Two steps forward, one step back

Two steps forward, one step back.  Something happened last weekend to my back, and I couldn’t figure out why I was in such pain.  Bretta’s diagnosis helped, but when I went to the doctor and PT later in the week, they both blanched at the report that I had 3 ribs and 5 vertebrae out of place.  The PT refused to treat me, sending me to another PT, a specialist.  The doctor, well, let’s listen in on part of the conversation that she and I had when I went in on Thursday.

Me: I’ve just finished a year of treatment for Stage III cancer, and I seem to be having some side effects.

Dr.: Okay.  What kind of side effects?

Me: Well, the right side of my back hurts a lot.  My lymphedema therapist thinks that the muscle underneath my arm was fried a bit by the radiation, and it’s pulling across my back and pulling the ribs out from under my spine.  After months of trying to figure it out, we think that’s what’s happening.  I need a treatment plan.

Dr: A treatment plan?

Me: Yes.  I need a referral to a PT in my health insurance plan who can help me with the muscle, to my radiation oncologist for my 6 month checkup, and to a specialist who can help me with the pain.

Dr: We’ll see about that.  I’m not giving you anything until I examine you.

Me (meekly): Okay.

Dr: Take your shirt off.

Me (doing it): Okay.

The doctor brusquely makes a note in my chart and turns away to check something.  When she turns back around, I’m naked from the waist up, all scars and burns and lumps in strange places.

She blanches.

Without touching me, she looks for just a minute, and then says, “Okay.  Now let’s get you those referrals.”


I walked out of there 15 minutes later with 3 referrals and a promise to help me get the lymphedema treatment covered too.

I’ve never been so relieved to be so visibly damaged.


11 Responses to Two steps forward, one step back

  1. Lori says:

    Some docs can’t handle patients who know what they need. I guess she figured out pretty quickly that you’re not just any patient. I hope the referrals do the trick and your back feels better soon!

  2. Robin says:

    I blanched myself – with anger at that doctor.

    I’m glad you were able to get what you needed. I’m sorry she made you prove it first.

  3. Susan K says:

    I imagine a lot of doctors get a lot of patients who “know” exactly what they need. You know, because Oprah or the Today Show or an article in some magazine did a story on it and suddenly EVERYONE has it or needs it or whatever. Well certainly your specifics were not the usual, run of the mill, I need this, the Dr. probably knee-jerked. No fun, but at least the point was made quickly and you didn’t have to spend an hour proving it!

    Doctors bowing to patients’ demands without determining the problem for themselves are part of the reason health care costs are through the roof and we have ever-stronger, more drug resistant bacteria. The bed side manner might have used a little work, but I sort of understand what happened here.

  4. Tina says:

    I hate it when doctors barely listen, don’t even examine then just tell you that there’s nothing wrong…or worse prescribe something you don’t need. When I was diagnosed with Melanoma my first doctor wouldn’t even look, second doc was great removing the cancer and several other suspicius spots. My parents moved us and so there was a new doc who told me I was too young to have Melamona and refused to even treat me as a post cancer patient only as a teenager with a acne problem.

    I applaud your doc for conceeding when she needed to but she should have been a better listener. glad you’re getting taken care of.

  5. marty says:

    You weren’t asking for an antibiotic.

    Nor had you been watching the Today show.

    I also didn’t notice that you said Oprah had recommended a treatment plan for you. I believe it was your lymphedema specialist you quoted.

    I hope that this was the first and last time you see this doctor. There was no excuse, rising health care costs or not, for her behavior.

    I also hope that you were not only naked from the waist up but also flipping her off when she turned around.

  6. Ouch.

    Bet she felt pretty bad after that. Well I hope so.

    I understand how you feel, different but the same. Boo looks really good on paper and I fight and fight to just get his basic needs met, but when these people meet him face to face they get ‘that look’ and I get help.

    I sucks.

  7. Court says:

    it was so refreshing to read that you stuck it out with the stick-up-hiney doc. when you said you meekly were following the doc’s directions i understood because i would have been the same way but rock on for knowing what you needed and getting it!

  8. Ally says:

    Oh Susan, this made me sad that this doctor treated you with such little empathy. But like you said, on the flip side, you got those referrals real quick. I hope your back feels better soon!

  9. imstell says:

    Scarred on the outside, scarred on the inside. Visible scars causing invisible scars. The yin and yang of cancer.

    I’m glad she had the grace to rectify her error right away.

  10. Sarah S. says:

    I am sorry it happened that way but I am glad it got someone to listen! 🙂

  11. I am horrified by docs who don’t trust the patient to have useful information about her own case.

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