[Tripping On…] Correct Next Steps

My insurance company wants to take as long as possible to assess my situation remotely before approving anything. This could lead to my permanent disability. They are not particularly concerned. I met with my spine doctor again today, the one that would be doing surgery, if things continue to decrease, and it looks like, yes, my left leg and foot have decreased in mobility. I’m going to do these next steps tomorrow, when I’m rested…

The main thing is I have a prescription for physical therapy.

It may not do much, but at least we can see if there is anything on that front that can be done, based on the paperwork that my doctor gave me. The PT might, given the MRI results and my doctor’s recommendation, do different physical therapy exercises, or maybe they have a horizontal traction machine? Maybe there’s something they can do to help reduce the overall pain to my spine? Maybe that can even help decrease the pain to my back and even help with the numbness to my left leg?

Next, I’ll schedule an appointment with a new primary care physician.

This may not be much more than a mere technicality of seeing a different doctor, but they might be able to refer me to a Rheumatologist or suggest an alternative to the pain specialist that I had been seeing that seemingly dropped my case off at the ER’s doorstep without giving me any dignity. I would do all of this today, but I’m much too tired to even try this out now, and besides, writing this is a good way for me to summarize my actions tomorrow when I’m more well-rested.

I’m worn out from the drive there and back.

I had planned a healthy amount of time to commute there, but they called to schedule at the last minute, due to another patient cancelation. That’s fine. I tried driving up to this location – I’d never been there before – but I got lost. Twice. I arrived late. Fortunately, they didn’t seem to mind much. Maybe they couldn’t shuffle the appointments around too much or maybe I look as tired and as pained as I feel by now.

My left leg is really starting to worry me now.

The doctor says we’re close but he doesn’t currently think there’s any long-term nerve damage, but that isn’t to say that if the insurance company doesn’t screw around for another month deciding whether my case is worth their time that things will change. I’m becoming less comfortable by the day. I need to learn to readjust my lifestyle so that my spine can become more comfortable throughout the day. That should help things along, but I also know that I’m gambling with my health each time I do anything other than sitting or lying still.

On the drive home, I thought about what would happen if my leg stopped working.

It wouldn’t be a life-ending situation, it would just be a life-changing situation. I would never be able to row quite the same way again, I wouldn’t be able to go adventuring to the same capacity, nor be as independent as I’ve been for the past ten years. Would I need a cane or wheelchair? Would I need to move? How would I coordinate the logistics? I’m not particularly depressed about this possible outcome of reality. If it happens, then what else can I do then everything I’ve been doing? I would just have become the victim of the American Healthcare System, in all of its infinite wisdom, considering its red tape more important than my life.

What else can I do but just proceed with all the steps I’m going to do?

By going through physical therapy and talking to a new PCP, this means I’m being as proactive as I can, even if it means I’m wearing myself down faster. I’ve done the best that I can to minimize the damage to my nerves and my spine over the past few weeks and it hasn’t seemed to help, so if my insurance company would rather knowingly proceed against my doctor’s better judgment, they – who will never meet me, never see me, never actually treat me as a patient, but rather just look at me as a patient number, with some sort of coding system, then that’s the system as it stands.

If this disgusts you, and it’s not too late for me, let’s see if we can do something about it.

I’m trying my best by writing as publically as I can about all of this. That the Staff Clinician in charge of my case is fully aware of what my doctor told me about my nerve possibly severing and has turned away, well, I do hope to make a full recovery and that nothing should ever happen with that information. Wouldn’t that be malpractice? Willingly knowing that a patient was advised by a fellow colleague and turning away?

At the end of my notes, I wrote this:

Can I also have a second opinion on your judgment on my case so far? I am not sure that you are proceeding with the care and respect that a staff clinician would, if they were to see my condition in person.

I am fighting for my life here.

This is absolutely disgusting, but I remember back to what my colleague that passed away this past week told me. Some of his family worked in healthcare and had stories like mine of medical negligence. I thought about him on the drive back home, too. I gave him a ride about a month before I went on medical leave. I considered him a friend and I’m sad that he passed. I know that if I told him about all this bullshit I was fighting through, he’d still want me to talk to his family to get some ideas on what next steps to do.

In lieu of that, I think acting on the above will help.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: My personal experiences.
Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.
Picture: Template
Written On: 2020 July 30 [7:58pm to 8:30pm]
Last Edited: 2020 July 30 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.