Not an hour after sending my complaint letter to Alberta Health Services I received a phone call from some random person hired to intercept any and all lightly veiled threats and angry comments. It was fairly quickly that this woman had absolutely no intention of actually listening to a thing I had to say and when asked about just why the deuce anyone could possible think 18 months is an appropriate wait time, responded by saying "Well, there's a lot of people." No kidding, Sherlock; did you figure that one out yourself or did you need a graphing calculator to help? The only thing she could offer me was, once again (as this option was presented to me before), looking at going to the 'Pain Lecture Series' offered by the Pain Clinic. At that point I was so desperate to get off the phone with the one person who couldn't have possibly sounded more indifferent if she'd tried, so I gave her my address and hung up.
Cut to a couple of weeks later (keeping in mind that I only live an hour and a half away from Calgary, making even THAT wait time seem ridiculous) I eagerly open my envelope from Alberta Health Services praying to god it is some sort of vindication for the trauma of the last nine years of my life. No, what I found was a single sheet of paper listing the many Pain Lecture Series that I, as a pain sufferer could attend.
Guess how long it took me to begin laughing hysterically? Go on, guess. About the time it took for me to read the first line:
Lecture One: Introduction to Your Pain.
What? WHAT? Seriously? Are you serious? Really? Really honestly truly serious? What? I-I- WHAT? I don't need an introduction to my pain! My pain and I have met! We've been roommates for the last NINE years! My pain is the sort of roommate who doesn't wash the dishes and leaves their toenail clippings in the bathtub. I do NOT need an introduction to my pain.
The only plus out of the whole experience is now I have one more thing to add to my stand up routine because, let's face it, an introduction to my pain takes the idea of 'laughable' and makes it absolutely hysterical, I'm talking BBC Comedy Funny. It makes me wonder what sort of group of people could possibly be running our system? Oh, that's right, the ones who hired Stephen Duckett to 'fix the system' and offered him a 500G bonus if he could do it. Maybe instead of slashing the benefits for nurses to save money you could find someone with a sliver of intelligence willing to do the same job for a nice lunch and a foot massage. I'm pretty sure just about anyone of us could tell them how to fix the system. It goes like this: Bring back medical premiums, I know they suck, but that was a huge part of the funding for Alberta, and without it we're looking at wait times like 18 months for a chronic pain clinic!
Anyways, to make a long story short, I'm about to copy and paste my previous blog post in a letter to Mr. Duckett (he doesn't deserve the term 'Doctor' as far as I'm concerned), and I'm going to continue to reign a hellish brimstone fire down over their heads. Out of the six people I contacted about this little wrinkle in the system, I only received one, maybe two responses. The local MLA contacted me, and actually passed it on to someone in Health Services, who spent the last month looking up information and whom I have to call back tomorrow. It's a start anyways. When I first spoke to her I made it clear that I was not looking to get bumped ahead (although I wouldn't say no). I want, no, I need to know that I'm not the only one who finds this wait list disgusting, and I need to see something done about it.
Knowing that I won't be getting in to the pain clinic any time soon (and I won't be going to any lectures because, let's face it, I could just as easily get to know my pain over a nice glass of red wine and some spaghetti) so I made an appointment to see my surgeon this Friday. Will he be able to pull strings? Probably not, but that doesn't matter. He may have an idea about new medication; as well, I need to know if it would be possible to have a second thorcoplasty done on my right side, as that's where a lot of the discomfort comes from. As reluctant as I am to go back to the hospital, I need to have a few questions answered, and I have a feeling that the good ol' Doc will at the very least listen to my concerns. Thank god, as it seems as if very few others in positions of power will.
I was going to end on a high note by listing off the other lectures available to us pain sufferers, but I lost it the moment I hit "Medication and Pain Management". It's almost like they're asking to be relentlessly mocked; not exactly the wisest tactic when they're telling people to wait up to two years just to see someone who to prescribed the medication.
PS: There's also an 'Anger and Pain Management' related lecture, but I think I've got that one covered.