My Plan B In Action
Thursday, June 06, 2019
I went to the new hand specialist, orthopedist yesterday. I'm cautiously optimistic. The visit was like night and day when compared with the other doctor. I've found that most specialized doctors have a real ego. As specialists go, this doctor appeared to be more humble and grounded than most. That's a huge plus one for sure!
There is so much going on in my hand that it will require quite a bit of microsurgery. This doctor has an undergrad degree, a master's in business, a master's in microsurgery, an MD, a fellowship in orthopedic surgery, a fellowship in hand surgery and I could go on and on. He prefers to work on the hand and wrist. The approach is both scientific as well as empathetic. In this day and age of "meat house, factory surgery" it is a rare find. I just hope I'm getting a clear, correct reading on this doctor. If so, I'm hoping I've hit the luck jackpot!
The doctor took his time with my exam and was very thorough. I'm not sure if he initially thought I was just getting a second opinion or what but he had a very thoughtful, problem solving, scientific approach. He actually looked at all of the x-rays and the MRI and then compared his findings to those of the radiologist who originally read them. He told me that the radiologist was on target and he agreed with the findings.. That was a huge relief certainly! Everyone I encountered, at this practice, wanted to know why, at such an advanced stage of treatment, I wanted to change doctors. How does one explain the fact that the other doctor saw 90 patients the last time I saw him and that he never looked at the MRI images himself. He only read the radiology report and made a surgery recommendation in less than 5 minutes and went on to the next patient. I didn't want to spend valuable time discussing all of my concerns and worries about the other surgeon. So I just told the new doctor that Dr. XYZ had a death in his immediate family, canceled my scheduled surgery and didn't know when he would return to his practice. It is the truth and it was a great reason for seeing another doctor! The new doctor was curious as to who referred me to him. When I said nobody, he was really surprised! He asked me to explain and I told him my process. I spent several days researching hand surgeons and then looked for the top hand surgeons in the Tampa Central Florida area. I said there were only two that I would consider and he was the best candidate. He looked shocked, slightly embarrassed and very pleased. He whispered, "Thank you.", blushed a little and smiled. I guess I really raised the bar for expectations and he rose to the challenge. I was stunned!
So, the doctor discussed in "non doctor language", that I could easily understand, what was going on with both my hand and my wrist. Hallelujah! Now I get it! He gave me the worst case scenario and the best case scenario so that I would get a clear picture of what could happen and what I might be facing. He needs to work on four separate areas of my wrist and hand. I also have some bone bruising and micro fractures, that need time to heal on their own, as well as two ganglion cysts. He explained that the fractures and bone bruising take a very long time to heal. (I immediately thought of Slenderella61 and her stress fracture. Thank you Marsha for sharing you journey with that!). Since I have so much other stuff going on at the same time, it will be months before it all heals. Sigh! Whine, whine!
I definitely have decided to let the new doctor do my surgery. The best case scenario is a straightforward set of repairs on the left, right, top and palm side of my hand/wrist. I would be casted for 3-4 weeks and then sent to rehabilitative physical therapy. The worst case scenario is if he finds that I need to get tendons themselves repaired or "borrowed" from some other place (either my own or from a tendon bank) to graft and/or repair the tendons in my hand. That would require a longer time spent in a cast (he didn't say how long) then a lot longer rehabilitative physical therapy. He said he was going to be honest about the fact that repairing my hand will be extremely painful. I looked at my hand and said that it already is painful. I was struck by the fact that he stressed that he didn't want me to be surprised at the pain level. Scary stuff! But....I am also aware of the level of empathy he feels for his patients. Nice!
I feel that doing the repairs to my hand now, is a better choice than wearing the brace for months to come, so the bones heal. Then, I would have to have the same surgery later, when I have even more pain and more extensive damage to the hand. To me, it's not really a choice. I need to have the surgery. If it's going to be pay me now or pay me later, I choose to have it done and start the healing process. The decision is made.
Now the surgery preparation begins again. This time it needs to be done in a hospital (since the wrist/hand will be cut on all sides) and I need medical clearance from my primary care physician who, of course, is on vacation. Why can't anything be easy? One of my PCP's partners can do the clearance but the surgeon didn't give me anything saying what specific tests need to be run. So, today, I will play phone tag trying to set everything up. Being a control freak, I will leave nothing to chance or to the discretion of office staff to eventually push papers around. This is the one time when I need to be sweet but very assertive about getting things completed. So there you have it...the complete Plan B in action!