Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Circle Game

As ardent fans may remember, I've had three surgeries on my right arm since breaking it--along with 2 ribs, nose, sinus, palate & browbone--when I was thrown off a horse on May Day 2006. The last surgery was in mid-June, when I had the 6" plate removed from the humerus, and carpal tunnel release done on the wrist. (See I've Lost That Magnetic Feeling.)

The surgery went well and my arm soon hurt much less. Things were going great, though I never regained feeling in the numb middle finger. Then on the morning of September 27, I woke up with my right hand horribly asleep. It took a good 10 minutes for the feeling to come back and when it did, my arm was hurting worse than it had in months. On a drive to the mountains with Darling Husband that day, I went nuts trying in vain to find a comfortable position for my right arm on the shotgun seat armrest, and had to put the shoulder strap under my arm because I couldn't bear to have it touch my shoulder.

A few days later, I went to see Dr H, who did the 2nd & 3rd surgeries.
Me: "My arm's killing me. What's going on?"

Dr H: "Well, you'll have good days and bad days."

Me: "Why am I suddenly having bad days after three months of good days?

Dr H: "Hmmm... Maybe you should get psychological counseling."
Nothing makes me crazier than a doctor (and it's always a man) telling me I should see a shrink. I pointed out to Dr H that the pain is in my arm, not my head. Then he basically told me to suck it up and get lost.

So I called Dr A, the orthopedic specialist who removed the lipoma from my right shoulder a year ago. Her assistant told me to see Dr B, a neurosurgeon.

Dr B examined me in early November, but he wasn't sure surgery would be helpful. So he sent me to Dr C, a neurologist/physiatrist at the poetically titled Amputee Services of America. (There's nothing like seeing people missing half a leg--or two--to give one perspective.)

Dr C had me get MRIs of my right arm and shoulder. The one of my arm had him concerned, so last week he sent me to see Dr D, an arm/shoulder specialist at the busiest orthopedic practice ever. My appointment was for 1:00 and I didn't see Dr D till after 2:30. Good thing I brought a thick book.
Dr D: "Hmm... looks like edema on the humerus. Maybe the bone is infected."

Me: "Great. Now what?"

Dr D: "Go for some blood tests, then I want you to see....



...Dr A. She's a specialist in bone infections."
So this afternoon I went back to Dr A. (She always wears the snazziest shoes. Today she had on cowboy boots of some exotic leather. Orthopedic surgery sure must pay.)
Dr A: "There's nothing I can do for you. I told you that last year."

Me: "What about my blood work?"

Dr A: "Looks fine. No infection."

Me: "I figured as much. But now what? My arm's still hurting."

Dr A: "You're never going to get back to the way you were before."

Me: "How about just the way I was on Sept. 26?"

Dr A: "Never happen. Maybe you should see a pain management specialist. Or go see Dr E, the neurosurgeon. He does amazing things with spinal implants that interfere with pain transmission to the brain."

Me: (No f*cking way!) "I have an autoimmune disorder. Implants mess me up."

Dr A: (shrugs) "Then Dr B and Dr C should settle this between them."
On the way to the elevator, I passed by Dr C's office. Amazing fact: HE HAS TIME TO SPEAK TO PATIENTS, EVEN WHEN THEY DON'T HAVE AN APPOINTMENT. So I stopped in and gave him the happy news that now he has to confer with Dr B.

In the meantime, I'll suck it up and get lost.


Obie Joe said...

Oh, this is not acceptable. There's a reason why physicians are trained to pay attention to the patient's history with even more acceptance than test results. You know best, and this result is not acceptable. Could you consult a different team when traveling to East Coast this Spring?

Bella Stander said...

I'm fed up with running around after doctors. I saw an osteopath at a teaching hospital in Maine in Nov. She told me to just wait & heal--basically a kinder variation of "Suck it up and get lost."

I'll see what, if anything, Drs B & C cook up. I'm not eager to go back for surgery (this time my arm would have to be sliced from pit to wrist), but nor do I want to take massive doses of anti-inflammatories the rest of my life. I've given up on pain meds in favor of being able to wake up and think clearly.

Meg Robbins said...

So..here I am aspiring humor/travel author and I stumble upon a blog written by my alter-ego--a writer who has been foolish enough to exchange riding the horse for riding the rail (or as in my case, being trampeled by the herd following the horse I fell of on that Scottish beach).

Dunno when all yer parts were rung asunder but I do know that time is good as are hot tubs. And riding--go back to Gomez, apologize and meander. Am also parent to twin MD's who have the so it goes attitude well bred in medical school until it applies to them, so have little hope for empathy.

Am now enthusiastic follower of yr blog and if my draft book becomes a book book that other people pay $ for will remember not to wear beige at book signings. Am thinking stunning Spiderman cape might be thought provoking? Such a fab red!
cheers and thanks,
meg robbins
Up the Ben and Down the Boozer

Bella Stander said...

Thanks, Meg! Love the pix on your blog.

Couldn't apologize to Gomez even if I wanted to--which I don't; HE hurt ME, remember?--as he's long since been sold. (To the glue factory, Darling Husband fondly hopes.) I'd love to saddle up on some other nag, but haven't been able to do so in a year due to sore/weak arm. Just wiping off my car windows makes it worse; no way I can brush a horse.