Thursday, May 24, 2007

Improved Seething Skills

I let out my first top-of-my-lungs scream today when working on our paperwork. We have a couple of workers in our backyard today building a deck so who knows what they thought was going on inside the house.

As I write this, I have to concentrate on lifting my eyebrows and stretching out my mouth to get rid of the furrowed brows, cinched mouth look of a raging woman.

Here’s the low-down. On Friday, I left a detailed and apologetic message with my doctor’s nurse, explaining that either the results of my AIDS test or a letter from the doctor stating that I am free of AIDS needed to be faxed to our home study agency. (I explained the mishap requiring this extra step in an earlier blog entry). I waited all week for this to be sent, wanting to call on Tuesday but restraining myself so as not to nag.

Finally, today I decided to call to check on things. I asked to speak to my doctor’s nurse, and the receptionist told me that I could leave a message through voice-mail since she’d need to pull my chart. I explained I had left a message almost a week ago and no one had called back and that I wanted to talk to the nurse.

I said it nicely, I promise.

A few minutes later, the nurse got on the phone without saying who she was or any ‘hello’, no niceties at all, making sure she let me know from the very begining how much I was putting her out and possibly ruining her day.

I explained quickly what I needed, but she wasn’t listening. She was flipping through my chart. All she heard was something about a fax needing to be sent. So she says, “Oh okay, I see here where your document was faxed on May 15.”

I explained AGAIN that this was not what needs to be faxed and told her that I was trying to avoid launching into the whole saga of these documents. She said, “Oh, no, you don’t need to explain all of that, just what do you need?”

Well, I had told her three times already what I needed, so I was getting well-practiced in being as succinct as humanly possible, so as not to take up any more of her time.

She STILL DID NOT LISTEN. She said, “Okay, we’ll re-fax this document and it’ll be done before the end of the day.” I could have assumed she had heard exactly what needed to be faxed and that it would all be okay, but instead I said, “Before I go, let me just make sure the right thing is being faxed...”

She cut me off before I could say, “Only the results of the AIDS test.”

Apparently I made her mad by trying to make sure the right thing would be sent (does she think that all this is FUN for me?), so she took out the document and READ THE ENTIRE THING THROUGH TO ME in rapid fire beginning with, “This is what we’re going to fax.”

It was at this point that my heart started pounding and my ears turned red, always the truest sign of Lori getting mad. As a teacher, my students always could look at the color of my ears to know when they'd probably crossed the line. The nurse was outdone with me from the beginning and was now punishing me by making me listen to the entire document.

There was no slowing her down, no interrupting her. Believe me, I tried. And what gets me about all this is that she was treating me like this was all MY fault when she was the one who decided to ignore the succinct voice-mail that I left last Friday. She heard it and made the decision that it was not important to her. So when I call nearly a week later and call her on the fact that she ignored my request, she gets mad.

And what gets me even more is how apologetic I’d been through this whole ordeal. Even though it was the doctor’s fault for forgetting to check the ‘no’ beside the AIDS question, I’d taken responsibility for it every time I had to talk to the staff, saying something about how I forgot to make sure the doctor checked that box. Up until today, I’d been planning on sending flowers or a plate of fresh cookies or something to show appreciation to the office staff for being helpful. Maybe I still should, just with a caveat that the nurse is not allowed to look at the flowers and can’t eat a single cookie because she was a insert-your-favorite-word-here to me.

So how did the conversation end?

As she was nearing the end of her dramatic reading, I said, “You didn’t have to read the whole thing to me” and then I launched into my own long explanation. I was trying to avoid this. I really was. I didn’t want to have to explain the whole saga to her, but she was asking for it. When I got to the end, I started hearing little “Ohh”s and “Now I get it”s from her. Big roll of the eyes from me. She even said, “I’m so confused about what is needed.” Well, had you been listening the FOUR OTHER TIMES I explained it, you wouldn’t be here now having to listen to this, now would you?

Once she finally got it, she told me that she can’t fax over any lab results without my signing a release form. Sigh. So this will be my fourth time into this office, my personal hell-on-earth, simply to sign my name. If the nurse had actually listened to my message last Friday, I could have been in there on Monday to sign this form and all would be taken care of by now.

So what gets me most about all of this is not the snags in the paperwork, not having to go for a fourth time into the office, not having to make these phone calls. What gets me is being talked down to, being treated like an idiot, like someone hell-bent on ruining someone’s day when I’d gone out of my way to be succinct, apologetic and polite to the whole staff through the entire process.

The wonderful staff at Gladney, when they sent the “Welcome to our Program” email with all the manuals and details, included a note of encouragement at the top of the email. It made me cry. Here’s an excerpt:

One - if you stick through the frustrations and possible changes, we will find you the child that is meant to be part of your family.
Two - you will not be happy with this process until your child has come home.

And when you worry and become frustrated with the paperwork or the wait or the many number of little details involved in adopting from Ethiopia, remember to be thankful that you have the opportunity to worry about the small problems, because that means someone else is worrying about the big ones for you.

It’s wonderfully uplifting to keep these things in mind. I might recommend though that they add something to the pep talk about being patient not just with the wait, paperwork, and details but also with the people out there who are less than helpful, the people like this nurse I dealt with today because honestly, I was ready to rail into her.

As is, I got some extra practice today on my quiet seething skills. If I were a more mature person, I guess, it would be easier for me to let go of having someone be so blatantly impatient with me. There's nothing like having someone treat you like an idiot when they're the one who is wrong and not listening. I'm sure I will be able to let go of it. See, even now as I finish this blog, if you could see me, you could see that my face isn't as squinched up anymore and Ted pointed out that my ears are now only a dark shade of pink.

It just gets me thinking about the importance of treating people with respect, no matter how impatient you may get. Because unless you're God, there's always the chance that you might be the one who is wrong and misunderstanding something, the way this nurse was today.

So coming up is my chance to show respect this afternoon when I go sign this paper. It's tempting to make my complaint known to someone, to attempt to bring justice to my poor, hurting ego. The trick will be not just to quietly seethe but to genuinely be kind, the way Jesus would probably have me do. It'd be awfully tempting to nix that higher standard though...


Anonymous said...


First, I love your blog. You are a wonderful and funny writer. Let me just say, you had WAY more patience with the nurse than I probably would have. I think it is great you are sharing your journey both to inspire others and just let all of us share in the amazing process. I have always felt like I could never really understand what it feels like to be pregnant since I have not experienced that, but through your blog I feel like I can understand what it is like to be a "pregnant" adoptive Mom.


Pattie VZ

The Elliott Family said...

I am cracking up...we had the almost exact same thing happen with our doctor's office. If you just do it when you are supposed to, then you don't have to deal with us! I tell you what, if I worked at a doctor's office and had an adoptive parent that needs some stuff to do it ASAP and get 'em goin'...

BTW, I have done the pregnant thing now biologically and adoptive, and adoptive is waaaaay worse in it's pains. They may not be physical, but they are more intense, in every other sense....well, maybe it is physical sometimes...esp. when you get the good heaving cry going, your heart really does ache.

Adoptive moms really get shortchanged in the feeling special category. Society really needs an education...



Amy B. said...

It is encouraging to read your blog. You seem, even in difficult circumstances, to hold to the grace of God. Some people are so hard to be graceful with, but it is good to read of people that try to implement it when they can. I try to show the same grace that I know God affords me on a daily basis, but sometimes it is hard not to want to climb through the phone and grab arrogant and obnoxious people. I need to keep working on my grace offering:)

Amy said...

ugh. frustrating experience. I am so glad you have a blog and that I can watch you guys go through the process and bring home your bambino! Can't wait to read more!