If you haven’t had the chance to read Part I of this Gig Girl series, please click here to catch up (we’ll wait patiently). Again, please note that I’ve changed the names of some of the people and parties involved. It’s a looooooong story (I suppose “When There Are No Words” is a complete misnomer – apparently there are LOTS of words) so I’ve condensed a few events just to make it easier to read, but have not compromised the actual details.
The first thing you should know is that after hearing that awful voicemail, I checked the phone number Dot had dialed from. It wasn’t the office line. I looked it up quickly online and realized that she had called me from her personal cell phone because it was late Saturday afternoon…and I know that Dot doesn’t work on Saturdays.
“She wasn’t in the office,” I said to the Hubs. “She gave my blood test results and said all those things about me…said my first and last name…to a roomful of people that weren’t at the health clinic.” That’s when the gravity of the situation really started to sink in.
I find it interesting just how differently the Hubs and I initially reacted to this realization. To me, this was a woman who had all the very painful and private details of my struggle to conceive. She had examined me, performed very personal procedures on me and had been the person I contacted each time something happened during my pregnancies. My response to her accidental voicemail had a very visceral effect on me as I looked down through tear filled eyes at my uncontrollably trembling hands. I felt violated, humiliated, mortified and yes, angry when I heard how callously Dot could dismiss and dehumanize me as a patient (to God know who a this point).
The Hubs, on the other hand, is often an emotional purist with one main feeling permeating most situations (maybe that’s a guy thing?). Ever my protector, he took one look at my tears and trembles and just raced toward pure, unadulterated rage. I could actually see the wrath streaming across his face. However, he knew he first had to check his fury for a moment:
Hubs: (hugging me) Hon, I need you to take a deep breath and please calm down. Everything is going to be okay. You heard her message. Your counts are good. We are going to take care of this, but I can’t have you getting upset. It’s not good for you or the baby.
Hearing “the baby” snapped me out of it…he was right. I had to get it together. So, after much effort, I did manage to control the shakes and stifle the tears and get my blood pressure back to a more manageable count. With a final hug and forehead kiss, the Hubs knew I was okay. Now it was his turn to release a bit.
Some moments in a marriage are not meant for public consumption. So, without sharing too many details, I will divulge that at the peak of his mountain of anger the Hubs actually said “Either we sue them for mistreating you or I go down there and punch someone in the face!! Sue or punch! Those are our ONLY options!!” As soon as he said it, we both looked at each other and laughed at the ridiculousness of it. We needed that. Now we could both assess what was ahead of us and decide what to do about Dot.
Despite my Hubs outburst, we truly are not litigious people (or punch in the face people for that matter) so suing was not an option. We are also not vengeful people so pressing to get Dot fired was also not an option. Ultimately, I realized that all I really wanted out of this ordeal was:
1) An immediate ultrasound to determine the viability and health of my pregnancy
2) This episode recorded on Dot’s permanent record so she’d think twice before discussing a patient in any way, anywhere, EVER. I NEVER wanted another woman to feel the way I felt after hearing that voicemail. That would be enough for me. The Hubs agreed, and we waited patiently for Monday to arrive so we could start getting this whole episode behind us and focus on this pregnancy that wasn’t supposed to happen.
My first call Monday morning was to the Registered Board of NH Nurses. I told the Director’s assistant my story. She literally gasped and immediately put me through to the Director herself. The Director was great and told me that this certainly qualifies as a huge breach of patient confidentiality, especially if Dot was out of the office. She told me to discuss the issue with the head of Dot’s facility. They will likely give her a warning of some sort and if I fill out the complaint form on the Board’s website it will go on her permanent record to ensure that if it ever happens again, Dot is done. Okay, good to know.
So then I called the clinic and got the Assistant RN “Kate”.
Kate: Hi! I’m just looking over your chart and everything looks good!! Dot is out on vacation so she wants you to wait until she gets back for your ultrasound, but I’ll get you on the schedule…
Me: (with a sudden jolt of emotion) I got a really inappropriate voicemail from Dot over the weekend, Kate. That woman is never to utter my name again, let alone EVER touch my file. I want to schedule an ultrasound asap and I want to set up a meeting with you and the head of the facility to hear the message and discuss next steps.
Poor Kate. She took the brunt of my tirade and then reacted quickly to get things set up for me. The next day, Hubs and I went and met with Kate and “Dr. D” (head of facility). My precious, type A++ husband had with him a bulleted list of action items and details to discuss to ensure nothing was missed in this meeting (he even had a line on the sheet that read: “Play voicemail now”…and no, I’m not kidding).
Kate and Dr. D informed us that Dot, as we already surmised, was not in the office the day she left that message. From what they understood she was….wait for it….wait for it…AT A SCRAPBOOKING PARTY (seriously, could this only happen in NH?). Granted, some of Dot’s coworkers were at this scrapbooking party, but they were pretty sure that Dot’s grown up daughter (not a colleague) was the person screaming expletives in the background and there was a very good chance that other non-colleague people were there as well.
Me: Wait, let me get this straight. What you’re saying is, SHE ANNOUNCED MY PREGNANCY, TALKED TRASH ABOUT ME, USED MY FIRST AND LAST NAME, AND DISMISSED ALL THE OTHER “WEEPING WOMEN” SHE TREATS WHILE AT A SCRAPBOOKING PARTY????
Out of the corner of my eye I could see the Hubs busting out his figurative hiking boots to start climbing that mountain of anger again in my defense so I quickly softened my tone and we proceeded.
To their credit, Kate and Dr. D were wonderful and appropriately horrified and comforting about the whole event. They both asked me to please reconsider staying at the clinic, but the thought of ever seeing Dot again just overwhelmed me. They told me that after today’s ultrasound they would transfer all my records to a neighboring facility and that I would be kept posted as to what happened to Dot regarding this incident.
The most important part of my day: The ultrasound looked perfect. An embryo just over five weeks, placed exactly where it was supposed to be and looking absolutely gorgeous was growing inside of me. Of course, given my history, it was too soon to exhale, but we felt hope restored…somewhat.
The most shocking part of my day: Later that night, Hubs and I sat at our kitchen counter going over the whirlwind of the last few days when we heard a knock at the door.
“Dr. T” stood at my door. She is a partner at the clinic, the doctor I always envisioned delivering my baby should I ever be so fortunate as to make it to a delivery, and a woman from my town that I had met out socially through my neighbor. We are fans of Dr. T, so I asked her in.
Dr. T wasted no time; with tears in her eyes she immediately hugged me and said “I’m so so sorry this happened to you. I just wanted to make sure you were okay and to let you know…we fired Dot.”