Here is my account of how things have played out current to yesterday. Most of it is actually true.
Early in 2006, an orthopedic surgeon operated on my left knee and made it worse.
I went to a yoga instructor because yoga is good for worse knees.
I went to an internist because yoga made my shoulders hurt.
I went to an orthopedic shoulder surgeon because that’s what the internist told me to do.
I went to a physical therapist because that’s what the orthopedic shoulder surgeon told me to do.
When physical therapy didn’t help, I went to a massage therapist who made my shoulders even more worse, and who told me to go to a dermatologist about some “funny looking moles.” (Ha, ha.)
I went to an acupuncturist because the more I read about shoulder surgery, the more scared I got—and because I remembered how my last joint surgery turned out. The acupuncturist stopped just short of offering me a money-back guarantee that he could “heal” my shoulders. $550 later my shoulders were worse. “That means the treatment is working,” he explained. “And what would it mean if they had gotten better?” I asked. “It would mean the same thing,” he offered. “WOW!” I said, scarcely able to believe my luck.
I then went back to the orthopedic shoulder surgeon who said, “Alas and alack, you have new symptoms that could mean you will need spinal surgery before you have the two shoulder surgeries; I am sending you to a neurological diagnostician.”
The neurological diagnostician ordered an MRI, a CAT, an EMG, an IRA, a thousand shares of Eli Lilly, and a nerve conduction study.
The radiologist who read the MRI and the CAT said, “Alas and alack, this man might have metastatic cancer in his fifth cervical vertebra.” He and the neurological diagnostician jumped up and down waving their arms in the air, squealing like little girls, and screaming, “Oh, gross!”
When they calmed down, the neurological diagnostician sent me to the internist whom I saw in the first place. “I thought you’d be back someday,” he grinned while rubbing his palms together in a manner reminiscent of a mortician I used to know whenever he had sold a rosewood coffin. The internist ordered a WBC, an HGB, an HCT, an RDW, a MCHC, an LDL, a PSA, and an XJ6. Everything but the XJ6 was a blood test so it’s not like I had to drive all over town to get them done—which was pretty much what I had been doing.
Meanwhile, I finally got in to see a dermatologist, and he presented me with a clean bill of dermatological health. He obviously missed class the day they taught new doctors to refer their patients to other new doctors in a permanent circle broken only by a patient’s death or insurance cancellation. This was the same day when all the new doctors hugged, cried, and knew they were full-fledged members of the medical fraternity.
Then I returned to the internist whom I saw in the first place to ask if he was happy with my blood tests and his vintage Jag. He said, “Alas and alack, you might indeed have cancer, but then again you might have osteonecrosis.” “DEAD BONE!?” I screamed, putting the root words together. “Dead bone,” he repeated sadly. “Worse yet, my XJ6 won’t be here in time for the weekend…. Now, where was I? Oh, yeah, I’m sending you to a neurological surgeon for a biopsy.” I told him I was truly sorry about his XJ6. His eyes moistened with gratitude, and I patted his hand.
He then became thoughtful, turned pale, and upchucked some sturgeon eggs. “Please excuse me Mr. Thomas, but rotting bone marrow smells SO GROSS that even thinking about it makes me want to puke.” “More than ‘want to’ I would say, Mr. Doctor Man.”
That was yesterday. I am now waiting for a call from the office of the neurological surgeon. I’m told that I won’t hear anything until he hears from insurance, and that this could take a week or more. I am excited about having a bone biopsy because the anesthesiologist will give me Vercid before I am stabbed in the back with a humongous needle, and Vercid is an entertaining drug even if it does make me say things that I later regret.
Many doctors have made many monies, but no doctor has helped my shoulders, and now my back hurts too, and I might be dying—but I doubt it because I still have upwards of two million dollars in insurance coverage, enough to keep me alive at least until early January and maybe into February. My savings might be in the pockets of Wall Street bankers, Exxon Mobil executives, Communist China, and the military industrial complex, but, by god, I’ve got insurance, and if I’m lucky my everything will get well by itself before it’s all gone.