My Time is No Longer My Own

This is what my world looks like right now.

Everything is out-of-focus – colorful, but fuzzy.

I’m talking both metaphorically and literally.

My time is no longer my own. I charge for my time at work, then I come home and donate my time to my family. I’m not complaining, mind you, it’s just an adjustment.

My days are one big furry mass of colorful snippets of conversations, expressions, impressions, thoughts, jokes, stressful moments … I spend most of my days desperately trying not to look like a fool.

No small feat, I assure you.

I’m getting better it, I think. The pieces of the puzzle are starting to fit (or I’m MAKING them fit), and I sort of “get” it now. Though I don’t handle NEARLY the number of patient check-outs that the other gals do, I am starting to help more and more and they assure me I am helping them not feel so overwhelmed themselves.

Every patient is different. Every patient needs something different. So every patient is a challenge and I learn something with each patient I help. I’m getting the hang of the software though and am getting faster navigating the different areas.

In case you’re wondering, or in case I haven’t told you, I’m a scheduler. I work at a clinic that houses ten neurosurgeons and it’s my job, along with three other gals, to make sure that these patients are scheduled, and set up, to take tests the doctors have ordered for them. It sounds simple, but I assure you, IT’S NOT.

It’s very involved and detailed. For instance, there are FIVE steps to checking out a patient. In fact, one of the gals I work with gave me this acronym to put on each patient’s chart so that I won’t forget to do something. PSNOB. Pronounced: P-SNOB.

P = pre-certification. I schedule patients for MRI’s, Cat scans (plain or with injections), injections and physical therapy. The MRI’s and Cat scans are EXPENSIVE tests and a lot of insurance companies require pre-certification for these tests. Since our doctors like to get paid (funny that), I have to contact the patient’s insurance company and go through the process of pre-approving the procedure before the patient is scheduled to come back and have the procedure. Sometimes this is easy and I can do it online – most times it’s time consuming and I end up spending 15 minutes on the phone with a company before I get what I need.

In short – they are time sucks. But necessary time sucks.

S – schedule. I have to schedule the patients not only for their procedures, but for their follow up appointments with the doctors. This could include follow up appointments to discuss their test results, or a post-op appointment to see how they are doing after surgery. (Thankfully, the nurses schedule surgeries).

N = notes. I have to make notes on every order I place or every appointment I schedule to remind the nurse and/or doctor what the patient is coming back for and what they need. A lot of times, I simply copy and paste the doctor’s orders into this area.

O = order. Whenever I schedule a patient for a test or a procedure, I have to place the order for that test or procedure. This means, I fill out the order with the patient’s diagnosis – which consists of codes that the doctors list on the patient’s summary. This has to be exact. Putting the wrong diagnosis on the order could be disastrous. I then fax the orders to a centralized “hub” at the main hospital and they farm the orders out to the correct facility. (We have an imaging facility right next door, but sometimes the procedures require medical intervention, so I have to schedule the procedure at the hospital. Or, the patient lives out of town and I have to schedule the procedure at a nearby facility or hospital. It’s NEVER cut and dried).

B = book. Every doctor has a black book. And every procedure that is scheduled has to be written in the black book so that the film guys downstairs can get the results of those tests together and ready for the doctor to look at before they have contact with the patient again.

Then, and ONLY THEN, am I done with that patient. In between making sure all of these steps have been done, I’m constantly being interrupted by patients checking out, voice mails that need to be answered (patients call in to cancel appointments), or faxes need to be sorted or I’m answering flags from the nurses (which is basically like an instant message system that is tied to the patient’s chart).

And did I mention I have to document EVERYTHING to cover my butt?

I do.

It’s crazy. But I love it. I honestly do. It’s SO FUN to shuffle all of those papers around and I’m kept so busy that I look up and what I perceive as fifteen minutes going by is actually HOURS. Time FLIES and I love that. I hate jobs where I’m twiddling my thumbs and watching the second hand on the clock.

I also really LIKE my co-workers. I was a little worried about getting along with them at first, but so far so good. *knock on wood* We seem to be bonding and though they’re all very different, I can handle the differences.

I only get 30 minutes for lunch and it’s all I can do to scarf something down and grab some coffee in that time period. I usually put my lunch box in the fridge and when it’s my turn to go to lunch, I grab my lunch and eat in my car. It gives me a chance to stretch my legs, listen to the radio and sort of decompress before I have to return to work and jump back into the crazy.

Tomorrow, I have to report to the main hospital to get a general check up. UGH. I have no idea what that will entail, but I will be late getting to work in the morning because I have to report there first. (Which reminds me, I need to send a reminder email to my boss about that).

In addition to all of this craziness, my eyes have been driving me NUTS. Because I’ve been so tired and it’s allergy season to boot, I’m having a little trouble seeing even WITH my reading glasses. And since I only need my reading glasses for the computer, I’m constantly putting them on, taking them off, or looking over them like a little old lady.

It’s really QUITE annoying.

I would love to go without them entirely, but that’s just not an option. I do think, because they are giving me such a hard time right now, that it might be time to get my eyes checked again.

Swell. Something else to add to my to-do list.

I feel like I’ve been sequestered from my family. I’m so busy that I don’t have time to check for text messages and though my family can call me at work and leave a voice mail, there’s really no telling when I’ll actually get around to listening to it. (Voice mails are pretty much the least of my worries). I think they’re handling the separation okay, but I do miss them. I still take Jazz to school in the mornings (My shift starts at 8:30), but Kevin picks him up every day. And if Jazz is going to tell us anything about his day, it’s going to be after school. I miss those “talks.”

I hope this job doesn’t drive a wedge between me and Kev. We’ve been pretty much inseparable these past several years and it feels weird not having him around. Though he swears he’s okay with it, I think he misses me. We’ll just have to make sure we spend time together.

It’s all about balancing the sacrifices we have to make. Right?

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Karen

Hi! My day job is a CMA in neurosurgery.. I'm a mom to two twenty-something sons. I've been married to the same man for 26 years. I have a lot to say about nothing. Lucky you.