Monday, January 5, 2009

I really don't like doctors.....(rant to follow)

Well, last Wednesday I went to the orthopedist for the follow up visit for my elbow.
It had been 5 weeks since “the incident” and to be honest, its better, but not really better.
I’m not really in any pain as long as I don’t straighten the arm, rotate the wrist or try to lift anything more than a few pounds.
Basically I can ride the bike and I can ski as long as I remember to keep the arm bent.

So, before the doctor will see me I have to go to x-ray to get an updated picture, after which I go in to see the orthopedist, Dr Elliott.
What I didn’t realize was that in order to earn the title of orthopedist you have to pass a class on being entirely clueless while at the same time being able to make your patient feel like an idiot…..

Now, that may seem a little harsh, but here’s how the appointment went.
Dr – Hello Mr Sims, what seems to be the problem?
Me – Um…I’m here for the follow up on my elbow
Dr – (looking at x-ray) hmmm…..looks good. You’re all set.
Me – uh….no, I’m not. It still hurts to straighten my arm, rotate my wrist or lift anything
Dr – why is that?
Me - ?????? I don’t know
Dr – well the x-ray shows nothing is broken, hold out your arm (at which point she puts one hand under my elbow and straightens my arm with the other. “see, I can straighten your arm”
Me – curse, swear, mumble, mutter……uh…that’s pretty painful
Dr – well, it’s just from not using it. You’ll be fine.
Me – so, this big lump on the side, the grinding noise when I extend my arm, and the pain are all normal?
Dr – (looking at the x-ray a little closer) well, there’s this area here…wait here while I consult one of my colleagues….
Dr - 10 minutes later - Well, evidently this area here is new bone growth which indicates there was a fracture. But we don’t normally see new bone growth this quickly with someone your age (ability to insult your patients is obviously another requirement for the title of orthopedist)
Me – uh…but you said it wasn’t broken…..
Dr – yeah, well we were mainly looking at the area below the elbow, this bone is the one above the elbow.
Me – so what does that mean?
Dr – well, it appears to have been fractured, but it doesn’t appear to be now. It’s too hard to tell from the x-rays
Me – So maybe we should get an MRI so we can find out for sure
Dr – No, I don’t really think that’s warranted
Me – So, I just have to live with this the way it is?
Dr – No, you’ll be fine – you just need some physical therapy – what did you want a note to stay off work or something?
Me – no, I’d just like the full use of my arm again
Dr – well, we won’t know if that’s possible until after physical therapy – start the therapy and we’ll see you again in 3 weeks for another x-ray and follow up….

So, after spending my morning at the doctor’s office, I left with absolutely no information, feeling like I was being a total wuss, unsure as to whether my arm was indeed fractured or not, pretty disgruntled with Kaiser and the orthopedist and with more questions than answers….
Do I bother to go to P.T.?
Was my arm really fractured or not?
Will my arm get back to normal?
Should I get a second opinion or just quit going to the doctor and let the arm heal on its own
- If I do let it just heal, will it be normal or will I be impaired
- If I go to PT – what if they make it worse

I guess my real frustration is that I’m not sure if the doctor was inept or just really doesn’t give a damn. If I took my car to a mechanic and he said, “I can’t tell you what’s wrong but you can probably just keep driving your car” would I continue to use him?
So, if she’s not inept and just doesn’t care, is that better or worse……
I really do not like doctors…….

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