First of all, when a nurse is looking at your name on your chart, you would think she might try harder to pronounce it right. "Jane Levinson?" Second of all, when you the only person in the waiting room, you would think she would look up, realize it's probably you, and ask with an inflection that indicates that she realizes it's probably you, but she has to be sure, rather than a robotic, head-down, let's-get-this-one-corralled-into-the-next-room attitude. And once she has you in the next room, when she asks you why you are here, and you say that you were referred by one of the doctors in the same practice (subtly and perhaps passive aggressively indicating that it should be in your chart) and you go on to tell about your breathing issues, and she interrupts to say it doesn't matter who referred you, and you take a deep breath and turn around so you won't say something inappropriate, it is time to practice Patience: Do not aggravate a situation with wasted grief.
I'm happy to say it worked. I transformed my relationship with Debbie pretty quickly from throttle to cooperation, which was especially good because she chatted with me while taking my blood pressure so the mechanized machine couldn't read me correctly and re-inflated two times before capturing my most excellent blood pressure of 97/56, at which point she casually said she shouldn't have made me talk because the machine always does that when she talks with people and who wants the cuff to inflate more than once? She then went on to prick my arms with 60 allergens and leave them to incubate for 15 minutes, and as she left the room (door open) she said "Just call if you need anything. My name is Debbie but I'll answer to anything if you scream loud enough. Those things can get itchy!"
I didn't see Debbie again. Instead, the doctor came in when my timer went off, and once again, I went over the breathing, the questionable asthma, the reflux, the triathlon, the lung infections, the sudden onset if it all. Maybe it's because he's an allergist, but he thinks I have allergies. The prick test showed reactions to a random variety of trees, to dust mites, and to, of all things, rabbits. (Rabbits? Who's allergic to rabbits? I thought they were the go-to pets for people who are allergic to cats and dogs.) They weren't huge reactions. I certainly wasn't calling for Debbie, nor was I going into anaphylactic shock. I got a few bumps. I got a little itchy. It didn't seem like a big deal to me. I went to work.
As I write this, I am trying to figure out what makes it particularly part of an ethical practice, aside from the way I handled myself with a nurse who had less attention for me than I had for her. I think it might be that I am acting with such persistence to solve my breathing problems. That I haven't given up on myself. That I am leaving no stone unturned. That I am committed to my own health for my own sake and the sake of the people who love me. In some ways it would be easier not to, and when the doctor told me that today was Part 1 of allergy testing, I nearly spit. It turns out that I have to go back on Thursday morning so they can inject the allergens under my skin (woohoo!) for a better diagnosis. At least I'll know that I'll need to have my Patience game on before I walk in the door.