I spent the past several days waiting for my pain doctor to call me back. I left a message every business day for 4 days and somehow (<cough> bad nurse) they kept getting ignored . Yesterday I finally received a call back from my doctor—hallelujah—and I wanted to share with you some tactics that did and didn't work. Not surprisingly, the pain clinic operates similarly to the RE's—wish I'd figured that out earlier.
When you need your doctor to call you:
1. Staring at your phone does not make it ring. I've practiced this technique long enough to know with certainty that it doesn't work. Some people learned this in high school, but apparently I was not one of them.
2. Thinking about the phone sometimes makes it ring. True story: one day when I was driving home from work, I wondered when my RE would call and she called that very minute. WEIRD. The trick to making this work is thinking constantly about when they'll call; your obsessing and their calling back are bound to coincide eventually.
3. If your cell does not get reception in your house, you're screwed. My husband and I are about 10 years behind in cell phone technology. We use prepaid plans and I don't have a smartphone, and our phones are primarily for emergencies. I felt all superior about this in a hippie, "I'm so present and in the moment that I don't need technology" kind of way until all this pain shit hit the fan. It turns out that giving out three phone numbers can confuse health care professionals and result in your missing their calls. Before you miss their calls, you will wander around your house trying to find the place with the most bars, leaving your phone in that place, and racing to it when it rings.
4. Call early in the day. Messages stop being retrieved at 3 pm and even earlier on Fridays in my clinics. Learned this one the hard way when I left a message at 3:02 on a Thursday. Turned out my doc didn't work on Fridays, so it was a long wait for a return call.
5. When all else fails, page the doctor on call. But don't expect to get connected on the first try. You might have many setbacks before you speak to a doctor, including the hospital operator hanging up on you, the doctor not answering the page, or the wrong doctor being paged (I don't need to speak to an ophthamologist now—probably one of the few specialists I have no questions for). Paging the doctor on call is your ace in the hole. Don't overuse it.
After 4 business days of leaving messages and staring at the phone, plus a weekend of pain and sulking because I knew I wouldn't get a call then, my doctor finally called back and adjusted my meds. It took paging the resident on call and asking him if there was anything else I could be doing to get a call back. I'm so done with the pain clinic.
Update: the triage nurse left me a nasty voicemail this morning. Sounds like she was reamed out by the doctor so she called to "apologize," which consisted of her telling me that I must have done something wrong when I left the messages and/or lied about how many times I've called. She checks her messages frequently and always follows up that day. Riiiiight.