Opinion: Senior speaks up against alleged medical mistreatment
By Kathryn Mora
Recently I visited the medical center near where I live to have my right hand, knee, and foot examined. My aim was to have X-rays ordered and get referrals there rather than traveling to Fontana via Metrolink to see my primary doctor.
I waited in the reception area with other gray-haired people. Then a nurse called my name and led me into the office. “Put your backpack over there,” she said, pointing to a table. It was my first time in this office, so I took a quick peek around as I walked to the table. “I said, put your backpack there,” the nurse then ordered, sounding like a drill sergeant, adding, “And go faster. There’s not a lot of time. Now come here and sit down.”
I said, “I do not like the way you’re speaking to me.” She stared at me with a look of surprise and said, “Please sit on this chair so I can take your vitals. Thank you.” Vitals recorded, she led me to another room. “Please sit down in that chair,” she says pointing to the other side of the room. “Thank you.”
Minutes later a nurse practitioner entered the room. “Hi sweetie,” she said. I would have preferred, “Hello Kathryn, I’m the nurse practitioner. Nice to meet you.” She sat down at a desk and asked, “Why are you here, today?” I repeated the information I had given her colleague and told her I’d been having problems with my right hand, knee, and foot and would like them examined, X-rays ordered, and referrals.
Looking irritated, the nurse practitioner rolled her eyes and put her elbows on her desk and her head in her hands. I asked, “Is there a problem?” She said, “No, there’s no problem,” though her disrespectful, unfriendly treatment continued.
Not long after the nurse practitioner said, “The problem with your hand is you have tremors because old people have tremors. And your voice has tremors too.” She reached this diagnosis quickly, without examining my hand or wrist or referring to X-rays, since they had not been ordered. I explained years of writing on the computer had resulted in overuse of my hands and wrists. She disregarded this information, and again said my problem was age-related tremors.
She refused to examine my knee because it was an old injury. I wondered, is it because I’m an old lady that my knees don’t matter anymore? After looking at my medical record she said, “Osteoporosis is causing your problems.” I was interested in exploring further what had been causing my problems, so I shared my understanding that my osteoporosis is mainly in my right hip, and asked how that would affect my right hand, knee, and foot. No response.
She read my vitals and noticed my blood pressure was higher than normal. “Your blood pressure needs to be retested in two weeks,” she said. That sounded positive, but I suspected it was higher because of the way her nurse treated me before she took my blood pressure. I shared this. Her response was, “Oh, that’s just her way, but she means well.”
As the appointment came to an end, I again brought up the past stress on my hand and wrist. With little examination and no X-rays, the nurse practitioner then said I had tendonitis and ordered a brace. No other discussion followed.
Displeased with my experience, I scheduled an appointment with my primary doctor in Fontana so that I could have my hand, knee, and foot properly examined. X-rays were ordered and I was given referrals. Each of the referral doctors treated me with respect and I’m now on my way to healing.
The nurse practitioner had both given me the wrong diagnosis for my hand, and the wrong brace.
My life moves faster with each birthday. However, I still have time to continue creating and living dreams and have used my voice to file a grievance.
I hope this empowers others who have also celebrated many birthdays to use their voice to take better care of themselves.