It finally happened.
We hit a "quack".
Well, I didn't actually hit him, but I wanted to, before it was all over.
And he wasn't just a quack, actually, but a honking, stinking, waddling crock of quack-sh*t .
(I'm not fond of him. Can you tell?)
I should have known that any specialist who seemingly suddenly has an entire afternoon free might be suspect, but at the time, I was relieved that we wouldn't have to wait until next Tuesday to see a pediatric rheumatologist. "A wonderful twist of fate!" I thought.
Not so. Let this be a lesson to all of us: Never, ever blindly pick a specialist from the yellow pages. Also, anything that Fate decides to twist should be regarded with the same care and caution that you would apply to, say, a ticking time-bomb.
After checking in, and paying (in advance, of course) the deductible, and filling out yet more forms, we waited. I idly noticed that some of the magazines in the waiting room were (quite literally) older than Twinks.
We continued to wait. I observed that my grandparents had owned a lamp just like the one on the corner table when I was a mere child.
We waited some more. I thought it was weird that the receptionist was hand-writing receipts, and had a pile of hand-addressed statements and invoices ready to be mailed. I tried to remember the last time I had seen paperwork like that...
Finally, after 90 minutes, the nurse finally came to take us back... ...to the Quack's office! Not an exam room, but his actual office. Desk, chairs, bookcases, books, and diplomas on the wall. And more old magazines piled everywhere.
When I saw the diplomas, I should have grabbed Twinks and run. Because the Quack graduated from Medical School before I was born.
Did I ever tell you that I'm 45 years old?
Now, as I look around the office, I'm wondering if it is indeed still 2006 - not because we have been waiting so long (now over two hours) but because there isn't anything in this room from before 1955. The furniture, the anatomical models, many of the textbooks in the shelves that run floor to ceiling behind the Quack's desk. It's like falling into an episode of "Happy Days", and you expect Richie Cunningham and The Fonz to show up at any moment.
Finally, the Quack shuffles in. I hand over a set of lab results and reports from other specialists. He flips through them with a thin, shaky hand. His hair is carefully combed over, and, as I live and breathe, he has a pocket protector. He is 75 years old, easily, and I wonder why he hasn't retired yet.
Now, Gentle Reader, you must understand - up to this point, I am perhaps a bit bemused by the situation, but not overly concerned. After all, my father-in-law is still working 40+ hours every week, and he will be 73 years old in just a few weeks. So age - in and of itself - is not something that will ordinarily prejudice me. I know many people who are in their 80s, even one lovely 91 year old woman, and they are all every bit as vibrant and active as I am.
It wasn't until he opened his mouth, and began to speak, that I realized that this particular doctor was indeed a Quack. Not a regular run-of-the-mill Quack, but a Quack of the first order, I might add.
Because, this Quack decided right away that Twinks needed to see a psychiatrist. That the reason she was in pain was because she was depressed - and don't you know, they have a new study that shows that depression causes pain? This was, by the way, without benefit of any examination, or even discussion with Twinks.
I pointed out, somewhat tersely, that pain - especially long-term, untreated pain - was known to cause depression as well. That if the cause of the pain was discovered, and the pain was treated appropriately, then the depression (if there indeed was any) would very likely cease to exist. That her father and I believed her - and believed that she is in pain - real pain - all the time. I also indicated that a rush to judgment on matters such as these might lead me and others to believe that insufficient thought and care were being given to my child's condition.
He then reluctantly indicated we should go to an exam room next door. We traipsed behind him, Twinks looking up at me with eyes that were brimming with tears. "Mama!" she whispered urgently, but there was no time for her to finish the sentence. The Quack began his examination by pressing on the "trigger points" that are commonly used to diagnose fibromyalgia. Twinks responded as I knew she would - yelping and crying out. Now the tears began streaking down her cheeks, and she tried hard to maintain her composure.
"Tendonitis" the Quack declared. "Simple Tendonitis". So, I pointed out that if it indeed is "tendonitis", shouldn't we be seeing an orthopedics specialist, instead of a rheumatologist? I handed Twinks a tissue. He replied that he could treat her for "everything, expect the depression. You will have to find a children's shrink for that". I asked him if she had fibromyalgia, or perhaps even arthritis. He replied that he had just spent the last twenty years of his life, working for the Social Security Administration, disproving claims by "liars and crooks" that were trying to "cheat our government" by "going on the dole" because they had "a condition that doesn't exist!" Here, he paused briefly to tell us how he "knew the guy who DISCOVERED fibromyalgia" and that this guy now "wishes he had kept his mouth shut" because it (fibromyalgia) is "being used by every scam artist in the country to try and defraud the Social Security Administration for disability payments".
Then, he said that only three kinds of people get fibromyalgia.
The first kind are those who are hypochondriacs. They want everyone to wait on them hand and foot, because they are so pitiful. There is nothing wrong with them that a swift kick in the butt wouldn't cure.
The next kind are those who are depressed (here he paused to look significantly at Twinks) and they want to explain away their pain with an "easy diagnosis". These people have been "lied to" about fibromyalgia, and believe that it actually exists.
The last group of people are "those who are intentionally and actively seeking to cheat the government." They are trying to fake it in order to get benefits that they don't really deserve.
He then said again that she had "common tendonitis" and that she just needed to go home, and stop worrying about everything.
By this time, I had helped Twinks get her braces and shoes back on. I stood, and gathered up our things, and headed for the door.
The Quack followed, remarking that "as soon as she sees the pyschiatrist, I can start to help her, but don't be surprised if you don't need me after she gets a few sessions under her belt".
Amazingly enough, I declined the opportunity to make a follow-up appointment.
Twinks held it together until the elevator opened in the lobby. The first thing she wanted to know was if Daddy and I thought that she was crazy. She wanted to know if we thought that she was "faking" it. She wanted to know why that doctor didn't believe her, and why he thought everyone was a slacker or a scammer.
It's a good thing that The Wrench wasn't there. Because when I told him what happened, he went ballistic.
I have spent the last four days trying to undo the damage that the old Quack has done. Twinks has finally begun to understand what we all sometimes forget: That not everyone who is a doctor, should be a doctor. That not every doctor is as compassionate as we would wish them to be. That some doctors should have to wear big yellow shoes, and a bright yellow bill, so that we would all know them for what they are: