I have now finished all 33 doctor visits for 2021, (unless I get injured playing tennis this coming Thursday.) Anyone who wants to know what I’ve been doing in my retirement now knows that I’ve been donating my time and body for the enrichment of the health-care industry.
All this leaves a massive collection of my data hanging out there in cyberspace and on various computers hither and yon. The good thing is, I can now get on the internet and read things about my own medical conditions, tests, and treatments. This supposedly will make me a more responsible partner in my own medical care, a good idea if I could actually understand what I'm staring at. While I can read Greek and Hebrew, and even understand a few words of Chinese, I’m mostly baffled when encountering the abbreviations and terminology of my medical records.
For example: My file notes that I went in this past week to get my HVI Echo Card. I had no idea what this meant. My first thought was that HVI might stand for “His Virility Index.” (Even though I’m slightly past my mid-life crisis, I still have feelings!) I was wondering how high my HVI score would need to be in order to get my “card.” Would it be a credit card? A membership card? A congratulatory Christmas card?
But alas, the whole thing turned out to merely be an echocardiogram on my heart. It took me all morning, three pokes to get the IV in the right place, and a 12 minute dash on an uphill treadmill. In the end, it turns out my heart and vascular system is just fine, which leaves me eager to improve that other HVI score, the one that lives on in my imagination.
But my online medical records do not stop there. They explain why the echocardiogram was ordered in the first place. Of course, they do not use plain English, they use abbreviations. Under “Reason for Test” they list three things: abnormal EKG, activity intolerance, and SOB.
This, of course, insulted me. I was outraged. Just because some doctor thought I was an SOB I had to spend a whole morning in the hospital getting jabbed by a nurse and running nowhere on an irritating machine. Who’s really the SOB here?
Is it possible to get SOB expunged from my medical records, or will that stay with me the rest of my life? I’m afraid it may even keep me out of a nursing home someday, if the time ever comes that my family needs a break from me (or I need a break from them.) Is there any legal recourse I have here?
I tried to call the hospital, saying I wanted to dispute the charges, but they put me on hold and connected me to the financial office. The finance office said they could adjust the bill but not the doctor’s diagnosis, thus getting me nowhere.
I looked at the other charges against me to see if I needed to dispute those also. As for the abnormal EKG, I’ve had a screwy EKG since I was in my twenties. After open heart surgery at the age of 24 (for an electrical problem) the lines and peaks and valleys still didn’t look like everyone else’s. “Your Honor, my EKG could only be abnormal if it was normal. I rest my case.”
As for the “activity intolerance,” I plead ‘not guilty.’ Sure, I’m not all that sweet-tempered when Jie tells me to get off my rocking chair and get working on her ‘honey-do’ list. And I admit that I hate going to the gym, which I do three times a week anyway. I even see my body trainer once a week. Corey’s a really nice guy, even though I hate him. If he’d just let me sit in a rocking chair and read a book for an hour, he’d be the best bloke in the world though. Last week I was a few minutes late getting to our session. So I texted him and told him to start the sets without me, that I’d take over from him when I got there. As I was walking in the gym I checked my messages and discovered that he’d texted back, “Nice try!”
But I don’t think the doctor got the “activity intolerance” from Corey. I must have been whining last fall about something respiratory related. Perhaps allergies or congestion were leaving me more worn out than usual that week. More likely, I’d been really bad at tennis the night before and was making some sorry excuse for myself. I had to open my big mouth and now I’m branded.
But it was the SOB thing that really got to me. I called my nice friend (the rest of my friends aren’t really all that nice.) My one nice friend tried to assure me that SOB maybe didn’t stand for what I thought it did. (The rest of my friends wouldn't stop laughing and saying "Amen!")
So I looked on the internet to see what else SOB could mean. Senate Office Building. (not applicable) Soggy on Bottom. (that’s more humiliating than the other meaning of SOB) Supporter of Bush…Biden…Barak… (none of the doctor’s business) Smelling of Booze. (don’t drink) Slide Over Baby. (only heard from men who are trying to compensate for low HVI score) South Bend, Indiana Amtrak station code. (Why should we vote for Mayor Pete if he couldn’t get that changed?) Sexually Oriented Business. (uh…don’t think so) Shortness of Breath. (Ah, come to think of it, maybe I did use that as an excuse the night I really embarrassed myself at tennis…)
As I’m completing today’s post, I’m still on the phone with my doctor trying to find out what SOB means. Actually I’m on hold. And the longer I wait, the more I think I can feel another episode of SOB coming on…
Peace, joy, and goodwill to you all...