My life kind of fell apart there for a while

It does seem to do that on at least a semi-regular basis. It’s like a horrible dance where I take two steps forward and then three steps back. On the 7th of September, I managed to hurt one of my last remaining good joints while doing that most basic of things: walking up a staircase. The good news is, it happened while I was heading into work, so it’s now a worker’s comp issue. The bad news is, it happened while I was heading into work, so it’s now a worker’s comp issue. Worker’s comp is apparently designed to slowly drive people crazy, so they just fall to the floor weeping instead of trying to get better. I reported it to my immediate supervisor immediately, and from there it went to HR. HR sent me to see a doctor to evaluate my injury. The doctor examined my knee, took x-rays, and then tried contorting my leg into all sorts of positions that may or may not be listed in the Kama Sutra, but really should not be attempted while fully clothed and with a doctor you’ve just met. He then told me that it appears that I have “patellofemoral syndrome.” Unfortunately, I am well familiar with that horrible diagnosis, from having discovered it in my left knee some years ago. For those who don’t know what it is, and don’t feel up to researching it, essentially, it’s a structural weakness wherein my kneecap (aka patella) slides out of the groove at the top of the femur (shin bone) and kinda off to the side. Ouch. It wasn’t any fun when I had to deal with it in my left knee, and after babying my left knee for the greater part of the past 26 years, I guess it was only a matter of time before the right knee decided that life was just unfair and it wasn’t going to play nicely anymore.

So, the nice doctor asked me if I was familiar with the diagnosis, and I said that yes, I had been dealing with it for years now in my left knee, and realized the path I was going to be merrily wandering down. So, he set me up with a nice new knee brace and an authorization for physical therapy twice a week for the next three weeks, with a follow up appointment in 2 weeks to see how it was doing. I went for my physical therapy, which I will say is QUITE enjoyable, as my therapist is extremely easy on the eyes and has a great sense of humor, as does all his staff, so there’s a lot of joking around while we’re, uh, therapy-ing. After the two weeks, I went back for my follow up appointment, but instead of the nice doctor, I get a different doctor. He glanced at my chart, and at my knee, and asked me to describe what had happened, so I did. He then told me that since I am not a runner, and “these things don’t just happen as an adult” that it couldn’t possibly be patellofemoral syndrome and that it was likely just a mild sprain, and to ice it at least twice a day and come back in 4 weeks. I told him that my PT had advised me that I needed a patellofemoral brace. The doctor told me there was no such thing. I rebutted him by telling him that in the 40 minutes I had spent in the exam room waiting for him, I was able to locate several medical supply companies that sell them, so they must exist. He provided me with a different kind of brace, with no side hinges, which was basically just a neoprene Ace bandage and sent me on my way. When I tried to book my appointment, it turned out that his next available appointment was not for five weeks, apparently. So, I took the appointment I was offered, even though that would leave a gap of 3 weeks past my final physical therapy appointment and the doctor’s appointment. After talking to my PT the next day, he said that the diagnosis could not be more wrong, and gave me advice on the exact type of brace that I need, including the manufacturer and style number, in order to help repair the damage while I am building up the muscles again. So, I called the doctor’s office and explained, and the nice receptionist told me that I could come in sooner, in just three weeks.

So, I let my PT know this when I saw him the next day, and was also told that my worker’s comp had authorized an additional 6 visits for me. Yay for more PT! I went back to the doctor, and he looks at my knee and says that there doesn’t appear to be any swelling, and asked how my PT was going. I handed him the printout of the brace my therapist wants me to use and he derisively tossed it towards my file and asked me if I was still going to PT and how often. I told him that I was going twice a week, and he asked me why I was still going since I was only approved for 6 appointments. I told him that I had been approved for a further 6 appointments, and he sniffed about how no one advised him. He then told me that he could try to talk to the insurance to see if they would consider ordering “this overpriced brace” but that it wasn’t likely to be approved, since one brace is just as good as another if used properly. He advised me to drop to one PT appointment a week if I felt that I needed to go, because it was a waste of time. He also told me that since I showed no improvement at all, that it’s likely that “whatever [I] have is likely never going to improve” and that I should just learn to live with the pain. He then changed my diagnosis from “right knee sprain” to “unspecified right knee pain.” He then mumbled something about it being very inconvenient that I was only willing to see him on Thursdays, and so the next time he could see me would be in five weeks. I stated that I didn’t feel the need to see him at all if that made him feel better, because I’d rather see an orthopedist. I did, however, dutifully make an appointment for five weeks to go back and see him.

Then, I wrote to my worker’s comp company and advised them that I need a new doctor, preferably one who knows something about bone structure. I also notified my HR, to see if they could be of assistance to me in getting a new doctor. So far, nothing. It has become a running joke at my PT appointments that there is nothing wrong with my knee, and I come just for the joking around and other tomfoolery. I have an appointment with my regular physician for this coming Thursday for my annual physical, which I have skipped for the past two years, because I hate his new office staff. I’m glad I decided to call 5 weeks ago to schedule this physical, because it gives me a chance to discuss the whole situation with a doctor whom I respect and trust, to see what he thinks I should do.

Unfortunately, because of all this added stress in my life, along with everything else I’ve previously written about, my “anti-crazy” drugs have pretty much stopped working for me, and I’m in a constant state of just-on-the-edge-of-a-nervous-breakdown. And, in a classic example of negative feedback loops, the stress that I am going through is causing me to be not as good at my job, which is causing my immediate supervisor to come down on me for every little thing she thinks I’m doing wrong, even if no one else in the department gets in trouble for the same thing, which in turn, increases my stress, which…. well, you get the point.

Are you still reading this? Wow. I’m impressed.

So, essentially, I could have shortened this post to: “I got an owie, and doctors are stupid, but my physical therapist is fun.”

It’s one of those times where I just have to try to laugh at everything, because otherwise, I give in to the anxiety, and I refuse to let it win. If anyone still reading at this point knows of some good advise for me (aside from “get an attorney” because I can’t afford one) please let me know. I’m trying to win this game, but I don’t know the rules, and the referees are all hiding somewhere else.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Hab
    Oct 14, 2013 @ 22:28:52

    Oh, Es. I really am sorry. I know that doesn’t help, and I don’t have any good advice to offer, because I am walking a similar path… chronic pain from a work injury, a disorder that causes more pain, and no indication or prognosis than it is only going to get worse from here. It is a difficult path to walk at best. There are many days that I can’t even find anything to hope for and only manage to put a face on for my family/friends so not to cause them any more worry/distress than I already do. I honestly believe, as I have probably told you before, that we are walking our respective paths for a reason. What that reason is, I can not even begin to guess. Most days I content myself with merely being thankful for the day and for having people that love me no matter what in my life. Other days, I hope for something better… I try different medication regimens, behavioral therapy, meditation, vitamins/herbs, subliminal recordings; anything that might help. I even have days where I think about (in a “believing” kind of way) things that I want to do still – projects, art, whatever. Rarely do I manage to do those things, but it gives me hope, somehow. The only thing I CAN do is take one day at a time and do the best I can with whatever I can manage in that day. I don’t know if any of this hellps or only makes you more depressed, but just know you are not alone. Sending prayers and good thoughts your way, dear Es. *HUGS*

    Reply

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