Monday, September 10, 2007

650 Girls

Our girl A had a doctor’s appointment a few weeks ago. Several years ago, as in infant, she became very ill and had to have emergency surgery. Since then we have always kept an extra special eye on her health.

She has always been petite, and even early on she was projected to be a small girl, but we have been a bit concerned about her lack of weight gain lately. She’s a picky and light eater, and we have to encourage her constantly to finish her food. She seemed to have been making some progress, and this recent appointment was a check-up on her weight.

Meanwhile...our doctor’s office recently made a decision to pawn off the more routine work done by nurses to a less expensive group of workers they affectionately call the “650 girls.” These are young, inexperienced teenagers and temporary workers that get paid $6.50 an hour. One of these checked in A (used to be done by one of the nurses). The friendly 650 girl took A’s temperature, checked her blood pressure, weighed her in, recorded basic information, and led Michelle and A to a patient room to wait for the doctor. Michelle noticed that the girl seemed to be a bit unsure of what she was doing, and stumbled through the pre-appointment procedures.

The doctor came in and noted A’s wight loss over the last several months- about 5 pounds. She told Michelle she was concerned and ordered up some extensive blood work. About $700 worth of labs that should give us a more complete look at A’s health and identify any problems she might have.

The blood work came back, and the doctors office called. There is concern A might have something called Celiac disease. It’s a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate a protein called gluten, found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is found mainly in foods but may also be found in products we use every day, such as stamp and envelope adhesive, medicines, and vitamins. If she has it, it will completely change her diet and lifestyle.

The interesting thing, the doctor said, is that A only has 2 of the 5 symptoms (weight loss, and she's shorter than average), and one of the key symptoms- anemia- is not present. A’s iron level is fine which seems to indicate she has no problem absorbing nutrients. The doctor ordered a visit to a specialist and a rather invasive and expensive procedure to “rule it out.”

We know A is thin, but it just does not make sense that she is several pounds lighter than her younger sister- she just doesn’t look it. So, on a hunch, Michelle bought a new scale from Target. With the digital scale purchased and unpacked, the weigh-in began. According to the scale, A was actually 10 pounds heavier than the 650 girl had recorded. Michelle had a flash-back. She remembers seeing the metal bar on the doctors scale (there are bars for 100’s and 10’s and then that little sliding doohickey for 1’s) sitting on 50, not 40. So we think the pleasant and "inexpensive" 650 girl will cost our doctor a pretty penny when we send them the bill for A’s unnecessary blood work.

What a bunch of worry, stress and crap for nothing. Thank you very much.


Christa said...

Wow - that is just awful. I'm glad she doesn't have celiac, I have 2 little neices who have it, and it's definitely not convenient, difficult to find stuff to eat.

That's really strange that they hire such young gals...nurses still do all that where I go...hopefully that continues!

Christa said...

DigitalRich! What happened to you? Just wanted to check in - I've not been blogging much either....but you're much more regular than me! Hope everything's OK.

Liza on Maui said...

still busy?