Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Doctor Visit

I went to the doctor yesterday, a doctor who specializes in hand, upper extremity, and microvascular surgery. I wrote about another doctor visit before and it wasn't good so it seems only right that I should discuss yesterday's experience.

I've had trouble with my left shoulder and arm for many months. I'm not even sure when I injured it but I'm pretty sure of how I injured it. There was this Wii fitness challenge where you had to lie flat on the floor and stand up using only one hand and do it 5 times in some short period of time. I couldn't do it. But I did. And I knew I'd hurt something when I did it.

Of course, I always think time will heal injuries of this type so I did nothing until I saw my regular doctor last Fall on another matter. At that time I mentioned that my arm (and shoulder) had been giving me trouble for some time. He gave me a cortisone injection and after the initial soreness it felt great - for about a month. Then it flared up again.

Finally, during the follow-up for my Christmas season illness, I mentioned it again and told him I just wanted to rule out anything really dire like bone cancer so he sent me for an MRI. The MRI showed some rotator cuff or tendon damage - not severe but damage just the same. So he sent me to Dr. Anderson at the Bone and Joint Institute in Valparaiso.

What kind of woman am I? When I called to make the appointment, I was asked which Dr. Anderson I wanted to see - the husband or the wife - both with the same specialty. Every instinct in my body said that I wanted to see the husband. Why? I don't know. I guess it's old school thinking. Somehow it felt like a man would be more appropriate for bone and joint problems - or something - I don't know. Anyway, Dr. Anderson, the wife, was the first available (a bad sign? or just a victim of people with archaic thinking like myself?) so I felt compelled, reluctantly, to choose her.

My appointment was less than a week away and I received a ream of papers in the mail to fill out along with instructions on every single little item that I needed to take with me. Ugh.

But, as I filled out those papers, I began to appreciate the logic of it all. Everything that I needed - medical history, prescriptions with their strengths and dosages, and insurance names and numbers - was right here at my fingertips. Further, I had time to get the pictures from the MRI so that I could take them in too.

I walked in for my appointment and felt like the most organized person in the world. The ream of papers also had an appointment card and an address along with driving instructions so I was there in plenty of time too.

I sat down with a really good magazine and enjoyed a cappuccino from the machine in the waiting room. Then I had x-rays and a visit with a nurse. That visit was followed by a visit with the Physician's Assistant which was followed by a visit with the Doctor herself. I liked her. I liked the whole experience - except for the painful injection in my shoulder where I personally don't think it should have been. (Apparently a rotator cuff injury can hurt down into your arm where I'm experiencing the most pain. We'll see how this plays out.)

Anyway, I was so impressed with the facility that I opted to have the prescribed physical therapy there, too. It's a bit of a drive; however it is near Beth's house so that mitigates the extra gas expense, right? (Fair warning, Beth)

I go back in about six weeks so we'll see what happens.

(The doctor did say it could be treated with easy outpatient arthroscopic surgery and I couldn't help but wish they would just do that because it's hard for me to believe that torn tissue will repair itself with physical therapy but here I am making judgments again. Supposedly I'll develop some muscles that will take the strain off the damaged tissue. But, do I really want to go around with damaged tissue for the rest of my life? Won't the problem come back when I quit doing the bothersome physical therapy?)

See I really am like my Dad. He never agreed with doctors either. The only difference is that I don't argue. I just wait and see.

And, like I said. We'll see in about six weeks.


  1. I hate going to the doctor, because even with bigger issues than normal illnesses, they never have an answer for me. Okay, 99% of the time they don't have an answer for me. So I totally understand.

    My opinion on rotator cuff surgery is that it *could* work. My mom has had both of her operated on and doesn't have any problems with them, but she doesn't really exercise. My dad has had it done on one side twice and still has issues with it.

    If physical therapy fixes it, fabulous. If not surgery is always an option, but it's not a 100% fix. And if the doctor - husband OR wife - tells you that it is a 100% guarantee, find a new doctor. Medicine is a science which means nothing it guaranteed.

  2. I'm glad you went to get it checked out. I still have problems with my ankle that I injured walking almost three years ago. Now I'm far too embarassed to go have it checked out. How stupid would that sound...I hurt my ankle three years ago. The girl that I teach with had surgery with Dr. (lady) Anderson last summmer for carpal tunnel and really liked her. Hope all goes well with your therapy. You, Rhonda and I have got to get out soon!!!!!!!


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