The first is a great thing, the second can be dangerous.
I remember consulting with an orthopedic surgeon about eight years ago… his P.A. was great. And considering I feel like I’m being shuffled off when a P.A. is foisted on me, that’s saying something. His P.A. was thorough, compassionate, and knowledgeable. After two hours in the clinic, the surgeon finally deigned to grace me with his presence. I walked out of his office convinced there was no way in hell he was coming within 100 yards of my back. He was so arrogant I was pretty sure he’d be that doctor who left something inside me! No way, Jose. You’re not touching me with a 10-foot pole, let alone a scalpel! Step away!
The neuro who operated on my back in 2002 (yes, I turned 37 last week and had back surgery in 2002… you do the math), was incredible. She was confident in who she was as a surgeon, wife, and mother. She was approachable, but incredibly knowledgeable. My surgery was scheduled for 7:00 a.m. and was supposed to conclude around 10:00 a.m. At 11:45 a.m., a nurse came out to the waiting room to tell my parents that it ran quite a bit longer than anticipated. When she finished working on me, Dr. H sent me to recovery and went out to discuss the reason for the delay with my fam. It wasn’t anything serious… she spent the extra time cleaning up bone chips that had squirreled around so I would have no unexpected agitation nor complications. We discovered that anesthesia and I mix like oil and water and they had to keep me in the hospital for three extra days because I needed to stay hydrated via IV. Dr. H checked on me daily. In person. Not by telephone call or some other such nonsense.
What a remarkable difference between these two surgeons. One thought he was God’s gift to those with medical issues, the other saw herself as a person trained and capable of improving a patient’s quality of life.
The reason I bring this up is that I drove to Denver to see a neuro today. Nope, it wasn’t a surgical consult. I was talking to the other doctor at my physical therapy clinic, Scott’s wife Dyanna… Dy and I were talking about my medical care and my frustration with pain management over the last few years. See, I fired my pain doc two years ago. He had no use for me because I had no interest in injections/nerve blocks. I’ve had fourteen bilateral nerve blocks at L4-L5 and L5-S1. Aware of my system’s intolerance of anesthesia, I did them with only a local in my back. Nerve blocks redefine momentary pain. (You know that pain scale your nurse or doctor ask you about… “Rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10.” Well, nerve blocks are a 37.) Holy cats. It’s enough to make a grown man bawl like a baby. And whereas most patients receive months of pain relief following the procedure, I get days of relief. When doing a cost benefit analysis, the cost and discomfort are not worth the lack of relief I experience. And, they caused me to gain about 30 pounds in a hurry. Steroids will do that to a person. So my primary care physician (PCP) has been overseeing everything. That’s fine for the interim, but I need someone who is familiar with spinal issues and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
Well, I got one of the two. I met with the neuro this afternoon and he’s a whiz when it comes to spinal issues. EDS? Not so much. He ordered a new lumbar MRI (which I expected) and a thoracic MRI (which I’d hoped for). On a scale of 1 to 100 with 1 being low and 100 being high, on the likability meter, he rated about an 85. He’s confident, but not arrogant. However, I’m not sure yet as to his knowledge rating. His nurse, who did the initial medical intake, rated about a 70 on my meter. I had to explain to her what EDS is and after she asked me about my range of motion in my back and I replied, “That’s part of the problem.” She contradicted me and said that’s not a problem. Uh… yeah it is. When a physical therapist or massage therapist is working on me, if I feel “normal” to them, that means I’m tight. Care to imagine how flexible my joints and spine are when I’m feeling normal?! I’m like Gumby. It’s crazy. Anyway, so the nurse rated about a 70 on the likability meter.
The office manager, on the other hand, rated about a 5. And I have zero patience for this. The MD made a suggestion that I get my MRI at the facility across the street and then just come back to his office for the follow up appointment after the fact. He thought returning to his area for a one-stop-shop was a good plan as efficiency goes. I’d only have to miss work on one day, right? Brilliant. Miss Snooty-Pattooty waltzed into the room and when I mentioned this, she informed me it’s too hard to coordinate that. I’m sorry, maybe you misheard me. Your boss–the guy who owns the clinic and signs your paychecks (or hires the person who signs your paychecks)–suggested this option… not me. I’m guessing that means he is okay with the timing. Then as I was walking down the hall to exit, I noticed the MRI was requested without contrast. I’ve had four MRIs since my surgery and all four involved contrast (radioactive dye) to highlight everything in and around the surgical scar tissue. Clearly, I’m not crazy! (Well, I might be… just not where MRIs and contrast are concerned). I went back into the office to verify this was correct. The same office manager didn’t appreciate my questions. News flash, sweetheart: If you don’t get your condescending attitude under control and develop some customer service skills, I’m going to fire your boss and I have no qualms explaining to him why I’m doing it. I’m not trying to be difficult, but I’d appreciate being treated with respect instead of intimating I’m a dullard. On the contrary… I read medical records as a part of my job and my PT prints out articles from medical journals so I can stay abreast of recommendations for coping with EDS. In the unlikely event my favorite PT and his wife keel over, I’ll not be in the dark where recommendations for treatment of my back are concerned.
I don’t think this neuro would leave something inside me, but I do think his office manager is rude. Exceptionally so, actually.
Also, going back to weigh ins on a weekly basis, I’ve lost 10+ pounds. Granted, 7.8 of those pounds came off in about three days after I stopped using my meds. <smile> If you can’t see the funny side of some things, you’re doomed to the alternative… tears.
Tomorrow I am not going to the office. Woohoo! I am, however, taking my camera (and its lenses) and headed to the guy’s house. We’re apparently having a battle of cameras. For the record, mine is better than his. Even he’ll admit that if he’s being serious. Anyway, this date is his idea. I have a loose idea where we’re headed off to. And yes, I reminded him I do not hike. Ever. Except that time in Germany. But that’s an exception (and a HUGE exception at that!) and not the rule. Me no like. At. All.
Alright, I’m fallin’ asleep sittin’ up… and that’s a bad thing. So, nighty-night!