A Professional Noodge


“Noodge – to annoy or bother with constant requests, complaints, or urgings. Also spelled “nudzh”, this is mean to pester with constant complaining, asking, and urging. It is similar to nagging. A “noodge” can also be someone who engages in such behavior.”  – from the Yiddish Slang Dictionary

Years ago early in my career our little IT department had a departmental administrative assistant named Tracy, who later worked for me directly doing IT desktop support. I was often impressed by how Tracy always managed to work the politics and bureaucracy of the organization to get things done from her lower-level position. One day I asked her how she did it. Her answer, “I’m a professional nooge and a pest.”

I loved the term ‘professional nooge’ and over the years have adopted it as my own to get things done. I get frustrated and annoyed when things move to slowly and have adopted Tracy’s approach when I feel things need a push.

Recently, I have been working with my primary care doctor and my urologist to get a clear diagnosis of what appears to be some kind of kidney stone. I have had flank pain on my right side for a few months, but choose to ignore it during the early days of COVID, hoping it would go away on its own. It did not.

I began by reaching out to first my primary care doctor two weeks ago, who ordered an ultrasound, and then my urologist last week, who ordered an x-ray of my kidney. But what comes next? Trying to get the medical establishment to move quickly is almost impossible and requires a project management mindset with the skills of a professional nooge and pest thrown in.

My urologist was away on vacation last week and promised that when he returned on Monday that he would review the tests he had ordered and would call me to discuss the next steps. He did call me late Monday and somehow I missed the call.

There is no way to call my doctor back directly because of how they have set up their phone system.  Every time I call the urologist’s office there are multiple levels of IVR menus to navigate through, the long wait on hold, the HIPAA verification of who I am before they come back to tell me my doctor is with a patient and they will leave him a message. It is a totally infuriating process and chews up my day.

I then traded messages with the urologist on their patient portal and he promised to call me Tuesday.  I made sure my phone was near me all day and even took a short nap with the phone by my head so that if he called I would not miss him.  He never called.

I found a message on the portal telling me he had been too busy to call and could talk to me Wednesday evening. Wednesday evening? I was furious. I could envision the week going by with no action.  I immediately became a professional nooge.  I wrote the doctor, “I am in constant low grade to mid-grade pain and I do not want to lose this week in getting to the next step in finding a diagnosis. If a CT scan is next, please order it. Otherwise, please tell me what you suggest next and order it so we can move forward.” I was unwilling to let another day go by with no action.

He did order a CT scan, and it was scheduled for his office early this morning for the middle of next week. Next week? I then spent the morning communicating with his nurse and getting the CT scan moved to this Friday. Where was the urgency here?

They say you have to be your own advocate when it comes to your health, and I would go a step further. The slow as molasses pace of medicine can kill you. You need to be an activist, strong manager, and constant nooge pushing the rock up the hill to get the medical care and service you need and are entitled to.

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