I've seen my fair share of medical professionals in my 60 years, and I'm finally starting to feel that I'm in tune with where medicine is headed.
Don't get me wrong, if there were a magic pill for anything, I'd be the first in line. But I've always felt as if medicine dealt with me in pieces, with no one caring about the whole person. The song may have told us the hip bone is connected to the leg bone, but no one really seemed to treat us that way. When my hair fell out years ago, no one thought to check for a tumor on my ovaries. They just told me I was stressed out!
My experience has been changing. Imagine my surprise when the psychiatrist did blood work, and prescribed thyroid and vitamin D. I'd gone in for something to calm me down while going through a divorce, and oh yes, he prescribed that too, but the thyroid and D did so much good, those other pills were soon forgotten.
Then I went to see an orthopedist because my shoulders and upper arms were giving me pain. After an X-ray and steroid shot, he prescribed anti-inflammatories and physical therapy. To my surprise, the physical therapy worked. When the second shoulder started acting up, it only took a couple of steroid shots and my continuing with exercises I'd learned to solve that problem. I don't have complete range of motion yet, and may not ever, as the bone spurs in my shoulders are very real, but I've avoided surgery for now. I really like that solution!
But what nags at me is the thought that I didn't know I was supposed to do exercises specifically to strengthen rotator cuff muscles. How many people know to do this? OK, maybe it's just me who was ignorant.
So last week when I'd had enough of the neck pain that had been plaguing me for a few weeks, I decided to go see a chiropractor. I don't know why - though a friend of mine is a chiropractor, I always thought his ideas were really out there. I didn't want to go back to the orthopedic surgeon because a) it's pricey and b) I was already on anti-inflammatories and c) there is no c), I just got this crazy idea to go to the chiropractor instead. Well, my friend the chiropractor has moved to Israel, so I emailed him for a recommendation.
Armed with his advice, I called for an appointment. Imagine my surprise when I was able to get in the next day. I have to wait two weeks to see my GP!
Chiropractic seems to have changed a lot since I went to see my friend years ago. I'd twisted my body getting out of the car and couldn't straighten up. He set me straight - literally - but that was it.
No, things are definitely different now. I was hooked up to some machine that I guess measured nerve pulses, and pinpointed where along my spine there was inflammation in the nerves. And sure enough, it highlighted exactly those areas that I felt might be an issue. The neck, the upper back, the right hip that aches after a long run....
Then they did an x-ray. When I finally saw the chiropractor, he advised he'd have to review the x-rays and wouldn't do any treatment until the next appointment. I was feeling more and more confident about my decision.
When I went back today, I got the good news that there wasn't anything terribly wrong, and that the course of action over the next month was not only adjustments, but physical therapy to strengthen my core, strengthen my neck muscles and pull back my shoulders. The goal is to get me out of there so I don't have to come back. Wow, that was a surprise: no endless treatment prescribed!
After an adjustment (snap, crackle and pop - wow, that's disconcerting) and some electrical nerve stimulation I was out of there feeling very hopeful that I was going to be able to solve this problem too. And I love that physical therapy is gaining ground, because I truly believe we cause a lot of our own ills and with a little knowledge can fix certain things.
I like what's happening, but what I would really like to see is some kind of repository for all the medical testing that the various doctors are doing on me. If they could all upload the results of their tests to one database, my various 'specialists' would all have access to test results and wouldn't need to duplicate expensive things like blood tests, x-rays, MRIs. Surely that's being done somewhere, isn't it?