Scary Medicine

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This was NOT the topic I had in mind for today, but I just had to rant. Of late I have been bothered with annoying back pain, which is all the more annoying since it prevents me from sitting down at my computer for long periods. But all of that is not as annoying as my doctor’s visit was last week.

I went to a local orthopedist since I felt that my recent venture into the world of sit-ups, and/or the incessant lifting of my 28 pound grandchild, was the cause of this 8 week flare-up. Now I must admit my symptoms are a bit unusual. Below the painful knot near my shoulder blade, the skin is quite sensitive when leaning against a solid surface. To make things more complicated, movement agitates the afflicted area – and since simple breathing moves the muscle, there are times I would rather not engage in that activity. Then there is the itching and rippling.

Upon examination the doctor ruled out shingles since there was no rash (I later found out that shingles can be had sans rash!). Then he mentioned that the last person he saw with these symptoms had a pulmonary embolism. YIKES! He wanted to me go to my primary care doctor TODAY for a chest x-ray. After that, I didn’t hear anything else he said.  I just kept thinking, “What if I can’t get an appointment today? Will I die?” So I managed to scare my doctor’s secretary into squeezing me in.

Needless to say, I am still here – and I don’t have a pulmonary embolism. My PCP listened to my symptoms and put me right as ease: “It sounds more like a pinched nerve, but let’s take a look.” So I had my umpteenth x-ray which showed nothing.

My gripe here isn’t that the orthopedist did anything wrong diagnostically (though he didn’t know about shingles) – it’s just that he needlessly freaked me out.  And since, at age 64, I feel like I’m on the precipice of some deadly disease anyway, I’d rather not have unfounded confirmation of that fact. So, I’ve decided that in my “golden years,” I’ll be choosing doctors simply for their bedside manner. I think I’ll live longer that way.

P.S.  I’m on an anti-inflammatory for two weeks. Hope my stomach holds out.


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