Here is my account of how things have played out

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.


All Consuming said...

In regards to your post, especially the following...

"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."

It would be fair to say that we have the same circus-like farce in this country too. It's only when you have to spend some time in the health system that you realise how little they actually know, how appalling their social skills are, and the resemblance it all bears to a chimps tea party.

The mind boggles. Good luck with the phone call.

All Consuming said...

I'm answering the comment you left on my blog about how I deal with the pain here as then you'll get notification of it:

Yes it has got easier for me, but it's taken many years to get where I am now. I saw a psychologist for 2 years as I was having such difficulty coming to terms with the repetitive pain, and also other peoples reactions to it. It upset my parents and friends to hear about it, not that they actually said that out loud, but it was obvious. So I would hide it as best I could. This led to my not being able to share my feelings on the subject, and my partner at the time DID make it obvious he was uncomfortable talking to me about it. Consequently the people around me had no idea where my head was, and eventually I felt there was little point in existing at all. At this point I begged the doctor for counselling, and I'm very grateful I managed to do that I can tell you.

By the end of the 2 years I felt somewhat better and stopped worrying about other people being upset. I always answered honestly when they asked how I was or how I'd been, and they just had to deal with it. The pain issue has been harder, but I've become used to it to some extent. I accept it. I never hope I'll be 'my old self ' again, because that person is long gone, who I am now has been formed from who I was before, and who I have been since, and I rather like myself even more than I did before. For every horrible episode I've had there have been good things to come out of them that would not have happened had I never been ill. It's brought my immediate family together and made us all incredibly close, when there was a fair amount of distance previously. It's shown the true colours of my good friends. Most have been absolutely amazing, a couple were appalling...they are friends no more and I don't miss them. I appreciate and enjoy such everyday things when I can do them that I almost feel that everyone should have their abilities impaired for a while so they can too. People would hesitate to tell me about their minor aches and pains, cold and the like, often worried they would seem so insignificant compared to my own woes, but I always make it clear that everything is relative, and I'm glad I'm not the only one having a rough time hahaha. But really. I now have an incredibly supportive husband, and this has made a world of difference to me. Living alone with pain was very hard going. Many people have no pain but are emotional wrecks with terribly unhappy home lives. Oddly enough I'd say I'm happier now than I have ever been in my life. Any more operations and that would, I'm sure change, but I'll cross that bridge when and if it arrives.