The Medical Maze
It was supposed to be simple. I received an email describing a new implantable device used to treat peripheral nerve pain from the company that manufactures the device I use to treat my drop foot condition. The implant is minimally invasive and highly effective at disrupting the pain signal from nerves to the brain.
You can read about my long journey of living with constant pain for closer to 20 years now here:
I proceeded to research the new product online. I contacted the company for more information. It looked promising. The website claimed the treatment is particularly effective for post-stroke shoulder pain with video testimonials from actual patients who were very pleased. I have forgotten what life is like without constant pain in my left shoulder. It has become normal for me, but I know it’s not supposed to be like this.
I decided to pursue the new treatment. The manufacturer gave me the name of a physician in the state who does the implant. I made an appointment for the consult on October 16th.
I traveled 105 miles by car each way for the appointment. The doctor looked over my records I had forwarded from another doctor regarding the history of treatment for this pain in my shoulder. He told me the new treatment was a “slam dunk” in my case, and I could expect at least a 30% reduction in pain if not 100%. I mentioned that I had traveled quite a long way and asked about how many visits are normally required. He told me he could do the treatment at a location about 50 miles nearer to my home.
I left the office with another appointment for November 7th. The staff told me I would get a phone call the day before with a time. I was pleased it seemed this was going to progress quickly. I allowed myself to be excited about a hopeful possibility.
The doctor’s office called a week before the scheduled procedure to tell me that the surgery center where it had been set up would not allow me to be admitted because I have a history of stroke. What. the. actual. fuck? I need the treatment because I had a stroke. Why did the doctor not know this before he told me it would be a “slam dunk”? I was told the surgery center’s anesthesiologists’ policy was not to treat people with cardiac issues. I do not have any cardiac issues. I had a stroke 20 years ago that was caused by a congenital defect. The doctor knew this.
The scheduler on the phone suggested another location might be possible if I got clearance from my cardiologist because of my cardiac issues. I explained that I don’t have either a cardiologist or cardiac issues. An argument ensued about whether a stroke is a cardiac issue. Neither of us was a doctor, but I do know that I do not have any cardiac issues. She gave me a new date at another location pending getting said clearance.
I left several messages for the doctor to call me to discuss where he could do the implant. He never called me back.
I contacted the manufacturer to let them know that their product was not being handled well. They contacted the office and tried to intervene on my behalf. They were told that the doctor’s office was waiting for me to contact them. My head spun. I contacted them and have been given the proverbial run around.
The scheduler told me on Wednesday of this week that the doctor would be in on Thursday and she would talk to him about his schedule and what we could do about this. I followed up with her on Friday to let her know I did not get a call on Thursday. She said the doctor was in surgery all day and never made it in to the office so she could talk to him.
I don’t know, but isn’t this 2018 where we have cell phones, FaceTime, email and beepers whereby we are all in constant contact with each other? Why tell someone you would get an answer the next day and let them know if you didn’t know for sure you could? Maybe she should have said “I have no idea when the doctor will be in or how we can resolve your issue, and I have no intention of calling you back?” I left a message for the office manager about my dissatisfaction with their service. She told me the doctor did not return to the office on Thursday and they can’t schedule anything for him unless he is there in the office with them. He is supposed to be in on Monday and she will discuss it with him then. She said she will call on Monday with a date.
I concluded that this doctor and his staff are incompetent. If something is a “slam dunk”, it shouldn’t take over three weeks to schedule it in this high tech age. I will start the process again with another doctor at another location next week.
It’s clear to me that the newness of the treatment is a big part of the problem. I am paving the way for others to hopefully get through this process with much less trouble.
Someone has to go first…stay tuned.
Thank you for reading :)