I met the eye doctor the week before Draikaiden was released from the hospital. I watched the exam he does. It’s not something I ever want to see again. I’m one of those moms who wants to take all the pain for my babies and I literally cried during his exam. His eyes are numbed, thankfully, but it’s still one of the most unpleasant things a newborn, or anyone for that matter, could go through. Just to give you a clue, they have to see the back of his eyeball. Yeah. Now run with that visual.
So, during this exam the eye doctor tells me that he needs to continue to see the baby EVERY week even after he is released from the NICU. I said it probably was going to be difficult to do weekly given our location of 3 hours north of Vegas, but we could probably do biweekly. He was hesitant, but agreed to that.
So, we made our first visit out of the hospital, waited in the waiting room for almost an hour and a half, me with ALL THREE MONKEYS along with at least 15 other sets of parents and their babies and toddlers, got the exam done, and were scheduled to come back in 2 weeks.
Two weeks came, we couldn’t afford the trip. I called to cancel this appointment as well as 3 others. I got a return call from a receptionist in the eye doctor’s office. The conversation is as follows. I am changing names for obvious reasons of incrimination even though I think everyone should know who this eye doctor is.
Her: Is this Mrs. LaRue?
Her: This is Mabel from Dr. Lyle’s office. You needed to reschedule for Draikaiden?
Me: Yes. We won’t be able to make it down to Vegas this week, so how about next Friday?
Her: OK, What time would you like to bring him in?
Me: Anything around 1 pm?
Her: Oh, he only sees babies until 10 am.
Me: What??? Really?? OK, so I guess 10 am it is.
Her: OK. I have you down at 10 am for Friday the 11th. Now, you’re not going to be able to make it down at ALL this week?
Me: (puzzled) Um, No, that’s why we need to reschedule.
Her: (suddenly sounding disappointed) Well, I’m just gonna have to pass this message onto Dr. Lyle and see what he thinks about it and see if it’s OK if you reschedule.
Me: (laughing) Well, Dr. Lyle can think whatever he wants to think, it won’t change the fact that we don’t have the money to come down to Vegas THIS week!
Her: OK, well I’m just gonna let him know this, because I don’t think he wants the baby to go unseen for another week. (keep in mind at the beginning of the call we already rescheduled)
Me: (completely baffled) Look lady, you can PASS this message onto to him, but it’s not going to change ANYTHING. We can’t come down there THIS week! I’ve had to cancel 3 other appointments as well. We can’t afford the trip!
Her: Well these visits are extremely important for your baby, he needs this special care!
Me: I understand that, but this cannot be helped. It’s not like I’m trying to be an ass here, we just can’t afford it.
Her: You know Dr. Lyle is the ONLY Dr. in ALL of Las Vegas who does this sort of thing for the babies right?
Me: Um, ok, wow.
Her: And there are only 400 Doctors in the US who do it because no one really cares about this sort of thing.
Her: So I’m just going to let the doctor know this and see what he thinks then.
Me: It’s not going to change anything.
Her: This appointment is Extremely important!!!
Me: Well then, why doesn’t Dr. Lyle make a trip up to Tonopah just to see my son?
Her: Oh… well… he doesn’t usually make trips like that.
Me: Well then, I guess he’s NOT going to be seen THIS week!
Her: I don’t know where you’re coming from or how much it costs you but isn’t there any way you can make it work?
Me: (feeling my skin getting hot) We live in Tonopah! That’s THREE HOURS NORTH of Las Vegas. And we have a TRUCK! So it’s just over a $200 round trip for us. And my husband works Fridays, so I have no other care for my other 2 kids.
Her: Well, what other days is your husband off?
Me: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.
Her: Well can’t you come down here today then?
Me: (WTF?!?!) Um, no, we don’t have the money THIS WEEK!
Her: Well can’t your husband get an advance on his paycheck?
Me: (shocked) What?? No!!!
Her: Listen, I’m not talking to you from the Doctor’s office, I’m talking to you Mother to Mother, he really needs to be seen this week, this is very important.
Me: (LIVID but calm) I understand he needs to be seen, but we DON’T. HAVE. THE MONEY. To come down there and WON’T UNTIL the 11th.
Her: OK, well if anything changes, you just bring him right in, don’t even make an appointment.
Me: How’s that going to work? Dr. Lyle is ONLY in the Office on Monday and Friday and ONLY sees babies until 10 am. So If I miraculously get money dropped into my account next Tuesday, he won’t be in his office to see him!
Her: (puzzled) Well, you just let us know if you can bring him in sooner.
So, after that wasted, extremely irritating 5 minute phone call, I started to do some research. ROP stands for Retinopathy of prematurity. It basically means that the eyes are underdeveloped, and of course they are, he was born 15 weeks early. At Stage 1 and Stage 2 there is NO treatment. The eyes can only be monitored with visits every 3-4 weeks. According to the paperwork we got from the hospital, Draikaiden doesn’t quite have Stage 1. So there is NO treatment! So why does THIS doctor want us in there EVERY 2 weeks even when we can’t afford the trips?
Let me briefly backtrack. The last few weeks in the hospital, several of the nurses warned me that THIS doctor is one of the ones who will actually turn us into CPS (Child Protection Services) for not attending the appointments. Hmm. Curious.
And then at our first visit to our pediatrician, he said Stage 1 ROP is completely normal in preemies and he’ll be just fine. I told him that the eye Dr. demands biweekly visits and will turn us into CPS. He laughed and said that he is just making sure he is getting a pay check in these troubling times. Um… Whoa!!! I hadn’t thought of it that way.
So then after the wasted 5 minute phone call, I got with our insurance company. I spoke with a wonderful woman who did some research for me. Turns out, there are 2 other pediatric opthamologist in the Greater Las Vegas area who do the SAME thing. So we are now scheduled for a second opinion with a doctor who doesn’t exist!
I made my husband call the other eye doctor and cancel the existing appointment and let them know we won’t be returning because we found another doctor who is In-Network with our insurance company. Since then, they have called MY cell phone twice to dispute this and try to get the information for this other doctor! I’m not telling them anything and I won’t even answer their call.