I think I’m finally calm enough to write this post. I’ve been seething since my appointment with my shoulder surgeon to schedule my surgery.
I had been dealing with increasing pain and limitations in range of motion for approximately a year. Repeated imaging (X-rays and MRIs) did not show excessive amounts of arthritis damage but were also inconclusive about other causes. For lack of other options, steroid injections were prescribed (which didn’t work). If those didn’t provide improvement, then the only other option would be to replace the shoulder.
My surgeon is one of the best in his field and it’s common for him to conduct his patient visits with one or more fellows that are studying with him. (These are physicians who are furthering their specialties.) When I went in for my post-MRI, pre-surgery visit, one of these fellows came in to chat with me before the surgeon came in.
The first words out of his mouth were, “I see you have RA.”
I guess the good news is that he paid attention.
He went on to suggest that I might want to just treat my shoulder medically, i.e., via RA drugs, rather than surgically.
I don’t normally speak to medical professionals like I did that doctor. I explained that I was treating my RA medically under the guidance of one of the best rheumatologists in the region using a cocktail of sophisticated and advanced drugs combined with exercise and diet. This was not RA. I know what it feels like when it’s an RA flare, and this was not it.
Then the surgeon came in and I went through that explanation a second time. He finally agreed that we would go in with the scope to determine if there were something not showing up on the imaging studies and to see if there were some corrective/cleanup actions that could improve the situation.
If you have been following my blog, you know they found a severe rotator cuff tear which had been apparently getting worse over time. What really infuriates me is that last friggin’ October I told them I thought I had re-torn my rotator cuff and I had been living with the situation for a full year trying to convince them that something was wrong.
On one hand, I’m glad I have a conservative surgeon who doesn’t just jump into unnecessary surgery to collect insurance fees. On the other hand, I feel like that if I didn’t have RA, my complaints would have been taken more seriously earlier on and I would have been saved months of pain, sleepless nights, and limited motion.
Okay. So now I’m mad all over again.
I guess the point of this post is that so many of us search, sometimes for years, for a diagnosis which means that we can find a treatment plan and perhaps even remission. However, it apparently can put us in a pigeonhole in the eyes of some healthcare providers: “It hurts, so it must be her RA. There’s nothing else to be done.” The truth is, we are people and prone to the same injuries and illnesses as anyone else — perhaps even more so due to our disease and the associated treatment.
We as patients must make it incumbent upon our healthcare providers to see us as whole patients. It takes work and perseverance, but you are the patient and are therefore the only one who knows how you feel. In order to get the appropriate treatment, you must be able to make your healthcare provider understand that.
Thanks for letting me rant, and thanks for checking in.