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Back in November, about a week before Thanksgiving, my son came down with a chest cold that included a nasty cough. Within a week I had the cough. I treated it with a mucus reliever, cough drops and vaporub.

My cough kept worsening throughout December. I was up most of the night coughing and was coughing so hard and forcefully I’d begun gagging. I was pulling muscles in my chest from coughing so hard. I’d even begun retching and had produced thick, clear mucus. I was using my rescue inhaler every 2 or 3 hours, as it had been prescribed to use every 2-4 hours as needed for cough.

I was able to get in to see my doctor. While she didn’t hear any wheezing in my lungs, she concluded that it was probably caused by my asthma. She prescribed a steroid for 11 days and more mucus relief, continued use of cough drops and vaporub. She told me when I was feeling 100% she’d order an x-ray to see what my lungs look like when I’m well. I had an appointment scheduled for early February.

About two weeks before my February appointment, the doctor’s office called to say they needed to reschedule. (They had already rescheduled my husband once previously.) They wanted to reschedule both my husband and I, we had back to back appointments on the same afternoon. They didn’t have another set of appointments available back to back, or even on the same day, or in the same month. They scheduled my husband for late in March and me in early April.

Two Mondays ago I was hurting so badly, having only been sleeping for approximately 2-3 hours a night, coughing all throughout the day and night, gagging and retching so hard, it hurt to move. I was exhausted. I took my powerchair on the city bus (something I hate to do because it’s such an involved process getting on, being strapped in, moving other riders from the area where a wheelchair can be secured, etc.) and went to the ER. I left my house at 12:40, got the bus at 12:57 and arrived at the ER at 1:15. At approximately 2:00 I was taken into triage, checked my BP, pulse, etc. and explained why I was there. I was sent back out to the waiting room.

At 6:15 I was taken back to an exam suite where two nurses checked my blood oxygen level, took my temp, BP, pulse and listened to my chest. They told me they didn’t hear any wheezing and that my blood oxygen level was 100% – not something they would expect to see if the issue was asthma related.

A doctor came in about five minutes later and had a quick listen. She looked in my ears, at my throat and in my ears. She immediately informed me that it appeared I had chronic sinusitis. She saw fluid behind my left ear and my throat was irritated. She informed me that the previous treatment prescribed by my doctor would not have had any affect on sinusitis. She prescribed an antibiotic and suggested taking Coricidin HBP, continuing the cough drops and vaporub, but also added Flonase nasal spray. The antibiotic was to be used for 14 days. She suggested following up with my doctor to see if changing my asthma inhaler might help.

I arrived home around 7:00. My husband ran to the pharmacy to have my prescription filled.

On Wednesday last week, I ran out of my blood pressure medication and my fluid pill. I called the pharmacy’s automated refill number and discovered that my blood pressure medication didn’t have any refills. The pharmacy offered to contact the doctor’s office for a refill.

Last Friday the doctor’s office called and wanted to reschedule my husband’s appointment again, saying a family emergency had come up, which was the same excuse they used the last two times they rescheduled us. It’s important to understand that my husband is diabetic and requires blood work and medication checks at regular intervals. Earlier that morning, my husband stopped by the pharmacy to pick up my medication. The fluid pill was there, but not the blood pressure medication. They indicated they’d not heard back from the doctor’s office yet and to try back later. They would fax the request in again.

I called my doctor’s office to see what was holding up the prescription and they indicated they’d not received any fax requesting refills for me. I gave them the info off the bottle and they said they’d take care of it. Later, Friday night we were able to pick up the medication, to my relief, as I’d only had enough medication until Saturday (thus, why I called for refills on Wednesday).

After 4 months I’m finally starting to get some limited relief. I’m still coughing, still experiencing a sinus headache, still dealing with pulled muscles and a sore throat, but the gagging is waning, as is the retching. I’m sleeping a little bit more, but still waking in the night to coughing spells.

I’d like someone to explain to me what good it is to have a primary care physician if you can never get scheduled to see them? If you end up having to go to the ER because you can’t see your doctor? What good is having insurance if your doctor only wants to run tests when you’re 100%, rather than when you’re ill to figure out what’s making you ill?

I pay $10 for an office visit co-pay with my insurance, but $75 co-pay to be seen in the ER.

My doctor’s office cancels your appointment if you’re more than 15 minutes late for an appointment and if you are late three times (regardless of the reason) they drop you as a patient, but they can cancel appointments 4 times in 8 months and there’s nothing you can do about it.

My husband and I both take medications that are considered ‘life sustaining.’ How can they justify cancelling appointments over and over again, pushing appointments back by months, when they need to be monitoring medications?

Our health care system is clearly broken. Patient care doesn’t seem to be a priority by anyone’s standards. Making sure they get paid certainly is. Before I left the ER they wanted to know how I intended to pay the $75 co-pay.

It’s incredibly frustrating! I’m dealing with constant fatigue, feeling completely worn out. I experienced side effects from the steroid I was on and from the antibiotic as well. I can’t wait to see what the doctor will have to say when I see her on April 5.