‘So you went to hospital for back pain’, he said in a condescending voice. Sentence. Not question. I knew he was annoyed as soon as he opened his mouth because he hadn’t fixed my damn back.
That was the response from my physiotherapist after six weeks of excruciating, relentless back pain. During that time, I went for three physio sessions because I believed in him; he could fix my back pain. But instead, it gradually got worse to the point where I could no longer walk more than three steps at a time.
But he wasn’t interested in any of that ….
‘Did you feel any better after your last session with me?’ he chimed in as I was trying to explain what had happened.
‘No, the pain became more intense leading up to when my daughter took me to the emergency department. By that time, I could barely walk.’
Then he briefly glanced at my CT scan report from the hospital emergency department which indicates multilevel disc bulges.
‘Ah, that’s normal. Happens to most people especially in the older age group’.
My inner voice said, What a piece of shit. How about a bit of old-fashioned kindness like ‘I’m sorry to hear that’?
Normal v common
Obviously, I was upset by his response. ‘I feel really offended by that’, I said.
Bulging discs are not normal. Having a head, or a heart, or a brain is normal. My outer voice interrupted my thoughts.
‘The specialist doctor at the hospital told me that bulging discs are common’.
As an English as an Additional Language teacher, I often got fixated on the meaning of words.
‘Just because something is common, doesn’t mean it’s normal’. He didn’t like my response. An awkward silence followed. I felt obliged to say, ‘it was nothing you did to cause this’.
His speciality was glutes …
I’m sure he didn’t cause it because he was massaging my right-side glute each time I went for treatment. This was despite telling him the pain was higher, further to the right and in my lower spine. He always ignored that and kept massaging my right glute.
Make up a research project
Then he proceeded to tell me about a research project that was done on two hundred people: one hundred with back pain, the other hundred without back pain. He told me that back pain wasn’t detected in either group. What an idiot.
I knew immediately he had made this up because an X-ray doesn’t show pain. An X-ray detects what’s causing the pain such as a bone fracture or a disc bulge. I didn’t say that because he’s supposed to be the medical expert.
I allowed him to give me a massage. Treatment, he called it. Same as always. A severe pound to the right glute.
‘How does that feel?’
After he finished
‘You’ll need another treatment next week and then you can join the group exercise classes.
I have a slot available on Monday at 2 pm for the treatment. I can put you in there’.
‘Then for Friday, I have a class at 11 am. I can put you in there’.
‘Do you mind if I get a copy of your hospital report?’
He must’ve been going to study up on it later – or not. I’m not sure why he would want a copy of something he was clearly not interested in.
I went out and paid. As I hobbled out the front door, I knew I’d never be going in there again.
Later that same day …
I had to go to my GP for a blood test. My sodium levels were low and the hospital had requested a follow-up blood test. Just as before with the physio, I presented the hospital report to my GP thinking that’s what patients are supposed to do.
She took a quick peek at the report.
‘You’ve been to hospital? How are you feeling? ‘she enquired.
‘Not that great really but thanks for asking’.
Then she commanded, ‘Stand over here with your back against the wall. Now press your lower back, tail bone, head, and shoulder blades against the wall’.
I said, ‘I can’t straighten my back against the wall’.
She told me to ‘sit’ while she perused the hospital report properly.
After that, she became frosty with me. I was shocked. I had never expected that. She had always put me in a box with her because I’m blind and she has a missing leg. We belonged together. The name on the box? Disabled women doing just great.
I got it
After re-reading the hospital report, I understood.,
Has seen her GP and a physio a few times – No Ix done- states her GP has just given her exercises to do.
And that was exactly what happened, and she didn’t like it. In fact, the day I was due for my last appointment with my GP was the day I ended up in hospital. That was also the day I was going to ask her if I could have a back x-ray instead of a barrage of exercises that made me feel worse.
But unlike the physio, I will keep her on as my GP because she’s great at writing out prescriptions. As long as I know what I want.
It’s interesting that so many ‘medical experts’ have such big egos. So much so, that they can’t accept it when they do the wrong thing by a patient. Instead of showing some kindness towards the patient, they take their frustrations out on them instead.
Image: Photo is of me, taken by my daughter Hannah, in the hospital short stay unit after a lovely instalment of codeine.