Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Doctor Smiley Surferdude

After almost 1500 words last night, how about a shorty tonight. I've had a ridiculous headache all night and apparently the cortisone shot that the doctor gave me in my elbow yesterday caused something called cortisone flare. We'll get to that in a moment or two.

First off, friggin' ADD strikes again. I had this whole plan laid out that I would wait until the middle of September to go to the doctor because I knew when I went I was going to have to stop working out for at least a couple of weeks (turns out it's longer). I have a couple of trips coming up and being a gay man, I certainly didn't want to have to stop working out until after all my gay travel was done.

[About the song: Duh.]

And then one day I was at work and it was hurting a little more than usual; it wasn't horrible pain, but I guess enough for me to notice it. So, being the dizzy queen that I am, I just dialed the doctor's number and made an appointment for the next day. Now this was the primary care doc because I needed the referral to go back to the orthopedic surgeon who did my shoulder surgery and forgot to ask me to marry him.

Funny story. My primary doc is dreadful. If I weren't at least reasonably knowledgeable about my own health and medications, I'd be in big trouble. He's prescribed meds that are contraindicated with other meds I'm taking; he didn't bother to tell me that the main medication I take needs to be taken with a 400-calorie meal or else it isn't absorbed, so for the first two months I was taking it it was like I wasn't taking it. Sigh.

So when he asked me if I wanted him to run tests, I actually started to laugh at him before I caught myself and remembered that he doesn't know he's an idiot. No, thank you. Just give me the referral to my way-friendlier-than-any-surgeon-I've-ever-met-before sports med doc and let me get out of here.

And then I remembered that I didn't want to go until September, so when I didn't get a call back from anyone saying the referral was approved for about a week, I decided maybe I shouldn't pursue it. But then I called and asked the nurse what was up. Dizzy queen. She lied and said that hadn't heard back from the insurance company. I say she lied because every time I've needed any kind of referral in the past 18 months, I've gotten the call back in two days. Never longer. Now granted, that was only probably three times. But still. She never sent the paperwork – probably because Dr. Dumbo told her to. So now twice I have screwed myself by making phone calls that I had already decided not to make. But then I forgot I decided that. Arrrrgggghhh.

Now, I suppose I could have told the surgeon's office when they called that I wanted to wait until September, but as soon as I her the nurse from the orthopedic office on the phone I started to fantasize about seeing my future husband. And I took the first appointment she gave me. So that's how we got here.

I've never met a surgeon (maybe not even any other doctor) who smiles as much as this guy. And chatty. He will just sit and talk talk talk to me. Not that I'm complaining. I just wish I could figure him out. No wedding ring, but the limited Facebook stalking I've been able to do (damn privacy settings – I would like them for me but not others) turned up a woman with the same last name and a profile picture that looks like him and three kids with her. And he wears Crocs in his office. That seems gay to me. I'm sorry. It just does.

So, when I finally get to see Doctor Smiley Surferdude (also uncovered through the one available picture on his FB profile), I'm almost giddy. Teehee. Did you miss me? Seriously, I said. I may have literally teeheed too, but I can't be certain.

I told him what was going on, and that the last time I had pain like this it ended up not being tendonitis. They ended up doing an EMG (Electromyography) to determine what was actually wrong with me. When I told him that, I also told him no one was ever doing that to me again. He smiled (of course).

“Yeah. I've never had one, but I imagine them sticking needles into your muscles and then shocking them with electric current is probably painful.”

Ummm. Needles. No, they're more like meat thermometers.

That made him laugh. “Yeah, that is what they look like.”

After feeling around my elbow and forearm (not nearly long enough for my liking), he dubbed it “classic” tennis elbow. Yaaay.

And then he made me laugh (and this will give those of you who know me well a chuckle). He suggested that I put tennis on the shelf for a while and take up something like soccer or surfing. Ha! Can you see me trying to surf? Let's put aside the fact that I don't know how to swim for a moment. I'm afraid of fish.

I went to the Bahamas when I was 19. The first day there we went to the beach and into the ocean. The water was beautiful – warm and blue. I was frolicking along, not a care in the world. For about five minutes. Then I looked down. Something swam right by me. And then something else. There were fish all over that ocean. Who ever heard of such a thing. Certainly that never happened to me on the Jersey shore. I spent the rest of the week at the pool.

So, after I got done laughing I got serious. Look, I don't care how you do it, just fix this. If I can't play tennis, you might as well just take the arm. It's useless me like this.

He laid out the course of treatment, almost none of it being anything I like. No tennis. No lifting weights (apparently I can use machines that I can push the weight with a flat palm, but really how many of those are there). Physical therapy. Anti-inflammatories.

Finally, he said something I could get on board with – cortisone shots. He mentioned it as “an option”. I rolled my eyes and asked him how long it would take him to get the needle. An option. Bitch, I want cortisone and I want it NOW. I still remember how awesome it is from when I tore my labrum playing softball in 1999. I couldn't even lift my arm to put gel in my hair for more than a week. Then the angel, I mean doctor, stuck a needle full of cortisone into my shoulder. Oh. My. God. It was like he waved a magic wand over it. The pain went away instantly. So, yes. Cortisone please.

What Doc Surferdude told me after he gave me the shot was that I should be extra careful because my arm would probably feel great, but it would be numb and I could do a lot of damage to it. What actually happened was that about 20 minutes after I left his office – totally not thinking to get into some sort of sexually charged conversation with him over what he meant by “don't grip ANYTHING with that hand for a month” – my forearm started to hurt way worse than it had been for the past week. And it's persisted. For the last 30 hours or so, my arm has felt the way in felt the last day I played tennis in early July. It was hurting while I was playing, but I decided that if that was going to be the last time I played for a while it might as well be for the full hour. OUCH!

I called his office this morning to ask the nurse if this was normal, but she never called me back. Fortunately, I keep Doctor Google on retainer for emergency consultations and second opinions. It seems that there is a reaction that can occur from a cortisone shot called a cortisone flare. Either because of the needle puncture or the cortisone crystallizing, inflammation and pain can be a side-effect.

So, the side-effect of a medication used to reduce pain and inflammation is increased pain and inflammation.

I don't think I have anything else to add to that.

So, here I am not gripping anything with my right hand for a month. Do you have any idea how impossible that is? Every two to three minutes I'm picking something else up. Try it sometime. Just tell yourself you're not going to use your right hand for anything (if you're right handed). See how long you go before you're using it. I wasn't even out of his office.

So, that's my tale of woe for today. There is one upside though. Smiley told me it would probably take at least two more cortisone shots after the physical therapy for it to fully resolve. Cortisone flare is a small price to pay for two more opportunities to have him fall in love with me.

P.S. So much for a shorty. This was more than 1500 words too.

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