And then there’s this guy…


These days I try to keep a unicorn-rainbow-smiling sun-bunnies and butterflies view of the world.

I try to allow for bad behavior, bad drivers, bad comments and general badness by believing I may not know the whole story and perhaps the person is not always like that. I assume innocence and hope for the best.

That lets me look at all walks of life with a positive attitude. Professions of general animus or derision, such as doctors, lawyers and politicians, I like to believe chose their jobs because they want to do good by the people they represent. Therefore, I do not resent their being well-paid.

And then there’s this guy…

Just recently you were told about my reasonably upbeat medical results. I do have one nagging issue that I can attribute to genetics (thanks, Dad!) and that’s a post nasal drip.

To clear up confusion, post nasal drip is not a runny nose, although it is runny. It’s that icky feeling when, instead of a runny nose, it runs down the back of your throat.

You spend a lot of time clearing your throat but without much progress, since there’s really not a lot to clear. Think of a slowly dripping faucet inside your throat. Ick.

Last time at the doctor, I had a horrific esophagram. If I had known its alter ego (barium swallow), no way would I had gone for the test. And, of course, it came back negative (or, as they say in the report, “unremarkable”, which sounds vaguely insulting).

So, we (my primary doctor and I) decided that I should visit an ENT doctor. Conveniently, just across the hall from him.

Interestingly, the doctor I was told to go see sloughed me off to someone else in his practice (I guessed that a post nasal drip is not exactly on the high earners list).

The doctor I saw did the standard stuff (ear light, wooden stick, etc.)

Digression: Why do they use those wooden sticks? Every time one is placed on my tongue I feel like fingernails on a blackboard. Can’t they use plastic or something? I asked the doctor and he chuckled and said it’s probably because they are cheaper. Meh. End Digression.

Then he stuck this long, long, long thing up my nose to look around. Good gosh, that was uncomfortable. My nose burned and my eyes teared and what I got for that was, “yep, you’ve definitely got a post nasal drip.” Gee, thanks Doc.

After more discussion eliminating some possible causes, he suggested it could be allergies. He asked if I would take an allergy test and I asked what that would entail. He said they apply some substances, focused on inhalants, to my skin to narrow down the potential treatments.

I mentioned I was without insurance and he said it would add some cost to the visit. I decided, absent other expensive health care costs, to go ahead with the test. I was shipped off to another room to await the nurse who would administer the test.

A few minutes later, she walked in, pushing what I will now forever refer to as the “tray of doom”. It was a cart that had on it about 60 (yes, sixty) vials of “stuff” and a plastic box filled with syringes.

Um, taxi?

She explained that, while indeed they apply some stuff to my skin, they need to inject a bunch of stuff to more fully refine the results. How many, I asked. Up to 30, she replied and the room froze.

I mentioned, in very firm terms, that I didn’t like needles. Really, really didn’t. This was confirmed when she took my blood pressure prior to the test and it had ballooned to 160/110. Considering I’m generally 125/75, yeah, I don’t like needles.

After waiting to see if it would go down, and seeing it fall only a little, we decided to postpone the test (forever, in my mind, but let them think otherwise).

I got a prescription from the doctor for the post nasal drip and went to the front to pay. The visit was already at $323 when the office person asked me when I wanted to reschedule the allergy test. She told me it was around $800 for the uninsured. No reschedule, thank you.

I left with the prescription and a nagging thought followed me all the way to the Walgreen’s a couple of blocks from my house. I asked the woman behind the counter to give me a price before processing any paperwork, joking that everything else about this doctor had been expensive.

She quietly said, yes, it’s expensive. $400.

$400??? For a post nasal drip??? That hasn’t been identified for cause???

Seriously, when a patient comes in and makes clear they have no insurance, can the doctor be any more uninvested as to write a prescription for a $400 medicine? In all the world of medical science there was nothing more affordable to help me?

I crumpled the prescription with a bemused and disappointed chuckle, smiled at the clerk and left.

I’ll spend some time researching internet medical postings before deciding on a non-prescription treatment for my annoying-but-not-life-threatening issue.

And, unicorns and butterflies notwithstanding, I won’t be returning to the ENT.

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