Monday, June 4, 2012

Don't Get Sick in Hawaii

When we first moved to Hawaii I immediately went about trying to find a new doctor. You see I had numerous prescriptions I needed filled. Because even though I moved with prescriptions in hand, the state of Hawaii will not honor prescriptions for "controlled substances" from out of state doctors. Unfortunately this included sleep aids.

So I went about the task of finding a new doctor with diligence. Now you need to know that our new doctor would have pretty big shoes to fill, since our family had had the same doctor for the last 17 years. He delivered our children and treated our illnesses and injuries. {Insert shout out for Dr. Dee Christlieb of Ashland Family Practice! We miss you!}

When we moved here I was pleased to discover that we had Kaiser. I had never used Kaiser, but I thought that they had a fairly good reputation.  Boy was I wrong.  My first encounter of the Kaiser kind was a meet and greet of my new "Doctor" to establish care and give him the paper files I had brought with me from Oregon.  I was appalled at the interview. Kaiser offices in Hawaii are set up like this: a computer is set up with a chair for the doctor or nurse to input info into-- facing the opposite wall as the patient/customer seating.  My doctor sat with his back to me the entire consultation looking over his shoulder only occasionally to question a particular medication and my use of it. So lame.

So I know that I came from the most perfect of medical relationships, a doctor who knew everything about me and my family and cared about us on a personal level. But I was not prepared for Kaiser. What was particularly eye opening was the way the doctor would say things like I don't know if "they" would allow that... Always referring to Kaiser as "They" and implying that he had no control over my medical care, and that it was all decided by "Them". Creepy big brother crap, that I hoped was just this one doctor's perspective.

Needless to say we switched doctors. But we still had to stay with Kaiser until open enrollment. I decided I would drive all the way to Mililani for my medical care.


When I stepped inside this fairly modern building I was slapped in the face by the pungent aromas of Asian cuisine.

What?  Really?

There were folding tables set up with trays and trays of food.  What the heck?  Piles of chicken and other meats, noodles and soups all sitting out and waiting to be sold while sick people and their illness walked by trailing their germs behind them.

Yuck. Gross.  Are you serious?  Is this even safe?

And if I didn't feel sick when I walked in I sure do now.

When my doctor suggested exploratory surgery over an MRI for my injured knee, I was gone.

I remember saying, "I don't want to get sick in Hawaii." I imagined being elderly and  having to battle cancer or some other disease here, in a place where medical care seemed archaic, and it really panicked me. This is not the U.S this is like living in Mexico.

My new bout with illness (or suspected illness) has put me a little more at ease. Though I was led astray by an overzealous dermatologist, my rheumatologist had put me at ease. And yes I think my new general practitioner may make the cut as well. Only time will tell, I'm not in any kind of hurry to find out.

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