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If my blood pressure reading was off the charts at my appointment, I wonder how it fared afterward?

Just as I got home, Dr. Fisher’s nurse called. “You need to get an MRI before the surgery,” she said.

Paula hadn’t been able to reach the schedulers, so she gave me the number. I should have suspected something. If my surgeon’s nurse with her experience and connections couldn’t reach anyone—what were my chances?

Not good, I soon found out. I dialed the number and it rang about a hundred times before being picked up by the hospital operator who connected me back to the same number. After a few rounds of this, and some colorful language on my part, the operator tried a different number, which turned out to be “not in service.” I was disconnected. This time when I re-rang the operator, she gave me a different new number.

Someone picked up, joy! But she said, “No, not my department,” and sent me back into the loop again, before I could even say, “But wait! Help!”

I had three business days to get an MRI, and no way to schedule it.

Looping endlessly through the hospital’s phone system wasn’t working, so it seemed like a better use of time to drive to the hospital in person.

A half hour later, I was in Radiology—where my “no cancer” mammogram had been done several weeks earlier.

At the check-in desk, I asked if I could schedule an MRI. But no. The receptionist said, “Scheduling isn’t done in this building.” After consulting her computer, she wrote a number on a slip of paper and handed it to me. It was the same number.

When the receptionist saw my agitation, she said, “Try the wall phone,” indicating the curly-tailed dinosaur on the opposite wall. Did it have special powers, a direct link? No, it didn’t. I went through the same loop as I did at home. I’m not proud. I sank to my knees, near tears.

In retrospect, I should have called Dr. Fisher’s office, but I’ve always been afflicted by the sense that every problem is mine to solve.

A young woman in the farthest cubicle saw my distress. “Are you okay? Can I help?” she asked. I blubbered about being scheduled for surgery in three business days, with no way to schedule an MRI.

She tried the call herself, with the same result, shaking her head.

Then she guided me to a seat. “Wait here. Don’t worry—I’ll take care of it.”

And she did. After a few phone calls, she found a nurse who said the scheduling staff was out of the office that day but would call me in the morning.

They did call, just now. My MRI will be on Friday. Just in time.


Whatever happened to “Out of office,” recordings, and “Please leave your message after the beep,”? Or, even better, “For immediate assistance, please call . . .” The cynic in me wonders if the outstanding snow that day—after weeks of lousy ski conditions—had something to do with the staffing shortfall.