I have a story.
A few years ago (three+ to be slightly more precise), I noticed that my shoulder hurt. The more I did, the more it hurt, until I cringed every time one of my lovable kids at work yanked on it. It hurt to brush my teeth, or stretch up to grab something from a cupboard, and reaching across my midline to adjust my purse was agony.
I did what I had to do and endured the several hour wait at a walk-in clinic to see a doctor (yay for four year waiting lists for GPs in Montreal!), so he could move my arm in a circle, ignore my comments about what hurt and what didn’t, prescribe me some anti-inflammatory meds, suggest physio if I felt I needed it, and sent me along my merry way. For a long time I felt that he didn’t do a bad job per se, but it certainly wasn’t good, and definitely wasn’t thorough. I also admitted some fault for not following through with physio but when a physician is that dismissive, it’s hard to take their recommendations as anything but shutting you up to get you out of their office.
Regardless, I sucked it up. I dealt with it, and my shoulder has been mostly okay, or at least tolerably uncomfortable since then.
(Un?)Fortunately, a few weeks ago, things went bad again. I’m not certain what set me off, putting bags in the trunk or my horrid and spastic flailing while playing Kinect. Whatever it was, I hurt worse than I could ever remember hurting. To be honest, I couldn’t even wash my own hair one day because my arm just didn’t go there.
Right away, I went to see my doctor (Yep, I have a GP in Ottawa thanks to a friend alerting me that hers was taking new patients. I had only been in the province a few months and it was a welcome difference from my glorious waiting list in Mtown). She did a thorough examination, made some assessments, and referred me to a sports injury specialist. The sports doctor did an even more thorough examination, made some more assessments, told me to avoid meds at all cost, and made a referral for a MRI. Both doctors agreed that I have tendinitis with rotator-cuff impingement; the sports physician also noting that I have scapular weakness and dysfunction (for some reason this made me really sad… I think it’s the word dysfunction). They also both wrote specific prescriptions for physiotherapy, which I took to heart this time.
I was thrilled. Ecstatic, to be exact. It was a pleasant surprise to be listened to, having my concerns and specific experiences taken into account. I didn’t feel like I was needlessly whining anymore. I felt like I had valid complaints.
Today I saw my new physiotherapist. After three doctors and more than three years of shoulder pain and discomfort, she discovered that a part of the original injury also included a torn bicep tendon. Admittedly, I was floored. I was pleased some of my mysteries were being solved, but also annoyed that this piece had been missed repeatedly.
My recent doctors had been so thorough, yet they were only human, committing small oversights. My original doctor? Shame on him, he missed everything and didn’t even care enough to ask the right questions… but I refuse to hold him entirely accountable. I should have gotten a second opinion. With that said, this experience speaks volumes about the healthcare system in Ontario, and even more about that in Quebec (For the record, I know that there are many good doctors in Quebec and I don’t intend to bash them but the system itself needs some work so that patients can be heard.).
So, I’ve felt dismissed, sad, thrilled, humbled, ecstatic, validated, confused and annoyed… all over a silly shoulder injury which I should have taken seriously years ago. Ugh.
But now that I’m surrounded by caring and attentive healthcare professionals, I’ve decided that there’s something more important to feel… And I believe fully that we can decide a majority of our feelings, largely based on attitude, so I regularly choose to feel something positive when there are many confusing signals.
Today, I’ve decided to be grateful. Things are looking up… just don’t ask me to reach for them – yet.