On Monday, my wife and I had our appointment with the reproductive endocrinologist. If we purchase our sperm and conduct our inseminations “under the direction of” a doctor, it’s mostly covered by our health insurance. However, in order to inseminate “under the direction of” a doctor, we first have to have a doctor. I received the referral from my regular gynecologist, whom I love, so I had high hopes for Dr. P. I made the appointment with Dr. P about 3 or 4 weeks ago. Because we don’t know what sperm banks Dr. P’s office works with, we have been waiting until this initial consultation appointment to begin really reviewing any donor profiles or whatnot. So the appointment was important to us, because it signalled the beginning of our search for our donor — which we now have just three months to complete.
It took us about a half an hour on Sunday night to fill out all the paperwork Dr. P’s office had sent to us. We showed up at 10:30, right on time, at Dr. P’s office, which was about 25 minutes away from our house. I handed in the paperwork, and we sat down to wait. My wife and I each pulled out a book and started reading.
Right around the time I noticed I was hungry, my wife looked up from her book. “It’s been 50 minutes. Maybe you should just go see what’s what.” No wonder I was hungry. It was approaching lunchtime. I walked up to the counter and asked if they had any sense how much longer we would have to wait.
“Well, have they taken your vitals yet?”
“No, we really haven’t done anything. Just waited. It’s been almost an hour.”
A few minutes later, my name was called. They took my blood pressure, temperature, and weighed me. Then they sent me back out into the waiting room. At 11:35, I looked at my wife and said, “If we aren’t called by 11:45, I think we should leave. An hour and 15 minutes is too long to wait. We can’t be doing this every time we come for an appointment.” We weren’t called.
At 11:45, I walked up to the receptionist. “Could you please refund my copay? We are going to go, we don’t want to wait anymore.”
The first receptionist looked at the second receptionist. “Do you know where Dr. P is? Is she with a patient?”
“No,” said the second receptionist. “She’s in her office with the door shut.”
“Wait just one minute,” said the first receptionist. “I’ll go get her.”
“That’s fine,” I said, “but we’re going to leave anyway. We don’t want to wait anymore.”
After the first receptionist went to the back, the second receptionist said, “She does this all the time.” I looked at my wife. My wife looked at me.
“This is our first appiontment,” I said finally.
“Really? Your consult? I can’t believe she’s made you wait this long for your consult.” Hm. Me either.
At 5 minutes to 12, Dr. P emerged from the back. We shook hands, and she said she could see us now. “Thank you,” I said, “but we’re not staying. We don’t think this is going to work for us. We want to see a doctor who has time for us.”
“I have time for you now,” Dr. P protested.
“Thank you, but I meant more generally. We want someone who has room to take us on. We’re really just waiting for our copay to be refunded.”
“I’m sorry, but other patients were late this morning, and it’s made me a little backed up.” Now, if Dr. P had said that she had a family emergency and had been on the phone for an hour, or that she had a patient emergency, or some other type of extenuating circumstances, I might have decided to go ahead and have the meeting. But I just do not believe that her patients between 9 am and 10:30 we so late that she was running 90 minutes behind schedule. And frankly, I have a problem with people who choose not to take responsibility for their own actions. I thought blaming it on other patients was a little bit underhanded. So I politely thanked her again, and signed the refund slip for my copay.
As we were getting our coats together, at noon, Dr. P called the patient who had been waiting after me — the 11 am appointment. But that person never responded, because it turns out they had walked out too.
I’m extremely disappointed that we have to now find another doctor, and get a new appointment, and sort out all the paperwork, and wait all over again, before we can get started. But I am extremely happy that we will not spend 90 minutes a month waiting for Dr. P to emerge from her office to see us. This is supposed to be a positive experience, and waiting for Dr. P was anything but.
And I really proud of myself that I held my head high when we walked out of Dr. P’s office, and, in fact, made it all the way into the parking lot before the tears of disappointment came.