Week 14 ~ December 6 - 12, 2006
~ Taking Charge
Last week I was complaining about numbness in my thigh and I was going to see my family doctor about it. I was quite on target with my assessment of how the appointment would go. Dr. Useless (that's our new nickname for him) came into the exam room and asked me what the problem was. I explained it to him. He said, "Well, you need to lose weight. I can examine you but this is a weight issue." I told him, "Well, I'm pregnant too." He said, "Why are you here and not at your Gynecologist?" (Apparently he doesn't know that the doctor who deals with pregnancy is actually an Obstetrician). I told him that I was told that it's too early to be a pregnancy related issue and I was told to see my regular practitioner.
He asked me a few questions about when I started having the pain and then he checked my reflexes. He had me drop my pants, and he used something poky and asked me how much I could feel on each thigh. My left thigh had noticeably less feeling. So Dr. Useless went to consult with a rehab specialist and came back and said I have "Meralgia Paresthetica" which affects my "Lateral Cutaneous Femoral Nerve." He said that there is nothing that can be done, and I need to just deal with it until my pregnancy is over!!!! I don't think so . . . I'm getting a second opinion.
So I called my OB's office and spoke to a nurse. I told her what had happened and what my doctor had said. She spoke to one of the doctors in the office and he agreed with Dr. Useless's assessment. The nurse told me that she really didn't believe that nothing could be done and I should make an appointment anyway, that at the least maybe I could get a referral to find out what the problem was. I made an appointment with the OB and was able to get right in, the next day. My OB wrote me a referral to see a physical therapy specialist. I called and was able to get in for an appointment on Monday.
When I went to see her she asked me some questions about the numbness I had been feeling, which had recently also turned into stabbing pain at times as well. We talked about my medical history and what the doctors had said about this injury and why I felt I needed to see her as well. I really felt like she listened to me and was trying to help me. She checked my reflexes and my level of flexibility. She also had me sit, lay and stand in different positions to test my strength when she pushed against my legs and arms while they were extended. The whole time she was asking whether I had pain, discomfort or numbness.
In the end, the doctor determined that I have a pinched nerve in my back. I had a back injury about 10 years ago when I slipped down a loading dock at work. I did physical therapy then but I have always had back problems. Now that Hannah is getting so big and heavy, and I am pregnant, my back has been having problems again. The doctor pinpointed the event which was instrumental in causing the pinched nerve . . . sitting in the car for a long period of time driving to my mom's for Thanksgiving.
When I found out about my diagnosis, I about cried because I was so happy. I'm not happy about having an injury but I am happy that there is something medically wrong with me that CAN BE FIXED. I was so worried that I would spend the next six months in pain and that as the pregnancy progressed, so would the level of pain and discomfort. I'm so relieved that there is help for me. I'm going to start physical therapy next week, three days a week for however long it takes to feel better and I have a follow up appointment with the doctor in two months to check on my progress.
This whole experience has made me angry and grateful. I'm angry because Dr. Useless completely dismissed me without truly examining me and my condition. I'm grateful because even though Dr. Useless dismissed me, I had another option. What would I have done if I didn't have another doctor to turn to, one who was wiling to listen and write a referral? What would I have done if I had a medical plan that didn't give me the options that mine does? I'm also proud of myself . . . I knew that something wasn't right and I didn't just accept the answers I got from the doctor or the nurse. I kept calling and talking to someone until I was able to get the appropriate help. I took charge of my health and well being and now I'm going to get the treatment I need.