Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Iatric Odyssey

It was just a twist to the right while bending over four weeks ago which caused an ambulance ride to the ER for relief from the stabbing pain in my right hip/kidney area. Two days before, a similar but lesser pain took me to my Primary Care Physician who thought "kidney stones" and ordered a CT scan which showed no such. Then came the following over time:

five X-rays
two CT scans
one MRI
one colonoscopy
six doctors and specialists
two hundred and sixty pain meds (mostly not used because of side effects)
fifteen muscle relaxing meds
one hundred eighty nerve meds
thirty anti-inflammatory meds (not taken)
six mg morphine in the ambulance to ER
♫♪ and a partridge in a pear tree ♫ ♫

I sat in 5 waiting rooms with inner-sanctum exam rooms to match, waited for 3 hours max in one such room and learned to take something to read--preferably a novel since magazines may not be long enough for the wait. Household tip on those medical "gowns" you are asked to strip down and wear: tie all of the bows first and then put the gown on over your head with the bows in the back. This saves you having to tie a bow in the middle of your back, or have the nurse do it-- which is worse.

This, the last place to visit, should have been the first since my problem was orthopedic in nature. A lower spinal-column interference between the bones causing them to pinch nerve when the positioning is just right.
A procedure with four needles to inject some cortisone, with another CT to guide the needles was done. It's been a minimal solution at best.
This facility sees 500 patients on some days and is apparently central Missouri's place to go if you have any bone/joint problems --it is chock full of the walking wounded, like myself.
One of my problems with health-care in this experience (besides the fact that the offices cannot schedule patients very well) is that the record keeping is not ready for prime time. I had to three times pick up CD copies of CT scan and X rays from the local hospital and carry them to specialists I was to see--- fill out a form and sign for my records and physically carry them to the appointment. Instead of a regional or even national data base of patient records which can be accessed as necessary by physicians, there are small collections of records at each doctor's office (usually paper) not available to any other doctor unless hoops are jumped through and luck is yours. My doctor will not give me some records but will fax them to another doctor at my request (I have recently found out (HIPAA requirements) that I can request all records from any doctor who has my records, and I plan to request such to build my own medical file so that it is available as needed). A lot of these procedures and tests are not likely to produce any helpful results but done as CYA by the doctor .
I am in hopes that the present Congress can update and modernize this system.

The Hieronymus Bosch painting above is called "The Stone Operation" . In15th century northern European times montebanks (quacks) would propose cutting out stones from those suffering from stupidity or headaches or any number of cranial problems. They would make a little cut on the patient, present some bloody stones, and charge to rid him of the malady. Bosch, maybe the first surrealist, is making fun of this practice by showing tulip blossoms being taken from the patient as witnessed by odd people --I really like the inverted funnel on the "doctor" and the book on the woman's head. The text above and below the painting says: "Master cut the stone out. My name is Lubbert Das"

Years from now our medical system will seem just as antique to those, as the painting does to us now!!