Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I'm Psychologically Distoibed!

Glenda Jackson in Marat/Sade.

Today I went for a 10th(!) opinion on my right arm, to Dr M. As a welcome change, she was polite, kind & respectful. Unfortunately, she didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, nor give me any great hope for the future. She wanted me to see the partner of Dr Schmuck, who's in the same building, for "pain treatment" (e.g., physical therapy and drugs, which haven't been effective this go-round). I told her I wouldn't set foot in that office, nor have one dime of my money go into his pocket. So she referred me to someone else, whose name I've filed away.

Dr M looked at the results of Dr C's EMG nerve tests (i.e., "torture") and, just as he did, told me that the median nerve was doing better. I told her my response to him: "Sez you. If the nerve is 'better' why does my arm hurt more, and why are my fingers more numb?"

"These things take time," said Dr M, echoing Dr C & several others. She repeated that nerve tissue heals @ 1mm/day. My arm is a good 24" (610mm) from shoulder to middle fingertip. I finally did the math: I have to wait 610 days after last June's surgery, i.e., till February 1, 2010, to see whether the median nerve has regenerated. But if it hasn't healed by then, it'll be too dead to repair. So I'll be stuck with a sore arm and perpetually numb fingers.

My quandary: Should I have surgery that might fail & leave me worse off, or wait another painful year & maybe miss the chance to fix the nerve?

Last week I left a message for Dr C, asking for a referral to a neurosurgeon "who isn't arrogant & condescending" like Dr B. His office manager called back with contact info for Dr X. After I got home from seeing Dr M, I Googled Dr X. And--what's this?--he's not a neurosurgeon, he's a neurologist and...PSYCHIATRIST.

Official diagnosis: I'm psychologically distoibed!

Official reaction: Nothing makes me crazier than being told--always by a MALE doctor--that I should see a shrink.

Darling Husband agrees that if he were the one seeking help, he'd have been treated with a lot less condescension, and offered surgery rather than palliatives and psychotherapy. I feel a Third Wave of feminism raging within me.


Colorado Writer said...

Hi Bella,
This will only help if you still live in Denver. If you do, read on.

I have read some of your posts about your pain and wanted to tell you about my neurosurgeon, Dr. William Choi. He's at Neurosurgey Associates in Lone Tree. He's also the head of neurosurgery at Skyridge Hospital.

He (with his staff) changed my life 2 years ago.

I had a car accident in 2001 (rearended) and lived with horrible arm and neck pain for years after (although perhaps not as bad as what you are describing).

I went to different docs, massage therapists, and chiropractors, and none of them could help me. They wouldn't even do an MRI. Just gave me percocet or flexeril.

Sometimes, especially at night, my right arm ached so bad sometimes that I fantasized about cutting it off. My fingers were numb all the time. My life was always about the pain, especially at night.

Finally, I went to Dr. Choi. He listened, sent me for an MRI and a CAT, and we found that I had 2 collapsed discs in 5-6 and 6-7, and probably bone spurs, plus spondylosis.

I had cervical fusion less than a month later and am much better. It was 2 years in Feb.

Perhaps he can help you. He was wonderful, as was his staff, never doubting my feelings or making me feel crazy. I sobbed like a baby because he took the time to understand me and he helped me right away.

Here is his resume and the website for his practice. I hope he can help you.


Neurosurgery Associates
10099 Sky Ridge Parkway
Suite 490
Lone Tree, CO 80124
Phone: 303-790-2225

Stephanie Blake

#1 Dinosaur said...

My quandary: Should I have surgery that might fail & leave me worse off, or wait another painful year & maybe miss the chance to fix the nerve?False dichotomy. The nerve has to regenerate from above; no way around that. "Fixing the nerve" surgically just means making sure the anatomic structure -- the tissues surrounding the nerve and its myelin sheath -- is continuous so that the nerve goes back to the right place as it regenerates. The "old" nerve, the part beyond where it was disrupted, is never going to be functional and is resorbed by the body.

The question you need to be asking is which approach gives you the best chance for the best result by Feb 2010.

You have nothing to lose by checking out the doc in the above post.

Best of luck.

Bella Stander said...

THANK YOU, O wise dinosaur! The false dichotomy was engendered by the wanker doctors I've been seeing. I will follow your & Stephanie's advice.

Anonymous said...

And Bella, kudos for just hanging there and knowing you are the one who is being unreasonable here. That is a great accomplishment in itself. I will be thinking of you and hoping Stephanie Blake's doctor can help you. (Also, S.B. is one of the most generous souls I know--before I sold my book when I was looking for newbie advice, she was so kind to me. Kudos to her as well, for her generosity.)

Teri Hall

Nina said...

Stop the torture and find a good neurosurgeon. It can make a huge difference.

Keep looking until you find one who LISTENS. They're out there. Mine is in Hershey PA, which may be a bit far for you to go, but you'll find one.

don't give up!

Bella Stander said...

Thanks, Nina. (I love NO WHINING symbol on your blog!) I'm looking hard for another neurosurgeon. Dr Choi (per Colorado Writer) ONLY does brain & spine, but his assistant gave me the name of a doc who does arms. I'm waiting for him to get back to me. Meanwhile I have some other feelers out.

Kim Stagliano said...

Bella, I'm so sorry!

I watch AMC's Mad Men. The main character's wife is seeing a psychiatrist and the doctor actually calls the husband to give him updates! Betty overhears the phone call and is horrified.

There must be an alternative treatment that would assist in the pain. I don't know if it would be acupuncture, Reiki, craniosacral therapy - I'd have to ask around. But you should not have to live in chronic pain - or dull the pain by dulling your entire life with pills.

I am sorry.


Bella Stander said...

Thanks, Kim! The episode of "Mad Men" horrified me, as I'm sure was intended. I'm getting complementary health treatments--acupuncture, osteopathy, homeopathy--but they're not working very well. Happily, I've found another neurosurgeon (referred by doc recommended by Colorado Writer). If he doesn't work out, some power Googling turned up 2 orthopods at Denver Health who specialize in my type of injury.

John Elder Robison said...

I hope you can finally get that damn arm fixed! It seems never ending.

I missed you in Denver day before yesterday. I was not sure if I was going to have any free time with the stuff I came out for and as it turned out I had dining engagements with the sponsors/Googleites/Etc every day.

But I will be out again soon and I will surely hook up with you Doreen, and the others I missed seeing.

And happy mother's day, such as it is. Woof!