency room, no doctor would talk to me until Tuesday, so I upped the water intake, which is already pretty high, took ibuprofen, and took a flomax.

Things seemed a little better on Saturday, with some variation in the level of pain. By Sunday, as expected, I started menstruating. Tuesday, I called the urologist's Manhattan office. The receptionist said that I needed to see my GP first, and if the GP thought it were urological, then I could make an appointment.

Tuesday night, I had more aches and pains, none of which were excruciating, but some of which were weird enough to confuse, and thus, scare me. These included:

Pain in lower back like an ache.
Tenderness over ribs.
A stitch in the side.
Waking up to use the bathroom and feeling like there were (small) bricks on my thighs and just below my breasts.
Feeling like there were bands around my upper arms.
An occasionally an ache between the breasts, once I started worrying.

We decided to wait till morning rather than do an emergency room visit at 4 am, where it would almost certainly take hours to be seen anyway. Naturally, since I woke mneme at 3 am to worry him, we got a late start, but I am glad he got rest. I figured he'd need it, the more so if an emergency room trip proved necessary.

By 11:30 or so, mnemex called our GP's office, and said that I was complaining of "weird pains", which I reckoned was both accurate and likely to get an appointment. We were told to come in at 2:15. Our back up plan had been to go to Lennox Hill, as womzilla had been there a year ago, and said that he had received good care there.

I was seen first by a medical student, which I have come to expect at Downtown Family Medicine. They're always very polite.

The doctor was also polite, concerned, and professional. He said to watch and wait until my menstrual flow stops, then give a urine sample. If the pain gets bad, I should call him and go to the ER> I asked for a definition of bad enough pain, and he said that if it increases to point where ibuprofen doesn't help and I can't sleep or sit still because of the pain, call and go to the ER. In the meantime, I'm to keep up the high water intake. He is concerned about either a second kidney stone or kidney gravel, if not an actual stone.

I said we were concerned about possibility of appendicitis, though we thought kidney stones more likely. The doctor had me lie down and pressed in the appropriate area a few times, and said he did not think it was the appendix, but again, if pain increased, I will call him.

The doctor says that this is kidney stone weather. mnemex asked why, and he said that the heat and the humidity can lead to dehydration.

If there is indeed a kidney stone season, can we hunt the critters? womzilla says that it is a terrible idea.

Meanwhile, I hope we've cleared up a billing issue. When I saw the doctor months ago for a check up, my insurance had just switched over. There was some confusion about this, so I got a bill. I called the doctor's office, and the receptionist referred me to the billing agent. I left several messages, including one after I called the insurance company and confirmed that the bill had been paid and the check cashed.

I then got an email from the doctor's office requesting that I paypal him the money, and saying to call the billing agency. I did, and she got back to me. She'd typoed my phone number, which was why I never got her follow up call from the last time.

The billing agent had confirmed that I'd paid the bill. She had not sent the email, and she was annoyed that the doctor had done this, since dealing with billing is supposed to be what she does. She said she'd talked to the doctor about this.

A few weeks later, this happened again. This time, I called both the recptionist and the billing agent. Both said they'd talk to the doctor.

Shortly after we made the appointment for today, I got another email from his office, simultaneously saying that the payment request had been cancelled and that I should contact the billing office at once. mnemex pointed out that the latter was actually part of the forwarded message, and that, while it had what looked like the doctor's eddress, it had been sent from Paypal.

When we arrived at the office, the receptionist asked me about the outstanding bill. This was not the same woman as the one I'd talked to before, so I explained the situation.

I asked the doctor what was up with that. It turns out that he's got things set up so that, when the billing agency sends him the names of people who owe money, I think on the first of the month, email automatically goes out.

I think he needs to talk with the billing agent, but he's not the only one sending me bills that have been paid. I got another one, which even said on it to ignore it if it had been paid. It was dated after the place had cashed the check. I called up whichever place this was and confirmed that the payment had indeed been received.

I do understand that doctors need to be paid. But really, I could use not having to spend time and energy tracking down proofs of payment.

Here's hoping that the pain will stay manageable and low, and that I can give a nice urine sample on Monday.
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