Friday, September 3, 2010

Skype coulda saved me

I've been making quite a few doctors' appointments lately, (just for check-ups) and most of them have been done online. Fabulous. Instead of being put on hold, and then lost when I was put through to the appointment-making person, I can look through the available slots and pick one.

Last winter, when everyone was panicking about Swine Flu our pediatricians' web site had all the latest advice, updated daily. I'm sure this was in part, because 90% of their calls were of the should I - shoudn't I? variety, but it was much appreciated all the same.

There's a great commercial on American TV with actress Ellen Paige visiting her doctor, only to be told by the receptionist that he's in Copenhagen. No matter - he can still see his patients. Watch it here.

How fabulous would that be?  Unfortunately in the USA, there's so much liability that Skypey diagnoses are unlikely, but my goodness it would be helpful on a few occasions. Like many people I've discovered the odd bump, gristly growth or dodgy looking freckle. Obviously I get straight on the phone, only to be told in most cases, that I can come in next week. While I usually know that it won't be serious, it would be a lot easier on the nerves if someone could take a look at "it" online and tell me that it's a wart on the back of my calf (lovely). I'd still have to go in and have it burnt off with that nasty liquid gas stuff, but at least the four days of waiting wouldn't be spent chewing my fingernails off and mentally distributing my jewelry.

And if my lovely vet had joined the online ranks, I could have saved everyone a lot of time and me a very red face yesterday.

My neighbour and I were chatting over a lovely glass of Pinot G the other night. She was stroking the dog, when she suddenly invited me over to "look at this". Like any mother, my stomach did a funny flippy thing - mainly because the accountant, insurance-hating Ball & Chain had just done some huge calculation and deduced that pet insurance "would cost us more in the long run".

Anyway, there was this strange growth behind her ear, (the dog's that is). She didn't flinch when I squeezed it which gave me some comfort. Then I found one behind the other ear which gave me even more comfort since "sinister" things don't tend to grow in perfect symmetry. To be honest, I might have let it go but my neighbour kept insisting that I would never forgive myself should the dog drop dead next month.

I rang the vet, sheepishly described the "things" only to be told that I would have to come in. Pah! Given that the rather gorgeous   vet barely glanced at the "things" to diagnose them, a Skypey appointment would have sufficed. At least they didn't charge me, and he did resist the urge to suggest occasional trips to the groomers to avoid -

.....matted hair balls.

How embarrassing.


  1. Our dogs are being constantly fiddled with at the backs of their ears, matted hair balls are always being cut off.

    Skype could answer a few questions but there's nothing like a good doctor to give you a prescription that you don't really need!

    CJ xx

  2. I'm sure they piloted something similar in the Scottish highlands. Must ask husband.

    Rather like the idea that he could stay at home and do some jobs for me whilst logging-on to the computer to see a succession of 'funny rashes'.

  3. This really did make me laugh out loud!
    I think you are right about symmetrical lumps/bumps/ swellings not being any cause for concern. Phew what a relief!
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  4. I had my first trip to New York this year and the TV adverts scared the bejeesus out of me... they all seemed to be about the terrible things that could go wrong in your life if you didn't have the right amount of insurance cover... no mention of hair balls though!

  5. I had a freckle that suddenly turned bumpy last year. Got an appt. very quickly with my nurse practitioner, who referred me to a dermatologist. I had to wait over 2 months for that appt.!!! By the time I got there, said freckle had reverted to normal and I felt very silly even going to the appt.!

  6. It does make you feel embarrassed, doesn't it, when you should have figured that out for yourself.

  7. What a brilliant idea! NHS Direct would be so much more helpful if they could see things (mostly you get the advice "go and see your GP"). I'll suggest it on my next NHS feedback form!

  8. Ha Ha - also wish could book apptmts online - VG idea - far too this century for the NHS Lx

  9. balls to that.
    of the knotted hair variety of course.
    in our doc's practice you need to book an appointment to phone for an appointment. and i'm only 1/2 joking. it's pathetic.

  10. Now you see, squeezing strange growths behind a dog's ear - a virtual vet couldn't do that.

  11. Nick - almost read your post until I saw a big fat worm. Will have to wait util my lunch digests!!!

    Clippy - I know. It takes about 3 months to see my OB for my annual check up, but they only schedule about 2 months ahead.

    AA - I have just had that too. A dark freckle that I've been told to keep an eye on. Started playing up but I decided I'd give it a couple of weeks (it's calmed down again) because I know it will take so long to get in to see someone.

    Chris S - am now going to check my insurance in case I get a hairball. (Which is not beyond the realms of possibility with this hairy mutt.)

  12. Ohhh, matted hair balls? Nice.

    I love the idea of booking appointments online and therefore avoiding the guffaws when I ask the doctor's receptionist if I can have an appointment within the next two days.

  13. Could have been worse on the hairball front. Great friend of ours in NY rushed her puppy to the vet to insist he check the tumours that the dog was developing in a sensitive area. Vet had difficulty keeping a straight face as he pointed out the tumours were actually the dog's testicles.

  14. Eew. I hope grooming habits for your family are a bit more sincere. ;)


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