A Week From Hell

Yes, this is me!

This last week has been something of an ordeal for me and my partner, and here’s why.

Our family doctor retired. He retired January 1st. Nothing extraordinary, except, the Practise and, the doctor himself, never bothered to inform his patients to the fact he was retiring. That would be us! We never got an email, We never got a phone call. We didn’t even get a good old fashioned letter. Zip. Nil. Nada.

We only found out last Monday because my partner called to get me an appointment with him to renew my prescription. That’s when my partner was told, ‘Oh, Doctor X has retired.’ In a tone inferring my partner was some sort of idiot for not knowing. That’s how often we go to or need a doctor.

My partner then asked to have an appointment with another doctor at the Practise. And, again, was told in a patronizing tone they were not at liberty to assign a new doctor, nor could they take an appointment for me with another doctor. I would have to be assigned a ‘new’ doctor by registering online. The woman then hung up on my partner.

After 20 years of attending this practise, we had been summarily dismissed. At least, that’s what it felt like.

We then went online to figure out just what registering entailed and how on earth I would get an appointment with a doctor. My current prescription and my last set of pills is due to expire at the end of April. Usually, two months is more than enough time to get an appointment with our old doctor, have a check up, and be prescribed a new prescription based on exam results for another year.

We duly registered on the new online website filling out the endless questions, clicked send and finally arrived at a screen—and told to print out the confirmation—that we would be assigned a new doctor in 479 days from registration.


I could be dead before that happened from a high blood pressure event given at that very moment,  said blood pressure was riding high. Sadly, there is nothing we can do, apparently, but hope we’re assigned a new doctor earlier rather than later.

In the meantime, my partner called the Practise, again, and got someone else this time, and asked about the ‘walk-in’ clinic. Yes, we could come to the ‘walk-in’ no problem. The doctor on call would assess me, and at their discretion, could renew my prescription. NOTE: at their discretion!

You would have thought we were jubilant at being able to go to the walk-in. Except, the sick needing to see a doctor, and even using the walk-in (remember what a walk-in is) need to call for an appointment on an automated system.

The system is only open between FOUR A.M. and FOUR THIRTY A.M. (4:00 4:30) — for a walk-in clinic!

For three mornings we tried, and we tried, and we tried, but within 2 minutes of calling and going through all the questions, we were told each time, the walk-in was full, and to try again the next day. Finally, my partner got up on Sunday morning and voilá! We got an appointment for 9:30. I couldn’t have been more happier. We both realised maybe not everyone knows there is a walk-in on a Sunday.

Totally exhausted, we both went, my partner coming as back-up, given my French is not up to discussing medical issues with anyone, let alone a doctor.

Thankfully—and to cut this long story short—the female doctor on call gave me a new prescription. And yes, she scheduled me all my usual yearly tests and told me not to worry, she would get back in contact me after she had all the results in. Which, I’m sure, she’s not supposed to do, but I suspect, having heard of my plight did what good doctors do, by putting her patients first, something I am truly grateful for.

Now, I just have to wait for Health Québec to find me a new doctor. Oh, and btw, they can be anywhere within the city limits.

So, how was your weekend?

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  1. March 18, 2019

    Ugh. How awful. Fingers crossed you get a new doctor soon!

    • March 19, 2019

      Awful and, I’m sure, wholly unnecessary, Naomi. And, as they say, only time will tell.

  2. March 18, 2019

    What the hell kind of system is that?! God Alexandra, I’m baffled I’m relieved you found a decent and humane doctor in the end!

    • March 19, 2019

      A messed up one, Kelly! I think it’s what they call, broken!!! Rolls eyes … but seriously. In the end, after jumping through all the damn hoops, I finally got to see a doctor, and yeah. So far so good.

  3. March 18, 2019

    OMG Alexandra I live in the same country as Inge and it is like she said! I am in the process of changing from doctor practice as I am not satisified by my all doctor anymore. I had a rendez vous within two days and I called any time between 8 AM and 6 PM!!! This is totally nuts!!!!! I am relieved you found someone but also completely baffled!
    What do you do if someone is dying like having a cardiac arrest or a stroke or…?

    • March 18, 2019

      This new phone system is for people with minor illness and the usual problems, Sophie. For anyone in dire need it’s the usual 911 and an ambulance ride to the nearest hospital. I could see a doctor fairly quickly in Accident and Emergency, and be assessed, but only if I were having a stroke, heart attack, or had something else life threatening.

      The fact I need my prescription filled is seen as nothing. Regardless of the fact I need these pills to stay alive. Which is the crazy part. People should be able to get their prescriptions filled through another system that doesn’t require getting up at 4am!

      • March 19, 2019

        Well Alexandra I have many complaints about my country but I am aware that we are blessed as far as medical care is concerned!

        • March 20, 2019

          What’s so upsetting is that we too, up until five maybe 6 years ago, Sophie, had a decent health care system in place, and one (that for the most part) worked. So I’m not sure what went wrong, where, and why everything is now in such chaos. It just doesn’t make sense.

          But then, they change governments here like most people change their underwear. 🙁

  4. Oh my, what a nightmare! At least you find someone helpful! A special system you guys have with the sign-ups and registring. We have real walk-in hours, without having to sign up (you do have to wait very long though for your turn) and we can just ‘call’ any doctor we want for an appointment (either at their practice or asking them to come at your house). Some don’t take new patients but most don’t mind. I went to another one the last time myself, but it will also be one time. Finding a good doctor isn’t so easy

    • March 18, 2019

      We use to have “real” walk-in times too, Inge. Where you turned up at the clinic, took a ticket and waited in line. With only so many tickets issued in that day. Once the machine ran out, you had to come back the following day. But the system wasn’t working, it seems, with too many people camped out in the waiting rooms for several hours. So now, this is the new system – call at 4 am!

      Of course, if you have a family doctor, you can call and get an appointment, but sometimes it takes days or weeks to see someone. Which is just as silly.

      And yes, amid everything, finding a good doctor is hard!

  5. March 18, 2019

    OMG, and WTF! :/ I’m sorry you had to go through this ordeal.

    Is this normal? Or your doctor’s practice is a special case? I’m just baffled, really… I mean, it’s near impossible to get an “emergency appointment” here, but even so, they take calls between 8 – 8.30 am.
    And not assigning a doctor… ugh. At my GP they have around 4-5 doctors. Some random ones as well. Every time i make an appointment, i get someone new. I don’t have a regular one… but i don’t really care, they were all pretty nice so far.

    • March 18, 2019

      We have a similar system (supposedly) to the UK, her in QC, Norrie. But not everything works according to plan. It’s all about a lack of doctors, apparently. Yet, at the practise I was going to, they have 15 doctors! FIFTEEN!

      And yes, if your ‘family’ doctor is in a practise, you can see any of the doctors. Which is just plain baffling. I just don’t understand what the problem is. And I can see this is why so many not-really-sick people end up going into A&E for help.

      It’s all just mind-boggling.

  6. It’s no better in the US! My doctor left inexplicably (I loved her!) in July and I couldn’t find her. In late January, I refilled my last prescription written by her and was desperate to get another doctor. Just by chance I figured out she’d started at a new practice relatively close to where I live and immediately made an appointment. She let me know subtly there were issues with the last practice (no help at all with finding me another female practitioner) and she didn’t think it would take her six months. I’m really happy right now but those six months without a doctor were scary.

    I’m glad it worked out for you, Alexandra. It shouldn’t be this hard.

    • March 18, 2019

      Oh, you too, Jonetta? It’s scary, really scary what goes on over your side of the dotted line, so I’m glad you found where your doctor had moved too.

      Me? I will just have to wait. Never has the word ‘patient’ meant so much. And no, it should’t be this hard at all! 🙁

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