When Dr. Wonderful recommended a pain management doctor, I was eager to take advantage of another specialist, a part of a team. I felt hopeful, especially after I researched the different modalities used to treat pain caused by the kind of spinal cord damage that I have.
It is time consuming and exhausting to get to multiple doctor appointments. It is stressful going to someone new. But Dr. W. had said this guy was the best and ‘a good listener’, so I envisioned a consult where I would tell him my history, we would discuss all my options and he would be a guide for my best choices.
The office is sumptuous in a tacky way and very smoothly operated. A tech, who spoke so quickly I didn’t understand a word she said, took my vitals. A Physicians’ Assistant came in and asked where my pain usually was. She did a half-baked neuro assessment and looked at the MRI films I brought with me. She examined them with a furrowed brow and I suspected she had no idea what she was looking at. I pulled up another film. “Do you want the sagittal or the medial view?” heh heh I was proud of that.
She said what she put up, a side view of my cervical spine, was plenty. Then she said the doctor would be right in.
He did appear after a few minutes. I was sitting on the examining table, as I had been told to. He stood on the other side of the room leaning against a cabinet, reading some notes. He asked where my pain was. He frowned and said, “This problem is neurological, there is nothing I can do for it. I will give you Lyrica and you come back in 4 weeks.” He made for the door. I thought of my research and said “But don’t you treat people with pain from Transverse Myelitis?” “No” he said, “call your neurologist, that is who should take care of that. The Lyrica will help.”
And he was gone.
He never examined me, never even came near me, didn’t ask my history, barely even asked me a question, never mind was a good listener. He literally was in the room for less than three minutes.
I sat there for a second, simply stunned. I had thought I would be leaving full of hope at the possibility of a reduction of my constant pain in the future. Instead, I got the bum’s rush. I was so upset I was literally breathless. By the time I got to the car I was crying. What the heck just happened? Where was the ‘team approach’? This doctor could not have been less interested in me. The visit was a complete waste of time.
I guess there are other pain specialists out there. But when you are sick, chasing down good care, finding someone who is not like Dr. You’re Boring Me, is utterly demoralizing. You get labeled as demanding or difficult when you hold someone to high standards, even though everyone should.
Some people think I am brave, but really I’m not. I’m a miserable coward. The likelihood of having intractable pain for the rest of my life leaves me reeling. The idea that a physician who treats pain would be so indifferent and dismissive is infuriating, beyond frustrating. The prospect of having to fight to get what I need is overwhelming.
I don’t know how he is going to bill my insurance company when he never did anything. I don’t know how I am going to handle this, if I will bother letting him know how upset I am. I do know I am furious that I was dismissed the way I was, especially after the research I did. I know there is treatment out there and I am going to find it.
But first I need a lie down. And then maybe an entire peanut butter cream pie from Wegman’s. Washed down with vodka. Lyrica-schmyrica.
I feel better already.