My husband and I are back from his appointment at the pain clinic in the city.
In a nutshell?
Nothing happened, and nothing will happen. At least not there.
To backtrack a bit.
When we first moved here, one of the first things we had to do was find a new doctor for my husband. Just a GP to start with, so he could get his prescriptions refilled, to start with. From there, he could get referrals to specialists, as needed.
Before the move, my husband had a primary caregiver (at first, a Nurse Practitioner, then a GP), a physiotherapist, an exercise specialist, a psychiatrist and, at the pain clinic, a team of 4 or 5 people; I can’t remember exactly how many, but there was the doctor that was “team lead” on his file, a doctor that specialized in medications, another on physical care/exercise, and one or two more that I can’t remember what they specialized in anymore. I might be forgetting another specialist.
It took him a year to get into the pain clinic in the city, but that was only because his paperwork somehow got lost.
So somewhere between the regular clinic and the pain clinic, there were issues, but once he got in, things went quickly.
We were hoping to find something similar here, but really didn’t know what to expect.
The new doctor got a referral to the pain clinic in quickly. That was in February of 2018. What we were expecting to get was a phone call for an appointment. As months went by, the doctor would check to confirm, and yes, my husband was still on the waiting list. Then this doctor had to suddenly move, we found our current doctor and saw him for the first time in December of 2019.
When he found out how long my husband had been on the waiting list, he promised to push to get him in.
In February, my husband got – not a phone call, but 14 pages of questions they wanted him to answer. All of which was information that would have been in his medical file. He answered as best he could, but some of it simply went back too far, and we no longer had the details (which would have been in his file, anyhow), while others were too complicated to answer on the form. At one point, my husband even wrote in, “don’t you have this one file?”
Then the pandemic lockdown happened in March.
No more health care, unless you thought you had the virus, or were in an emergency situation – and even those got punted.
So that added another 6 months to the wait. Today’s appointment was almost exactly 2 1/2 years, to the day, since my husband was put on the waiting list.
We made the drive in, and it took about 1 1/2 hours to get to the clinic – about 15 minutes less than I’d expected, but traffic was pretty clear when we came in. (It took longer to get out of the city, later.)
When we got there, I was able to drop my husband off with his walker at a ramp, then parked nearby as he went in ahead of me. At this point, we were about half an hour early for his appointment. Plenty of time to go through the gauntlet to get to where he needed to be.
After I parked and went to follow him (he was NOT required to use a mask, Thank God!), I was told they were allowing patients, only. I could not go in with him.
They did, however, allow me to use their washroom, at least!
The city is even hotter than we are – it was 32C/89F with a humidex of 37C/98C. There was no way I could wait in the van in that heat. So I started wandering around to try and find some shade in the area.
I found some.
There was even a place to sit down.
Thankfully, I still had some waterproof cushions in the van that I’d bought so my daughter and I could sit outside on damp concrete benches to have lunch together, months ago.
By this time, my husband had texted me to let me know where he was, at the same time I was texting him to let him know I wasn’t allowed to join him.
Since it was a while before his appointment was booked for, I took advantage of the time and played some Pokemon Go. I even found a nice, little park next to a Pokemon Go gym I could battle in.
Such a lovely, shady spot.
Sometimes, people really suck.
I’d been playing for a while when I got a text from my husband – well past his appointment time – informing me that he was still waiting.
I walked around for a while longer before returning to the shade by the clinic. By the time I got the message that he was done, it was an hour past his appointment time.
So how long was the appointment?
Well, it turned out to be a two part appointment.
For the first part, a nurse came in to talk to him about his diet and diabetes, while skimming over his file.
He ended up cutting her off to ask if they could focus on why he was there: his pain.
It turns out that some of his pain issues was listed in his file as being diabetic related.
In reality, his diabetes is related to the pain. And the other pains that were noted as being diabetic related are actually from nerve damage due to problems with his spine, which in turn are exacerbated by the original injury.
The nurse left after about 10 minutes. He could hear she was talking to the doctor in the hallway before the doctor came in, and gets the feeling she “warned” the doctor in advance.
The doctor was to the point – which was much appreciated – and quickly ran through potential options.
That was looking into years ago, and my husband is not a candidate for surgery. He explained that, and the why of it, to the doctor.
That was in the file as having been tried before, without success.
Physiotherapy/mental coping skills.
It turns out there’s nothing at this clinic as far as physical treatment that he can’t get from any physiotherapist locally. Certainly nothing to warrant the 1 1/2 hour drive each way. There don’t seem to be any of the exercise specialists that helped him before, in this province, in any variation. As for mental coping skills, as a martial artist, my husband was already well versed in the use of meditation techniques they would advise. He’s been using them to help cope with the pain for years.
It makes for very quiet trips to and from the city, as he spends almost the entire time using those techniques to control/cope with his pain during the drive.
That left one more thing.
And there is nothing they would do that our GP can’t.
Go back to your doctor.
Which is what we’re booked to do tomorrow.
On the one hand, okay. This is good. We know what they can or can’t do. Maybe if we lived in the city, there would be more options? I don’t know.
The thing that frustrates me most is that our first doctor would not adjust my husband’s painkillers, or related medications, until the pain clinic saw him first. He had no problem adding more medications for other things, but he wasn’t going to touch the pain issues without that. He was by no means a bad doctor; in fact, he was better than the others we had to deal with when my husband ended up in the hospital. I think he was just too young, inexperienced and lacking in confidence for a file as complicated as my husband’s.
As for our current doctor, he’s seen my husband all of twice, and 1) kick started the pain clinic response in the first place and 2) is already considering alternative medications that might help with the pain better than what he’s on now.
And this is even with the pandemic shut downs slowing everything down.
Which basically means we had 2 wasted years of waiting for my husband’s pain medications to be adjusted, that wasn’t necessary. Plus the 6 months of no health care at all, due to the pandemic shut downs.
We waited 2 1/2 years for less than 15 minutes at the pain clinic, and there’s nothing there to help him.
The van was parked close to the ramp where I’d dropped him off, which was handy, since there was an ambulance parked next to the ramp’s drop off/pick up zone. Still, I wish I could have brought it closer, because I could see he was really struggling.
Then, we went to a McDonald’s, mostly so we could sit in some air conditioning. As hungry as he was, he couldn’t actually eat more than a few fries, as he was in too much pain, but it did give us a chance to catch up on what happened.
Then there was the drive home.
A very quiet drive home, as he meditated pretty much the entire trip.
We still have the drive to the doctor’s, tomorrow, but at least that clinic is only about 40 minutes away.
I do have higher hopes for our current doctor.
We shall see what happens tomorrow!