Doctor Call and helpline

January 12, 2016 at 10:27 am | Posted in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | 4 Comments

Well I’ll give ’em that, he called very quickly… but he started off slightly fixated on the bloody helpline. I explained the problem and got, ‘Do you see the rheumatology nurse regularly?’ I said, ‘My next appointment is May.’ He said, ‘Yes, but what about the helpline?’ I said I hadn’t spoken to them this time but their usual response was, ‘Call your GP’ so, after checking my blood tests from the end of December and finding them ‘slightly elevated’ which was news to me, he agreed to a pred taper again, slightly grudgingly, ‘but please do call the helpline nurses. They are the experts in this.’

So I’m afraid I called the helpline and left the sort of message that guarantees no one will bother to call me back. Oops! It wasn’t deliberate but I’m in pain, tired, headachy and generally riled! I phoned up and got the usual, ‘There’s nobody here. I’m bored to death. You can tell by the tone of my voice, can’t you? If you really must speak to one of us please leave your telephone number, hospital number, date of birth and name and if you’re really, really lucky, someone might get back to you in the next couple of days.’ OK, OK, that’s not EXACTLY what it said, but honestly, it was ‘within 48 hours’ and I kid you not about the instantly recognizable tone of voice either! So I left a message along the lines of, ‘This is Polly Penguin, hospital number xyz, day time telephone 01234 567891,  date of birth blah blah, I’m having a flare … I’ve contacted the GP and they’re giving me a pred taper but they’ve told me to contact you so I am. Good bye.’ Oh dear. Yes, I regret it now! It pays to stay on the good side of these people … but hey, I won’t hear from them I don’t suppose, and I won’t see them till May when they’ll have forgotten all about it.

If you remember my last brush with the helpline, you’ll know why I feel this way – but it MIGHT have changed since then, even if the phone message hasn’t.



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  1. Hi, Penguin!

    I’m sorry you’re coping with such a bad flare (set of flares?). It is indeed difficult to walk when the joints go wonky on both legs. I’m glad your grumpy doctor agreed to the prednisone taper, though. I’ve never used one on an RD flare, only for bursitis, but I hear they’re quite effective. Fingers crossed that this one will knock that flare out completely!

    I get your frustration with your medical system. As you know, I get my care through the Veterans Administration here, and it’s as close to a universal health care system as I’m likely to get in my lifetime. Overall, I’m very happy with them, but there are the little glitches, such as those you mentioned with your Help Line. I guess that sort of thing is inevitable in any large, lumbering bureaucracy. (Not defending them, just noting it with a sigh…) 😉

    Here’s hoping that flare gets gone quickly. Sending you a warm hug from across the Pond. 😀

  2. Thanks Wren – already on the mend, I’m delighted to say – and quite agree about large, lumbering bureaucracies! Never mind, at least I got the medication on the day I rang the doc, so can’t complain about that at all! And boy is it helping! A gentle hug back to you too! 🙂

  3. Polly: Don’t know whether to be happy or sad! Happy you had such a nice holiday and your RA took a break. Sad that it flared so badly, but glad you got the pred taper and that it’s working! As you know I’ve been having insurance battles, but I’m not sure I wouldn’t take those over the bureaucracy you need to deal with. May we all have a healthy 2016! Hugs.

  4. Hi Carla, I want to say ‘Let’s all be happy – I’m Pollyanna’ but the knee is a LOT worse today and it’s snowing so I’m struggling to say that really!:-) At least there’s an honesty to your insurance lot, none of them want to pay out and that’s quite open. Here it’s ‘You must speak to the hospital’ with the hidden subtext ‘we’d rather they paid for your steroids out of their budget’ and vice versa! 🙂 Hugs to you and here here to a healthy 2016!

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