One of the responsibilities that many Real Women play is an extension of our care giver role: Medical Liaison. And by that, I mean providing transportation to and from medical appointments, taking notes and asking questions, and doing a whole ‘lotta waiting. We perform this role for a wide variety of loved ones: children, spouses, aging parents, and more. (I will hold off on my philosophies about the aging of America and our broken health care system until a future post.)
I am frequently Medical Liaison for my son and my handicapped brother, and just recently, for my husband, who has had to go through some medical testing. I know several co-workers and friends who have also taken on this role, often by default or simply by virtue of being the “closest family member”.
Throughout the many duties we take on as Medical Liaison, the one side-effect that astonishes me the most is the colossal amount of “wasted” time. First is the Chauffeuring. We need to transport ourselves and our patients to and from various and numerous medical centers, doctors’ offices and hospitals which can be anywhere from 10 minutes from home to an hour or more. Generally speaking, our loved ones whom we are transporting may have difficulties getting around, so the process of getting them to and from the car can substantially add to the time involved.
Secondly, and most agonizing, is the WAITING. Even when we do our best to make appointments, be prompt or early for arrival, and call ahead, there is still WAITING…we start out in the appropriately named “Waiting Room”. Funny that they never call it the Lounge, the Welcome Center or the Relaxation Chamber. Eventually we are ushered in to the interior sanctum, go through the first round of questioning by a nurse, and then – yup, WAIT for the doctor. During the discussions with the doctor, your job as a Liaison is to ask any questions your loved one may have neglected to ask, and attempt to pay attention to all details and instructions given. After that meeting, the Dr. may recommend some testing or further steps to take. But before you take those steps, there is one more important thing you must do….which brings us to my Third Attribute of Wasted Time: contacting the insurance company.
We can spend frustratingly large amounts of time on the internet and on the phone with Insurance Companies attempting to get an answer as to what, who, where and how much they will cover. Only after getting those nuggets of information (which, you guessed it, often requires WAITING on hold on the phone), you can proceed with your next steps.
And guess what? If you need to take more tests, you can go back to the start of the process, and be the Chauffeur to the next facility. After repeating steps 1 – 3, you can expect to have the thrill of WAITING for the test results.
I am very lucky that my employer understands the occasional need for unexpected PTO for family reasons, and my boss is open to fairly flexible work schedules to accommodate personal medical needs. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not getting anxious about the work sitting on my desk not getting done because I am spending my day Chauffeuring and Waiting… which, in reality, can become a part-time job in itself.
In the past, if I have been out and about during regular weekday hours, I’ve wondered why there are so many cars and people bustling about, why those people are not at work somewhere……now, after my recent experiences, I have come to a startling conclusion. I believe that the majority of them are Real Women fulfilling their Medical Liaison responsibilities.