My dog is one of the most affectionate creatures that ever lived: he even tries to play with the squirrels.
OK – he is not the smartest dog ever. As a matter of fact, I had a beta fish that was smarter than he is. But, he is loving and kind and gentle and we love him very much. Therefore, we make sure he has the best veterinary care.
Earlier this week, I took our doggy in to the vet for his annual checkup. I got an appointment when I wanted, showed up, was seen without a wait. My dog had his bloodwork done (and the vet herself telephoned me in 3 hours with the results), he got his shots, heartworm pills, an antihistemine topical spray for when the ragweed season hits and a special ear cleaner for when we go to the cottage and he goes swimming, to prevent potential ear infection from the lake.
Plus they trimmed his toenails.
All for just a few hundred dollars…less than a single car payment!
As of yesterday, I was planning to go to Toronto tomorrow for that Al Quds shindig….but, I think I will not be able to, because…
… this morning, I woke my family up at an early hour: by screaming from pain.
Usually, I am very good at managing even acute injury pain, but that whole mind over matter thing kind of breaks down a bit while I’m asleep. So, I did not control my pain response and woke all of us by screaming in pain.
Nothing critical – just a stupid shoulder.
Perhaps this would be a good time to give a bit of history about my stupid shoulder. It’s been a bit of a bitch for most of my life…
I cracked the cartilage doing martial arts in my teens – but it got better.
During a high-school downhill ski team practice, our coach had us do a human slalom – with the predictable results that someone skied into me and separated that same shoulder. It got better.
Few years after that, a boyfriend thought I was not affectionate enough and decided to get closer to me. I fought him off and kicked him out, but, that same shoulder got a little bit busted up as I was persuading him to leave. After this episode, though I got medical attention and physio and all, and it healed and got strong, the pain never fully went away. I chalked it up to psychology and sucked it up and worked through the pain – the shoulder was a strong as ever and I did not let it slow down my life.
After all, I broke bones and injured all kinds of joints - if you do sports as actively as I did back then, injuries are par for the course. You heal and go, on! When I stopped healing quickly, I had to give up the martial arts and other sports.
Well, a few years ago I had a bit of a fall – I am the clumziest thing that ever lived… I banged up both shoulders a bit – the same one as above was just separated (again), but the other shoulder was hurt a bit more seriously. It was quite obviously dislocated.
My poor kids were home with me and tried to help me as best they could. I know from past experience that the faster you re-locate a dislocated joint, the less soft tissue damage there will be. So, following my instructions, my kids tried to pop the dislocated shoulder back in. It was a little bit difficult – it seemed to me they succeeded, but then the shoulder would still be out. Then my hubby arrived and took me to the emergency…
There, they popped it back in. As I was getting dressed, I knew it was back out – but it took me a bit to persuade the nurse to listen to me. Yes, it was out. And it was out after the next 3 times they tried to put it in, too. So, finally, they decided to take an x-ray of the shoulder – and found that aside from it being dislocated, that bit of bone that goes into the shoulder had been totally shattered into sharp pointy bits and that every time they tried to shove it back in, they were shredding the soft tissue.
The best solution was surgery. Except…I had been taking relatively high doses of immunosuppressants and I also happen to be rather allergic to antibiotics – so cutting me open in the hospital was a bit of a risky proposition. So, I got my arm put into a sling, waited for the bone to mend a bit, and only then had the shoulder put back into place. And, after a bit pf physiotherapy (I had to sell my car to pay for it, because the physio took longer than the government permitted maximum), but it got that shoulder up to speed. Yes, it aches and the bone spurs injure the muscle tissue if I don’t care for it properly, but, it got better.
I am not going into this to make you feel sorry for me – just to illustrate that I am not afraid of a little pain and working through it to a good end.
And to explain why, with all the drama of the dislocated shoulder, the other shoulder – the one that’s been my bum shoulder for decades – did not get a lot of attention. There was something a little more urgent and, frankly, with the pain in the other shoulder and the meds to dull it, it took me a long time to start complaining about it…
In the end, I got physio on that shoulder too (self-funded, of course – I had hit the physio ceiling with my other shoulder). I regained mobility and all – but, it always remained weaker and achy. So, I’ve been going easy on it when I do activities like swimming…
Last week, we went on a family holiday up North and swam in lakes. Chilly, yes, but no problem. And we played in the water with cousins and nieces and nephews and the ducks (my 4-year-old nephew had an interesting way of catching minnows in the shallows: he’d catch them in his hand, then place the caught minnow into his little fishing net…). We threw frisbees and water balls and all that.
That is, they threw, I’d swim to retrieve the toys if they landed in too deep water. But, I avoided throwing most of the time as, either arm, throwing stuff is very painful. Still, one time I did toss a little football with my right arm (the long-term bum shoulder) and something kind of went khrrrrrrr. But, I kept on in the water to ice it and, aside from being a little more sore than usual, it was fine.
Which brings me to this morning and the rude awakening: I woke my poor family up by screaming from my sleep – with pain in my right (the long-term-bum) shoulder… Embarrassing as that was, I was rather concerned because I could not move the stupid arm for pain. Well, that did it for my poor hubby – he packed me up and took me to the same emergency room I went to when I had dislocated my other shoulder a few years ago.
We arrived at the emergency room at 6 am – and there was no other patient there. Not one.
I want through triage and admin and got sent in to the examination room.
The way this particular ER is layed out is circular, so all the exam rooms are in plain sight. All the doors were opened and we could see that I was indeed the only patient.
Just under an hour later, a pretty blond doctor perhaps 5 years my junior came in and tried to examine my shoulder. When she touched it or tried to move my arm, I winced in pain. So, she said they’d need to administer some painkillers to me so she could examine the shoulder properly.
We were sent to a different room – not one with a bed but one with about 6 chairs in it. Once there, a nurse came in and gave me a shot of Toradol – a very effective and non-narcotic painkiller (actually, my file at the hospital shows I refused things like morphine in the past, requesting non-narcotic painkillers instead, even naming Toradol in particular, so I presume that that is why they went straight to it – or, hospitals are finally moving towards this new class of highly effective painkillers, which would be a good thing!).
About an hour later, the doctor came back, but found me still in too much pain to examine me ‘properly’ and this time I was given some oral painkiller. I was beyond caring what it was by this point… The doc said I’d need an X-ray and/or an MRI to find out what is wrong and that I should get my family doctor to sent me for one. (When a family doctor sends you for one, the waiting time is roughly 9 months – in the Ottawa area, at least). Then she left, presumably to let the painkiller kick in so I can be properly examined.
About an hour later, the nurse came and told us to go home.
We were surprised – the doctor had not yet examined the shoulder at all: she was waiting for the painkillers to kick in so she could do a proper exam!
The nurse informed us that the doctor’s shift was now over and she (the doctor) had told her (the nurse) to tell us to go home.
My gentle giant of a hubby was not very pleased with this – all the doctor did was have me pumped full of drugs, did not examine the shoulder, and was now telling me to go home? He’d much prefer that my shoulder were actually examined….as it is not a usual thing for me to let other people see my pain, much less scream from it. The nurse was very empathetic (I suspect she agreed with my hubby) and said she’s see what she could do.
Another 20 minutes later, the same doctor came in and, rather annoyed, told us she had said to go see my family doctor. My hubby pointed out she had not actually examined the shoulder…at which she touched it in three places and said now that she had examined it, her judgment was that I should wear a sling and go see my family doctor next week and she staked off in a huff!
Not knowing what else to do, we slinked off home.
I still cannot really move my right arm very much for the pain of it…and the pain is spreading in area to affect no longer just the shoulder, but also now the top half of that half of the back…I am afraid to go to sleep because once asleep, I will not be able to suppress my expression of pain and I might scare my family again, like last night!
And, never throughout my history of injuring this shoulder (or the other one – or any other of my joints), never ever have I screamed in pain the way I had this morning.
Not even when I would pass out from the pain when I tried to re-locate various dislocated joints by myself, never when they tried to wrench them into place while forgetting to give me pain killers in the past.
Now, why is it, exactly, that I am allowed to pay for first class veterinary care for my dog, but I am forbidden from paying for my own medical care and am left instead to scream from pain?