Procrastination is not always a good thing
Over the last year I have had a pain in my right shoulder. At first it was off and on. I would rest and it would go away. I really didn’t think that much about it as I am 53 years old and one expects to have some aches and pains as we age. Six months ago the pain became more frequent, I thought “wow maybe I should get this checked out” and went about my life not following through on my thought. Three months ago the pain became somewhat constant and increased in intensity. I made the decision to get it checked out and promptly forgot to make an appointment. Most men are like that, we complain and moan about something, then fail to actually do anything about it. At least that is what my wife tells me. 🙂
Finally a month ago I got home from work and the pain was so bad that I literally wanted to cry. My wife, the saint that she is, informed me that had I made the appointment with the doctor like I said I was going to do then maybe I would be better by now. How could I argue with logic like that. The fact of the matter was that I was afraid that I was going to find out what I did, but that is later.
I made the appointment with my doctor. A kindly man, Welker by name, that is not too busy. I got in on a Friday, a day that they are usually closed, at 1030 in the morning. (I wonder why we put that “in the morning” I am sure you wouldn’t think “oh that was at night”) When I started to explain to the nurse my problem, she gave me that “I’ve heard this story a thousand times” look. Of course she said all the right things, how they would get to the solution and I would feel better line.
As an aside, I wonder why the nurse asks me what is wrong and makes all kinds of notes, when the doctor comes into the room he asks the same questions. I sometimes feel like they are playing good cop – bad cop to see if I give them the same story. I mean it is written right there in front of him, the funny thing is when I finish my story for the second time he looks down at the chart as if to say “yep, that’s what you told the nurse”.
The doctor has me sit on that bed like thing that seems to be in all doctors offices. (I wish I would have invented that thing) You know the one that has the paper sheet and the little built in pillow that never really feels like a pillow. Dr. Welker then asks me to do all of the movements that just minutes ago I told him makes my shoulder hurt. He must be well versed in torture techniques as he asks me to push against his hands and try to lift as he pushes down on my hands. I try not to wince too bad, but realize in the back of my mind that is what he really is looking for. I call this procedure being poked and prodded. I don’t like it and wish that I didn’t have to go through it every time I go in with an ache or pain. It is, however, inevitable.
So after the poke and prod session the doctor sits on his little round wheeled stool, and says to me “well I think that there is something wrong with your shoulder.” Really Einstein? “I am going to need to get some x-rays to see exactly what, but I think that your rotator cuff is damaged”. This is why I had put off going to the doctor. Those were the words that I was afraid to hear.
I couldn’t get into get x-rays till the next Monday as most places don’t stay open on the weekend, and procrastination kicked in again. I mean if I don’t have confirmation then nothing is really wrong – right? So I went into the place and lo and behold the Doctors office had forgotten to put in the reason why I needed that x-ray in the little box on the request form and forgot to sign it. Now for some reason the x-ray place will not take your word for it, I told them that it was due to constant pain in my shoulder. Why would I lie? Why would you want to get unneeded x-rays? So I couldn’t get them done on Monday as the doctors office was already closed for the day when I went to try and get the x-ray. The next morning I went to the doctors office and asked them to put in the reason and sign the form. No problem. I went back to the Urgent care center where I get my x-rays (not that I get a lot of x-rays) and checked in with the same person that I tried to get in with the day before. She looked at the form carefully, almost as if to say “did you fill this in yourself”? I just smiled and answered her questions cheerfully. Let her think what she wanted to. Now when I go to the clinic I expect to wait at least a half an hour so I usually like to read the magazines that they inevitably have. Much to my surprise they didn’t have any, not one, they had the local paper but not one magazine. I look back at that and am still amazed, a doctors clinic with out so much as one magazine. I mean really what do they expect you to do while sitting there?
Maybe they psychically heard me complaining because in like 5 minutes I heard this melodic voice call my name. I look up and this very young woman is standing there waiting for someone to answer the call. I stand up and start walking towards her, her face lights up with a angelic smile. Have you ever met someone that you immediately take a liking to? If not then you have never met this woman. We went back to the room where this HUGE machine is to take the x-rays. She asks me if I would mind taking off my shirt, or do I need a gown. Now I am of the opinion that most people are prudes. They will go to the beach and lie around with little more than what can only be called underwear, yet they won’t go without their shirts to get an x-ray. I am taking my shirt off as I am telling this young woman my opinion, she laughs easing the tension. We go through all the motions to get the x-rays taken care of. She is gentle and kind, always asking if it hurts when she moves me around. Sometime during the whole time I realize that she is treating me like a kindly old grandfather. It was a little disconcerting, as I realized that I could be her grandfather. We got through the x-ray in good spirits and without killing my shoulder.
The follow up
On Thursday my doctor’s office calls me and wants me to come in for a follow up on the x-rays. I said I was available the next morning were they going to be open. They were so I went in to talk to them. Doctor Welker said that I had a calcium build up in my rotator cuff area and that I would need to go see a specialist. Damn! Now it was confirmed, I had been reading up on the subject and did not really like what I had found out. All of the web sites that I had visited talked about surgery or cortisone shots, neither of which I really wanted to do. I am not one of those “sit there” kind of people in the doctor’s office. I ask questions, I ask them to explain things, I make them earn their money from me and my insurance company. Doctor Welker, I think, has figured this out so he just volunteers information that he thinks I am going to ask. Usually he is right on target, lately I have found things to ask that he hasn’t thought of. This time though he was right on target. I think I was too stunned to play our little game. He filled out the referral for the specialist, DR. Green, and off I went. Oh and with a prescription of Lortab for the pain. The specialist office didn’t call me till Monday and informed me that the doctor would be out of the office till the 20th and would I want to come in and see the PA or wait for the doctor. Nothing against the PA but their diagnosis would just have to be confirmed, which would mean another visit and another co-pay. I decided to wait for the doctor.
I made an appointment for Friday at 10:20 (in the morning) and began, for me, the agonizing wait. To make matters worse, my shoulder seemed to be getting worse every day. I would come home at night and take one of my pain pills and be useless the rest of the evening. I am not a big pain pill person, I don’t really like how they make me feel and my mind just doesn’t seem to work while I take them. After a couple of days they really didn’t seem to work very well at relieving the pain. I didn’t take them while I was at work. I need my wits with me when I am there.
By Friday I was at my wits end, all I wanted to do was get this over with. I woke up that morning and realized that my shoulder was in agony. I just couldn’t go to work in this kind of pain, so I didn’t.
I watched some of my favorite shows that we record on the DVR (digital video recorder) and tried to get my shoulder to stop hurting. It didn’t. My wife, was happy that I had decided to take care of me before my job, and she babied me a little which always makes me feel better. Off to the doctor we go, I had already filled out the new patient paper work that I printed off the website.
I am a pretty personable kind of guy, I try to make people that I just meet at ease. I joke and generally have a good time. Even though I had a what most would consider a good excuse I greeted the receptionist jovially and tried to make the whole checking in thing go well and it did. There were other people waiting, which is never a good sign, it usually means that the doctor is behind schedule and he was.
However I only had to wait about 10 min in the lobby, I got called back to take x-rays, when I asked why they didn’t just use the ones I had taken the week before the technician said that they weren’t sent over. I wondered why not as she set me up for the procedure. They only took two new ones where as the first set was like 10. I guess they were experts at reading x-rays.
They moved me into the exam room. I wait for what seems like 20 min. in walks this perky young woman, who tells me that she is the PA and will be doing the initial exam. She does all of the same Poke and Prod session that my doctor did and more all the while writing in the file. When she was done I was in major pain, and I knew that deep in my heart that the doctor would do the same thing. I was not disappointed. The PA said that I had probably torn my rotator cuff but that the doctor would more than likely want to confirm with an MRI. I have to admit that is exactly what happened. Dr Greene came in and did his own Poke and Prod session, only not as much as the PA, and said basically the same thing that the PA did. We could a) do an MRI and confirm that my rotator cuff is torn b) schedule surgery based on the x-ray or c) do some steroid shots.
I hate…. Really hate shots. I decided that confirming the diagnosis was the best idea.
So next Thursday, the 27th, I go in at 7:00 A.M. to get an MRI. I have never had an MRI, but in this information age I have goggled it. I have watched you tube videos about it. I am probably more informed about the MRI than I was when I got my Gall Bladder out in 1989. It looks like a rather simple procedure. I don’t see where there will be any pain involved, unless they do a Poke and Prod session first.
The biggest issue I have now will be working till we decide how to fix it and get it done. Just writing this has been a exercise in writing some and resting, writing some and resting. I cannot live on pain pills. My life revolves around using my mind and arms to use a computer. If I can’t do that then I am screwed. Although I may get the dragon software and use voice recognition. Now that would be cool… I will keep everyone here posted as we progress… I wonder if I can get someone to shoot my MRI for you tube????