Good news! I met with my new dual sports medicine and pain management doctor today. Although today’s meeting was similar to other meetings I’ve had with other doctors, there was one major difference between today’s meeting and others: actionable items. My general rule of thumb now is that if I meet with a doctor and that doctor doesn’t directly order any tests, that’s a red flag that they aren’t a good doctor. Let me explain:
I’ve had four physical examinations over the past month.
The first two were with Pain Management Doctor Number Two and Sports Medicine Doctor Number One. Both doctors were evasive in taking responsibility for my care and implied my treatment route. Pain Management Doctor Number Two checked to see my general mobility, checked to see that I was in pain, and after talking with me about pain medicine I’ve taken over the past few months, gave me no treatment other than referring me along for aquatherapy.
Using writing as an analogy, bad doctors use passive voice; good doctors use active voice.
By that, I mean, Pain Management Doctor Number One and Two, now that I think about it, both gave the advice that there were treatment plans available. But who would provide those treatment plans? Number One said my pain was a spine issue and that an Emergency Room visit and talking with a spine doctor – that same doctor I found out today is retiring [convenient] – would be my route to recovery. Number Two said that aquatherapy would be my route to recovery. Today’s doctor took ownership of my care and, were he these other two doctors, would have personally called the spine doctor or made the plans for aquatherapy with me in the room. That’s how the spine doctor that referred me along handled my care yesterday – referring me along isn’t passive, but if I have to go to the Emergency Room myself to explain the situation, guess what? They won’t give a shit. They won’t call the doctor to confirm things. The Emergency Room doctor will only look at you as you are, in the moment, without any sense of giving the patient the benefit of the doubt or acknowledging any paperwork you might bring along. However, if that doctor did what he said he was going to do – call the ER, and refer me along – then I wouldn’t have gone in as an uninvited new patient.
That was a bit messy, sorry, so let me clarify things a bit.
All of my negative experiences with doctors have been over their lack of ownership of my care. It’s easy enough for anyone to do. If you encounter a situation that is too difficult for you in life, you might say, ‘that’s too bad, it seems like it should be fixed, but it’s not my problem.’ I do that, you do it, and it’s perfectly fine in casual situations. If we can, we try to do things, but we can’t do everything, right? The many bad doctors I’ve met – yesterday’s spine doctor and today’s doctor [although, wow, I probably should only talk after my care is complete, right?] – is whether they approach the situation from the perspective of whether “someone” should fix the issue [passive voice] versus they should take ownership of the issue to fix it [active voice].
This new doctor took ownership of my issue.
He ordered specific blood work, which I’ll be doing tomorrow, along with a nerve test that I’ll be doing on Monday. He did the same sort of physical examination that the other doctors did, but rather than express the sort of apathy that the first two doctors had, where, wow, it sure does suck that this patient is in pain, he stopped the test early since I am at the point in my physical condition where I cannot lie on my stomach without experiencing pain. I can barely even walk. He put in a prescription for a walker at first, then a wheelchair rental, which I won’t be able to take for either one because I live in a second-story apartment.
He also addressed the pain management side of things.
By that point in our conversation, I was already so overwhelmed by the pain from doing a physical examination – where he asked me to lift up my toes, and he pressed down on them, and other lifting or pushing – to where when we talked about pain management, he was surprised that I was not taking any medicine. I told him that I was rationing out the remaining Oxycodone I received from surgery and that I took less than one 10mg pill per day. I didn’t need to tell him how rough my past month has been living each day wondering whether I could spare one of my remaining Oxycodone to that day’s pain, or whether I had to accept that my life was going to be hell because I wasn’t experiencing any health problems that seemed concerning.
My blood pressure has been a consistent 140/90 over my last few tests.
My blood pressure averages earlier this year were closer to 110/70 and I fully blame that increase in blood pressure to my chronic pain. I received a new prescription for Oxycodone, which I’m relieved to have, but not in the sense of feeding into a new addiction. I’m relieved because I was able to take 20mg of Oxycodone, as prescribed, and I am now feeling in acceptable shape. I still feel some minor pain through that amount of medicine, but I am trying my best to respect it for its addictive nature, but also realizing that this is probably going to be my route to recovery. With this doctor taking ownership of my pain management and care, for the first time in what feels like forever, I feel like I might actually be able to feel well at some point. At the very least, I won’t feel as terrible as I have felt.
I hope my optimism is not misguided.
|Sources: My personal experiences.|
|Inspirations: Writing about my life as it’s happening has been a great way to generate content and assess my life.|
|Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.|
|Written On: 2020 December 10 [11pm to 11:27pm]|
|Last Edited: 2020 December 10 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|