Sunday, February 20, 2011


Still with the shoulder, I know. Boring, isn't it?

Let's see, where was I? From September to December I maxed out my insurance with physio, athletic therapy, acupuncture and osteopathy, all in the hope that my shoulder would get better. It didn't. At the beginning of December I finally saw the "specialist." This specialist spent maybe 10 minutes with me and promptly gave me a cortisone shot. This was supposed to help with the inflammation in my shoulder for "7-10 days." He told me to come back for a follow-up if I still had pain. Naturally, I called, only to discover that my follow-up appointment would take place in APRIL. Well really. What is the point of that?

Frustrated at this point, I called a private clinic to find out about costs, etc. Cost was expensive! But I could get an appointment within a week. Next call was to my insurance to find out if they would cover a private clinic. Of course, the answer was no. Too easy. Back to my doctor for another physio prescription and a referral to another specialist.

This time physio is through a clinic the doctor referred. So far I am pleased. It is further for me to get there and back, but appointments are for a full hour, not just 30 minutes, and are the same price as I was getting at the fancy gym downtown. So, if nothing else, at least I feel I'm getting my money's worth. I do think the physio is helping though, if only in small doses. Maybe my shoulder is messed up enough that it really will take a lot of time and exercise to heal.

Next, the new specialist is a doctor at the McGill Sports Medicine Clinic, and I only had to wait about 2 weeks to get an appointment. The specialist has a number of what I suppose are interns working for her. The intern spent a good 15-20 minutes going over my history and putting me through a series of "tests" to see what I could do/couldn't do. Lucky for me, I'm pretty fluent in the injury language now and I am able to clearly identify what hurts and how, so the doctor was able to get a good idea of what's wrong. Following that, the intern and the specialist chatted with me about next steps.

First of all, the specialist was rather surprised that nobody had thought about having an MRI on my shoulder. She explained that no amount of cortisone is ever going to help at 5 month intervals. And then she said something that scared me a little. She said that if I do have a tear (probably I have a series of micro-tears), that tears don't heal. I'm not entirely sure what that means. She further went on to explain that an MRI will at least determine what the problem is and from there she'll be able to treat the problem with physio or whatever it needs. Until she gets the results of the MRI, it's really anybody's guess and I could be getting physio for nothing. Super. Don't you love to hear that you may have wasted over $1,000 for NO. GOOD. REASON?

Anyway, this specialist was able to get me on a waiting list for an MRI. After filling out 3 separate forms, I was told it would be about a month before the hospital called me for the appointment. Fine. I'd waited so long already, another month wasn't about to change anything. That was on a Tuesday. That same week, on Friday evening, the hospital called to schedule the MRI for the following Saturday, that being yesterday. So basically less than 2 weeks after seeing the specialist, I had my MRI.

Can I just stop for a minute and say,"Wow!" After all the appointments, waits, etc. I honestly was not expecting to have it that fast. Finally, I feel like something good is happening.

So yesterday afternoon I showed up at the hospital, found the right wing, floor and room. Of course, I was 45 minutes early but you know me ... I was a bit nervous before hand, got a bit more nervous when I discovered I had to get completely changed and wear one of those silly hospital gowns, and then I will admit to being a little bit scared when I finally saw that MRI machine. Nothing would have prepared me for that.

It was big. It was loud. The technicians were very nice and explained everything that would happen. Got up on the table, I was given some earplugs (whaaaaa??? not what I was expecting), they wrapped my shoulder in some type of hard plastic scanner-thing (sorry, I was too scared to ask pertinent questions by that point), they propped me up on one side, strapped me down to the table and gave me a rubber ball thing to squeeze so I could let them know if something was wrong. The whole process would take about 20 minutes and I was to remain completely still. Ummm, OK. But what if I had to sneeze or cough or something? (Yes, this is what starts going through my mind.) Then I was told to close my eyes as the table moved back into the machine so the lasers wouldn't go in my eyes. And the next thing I knew I was inside a frigging huge machine, something like a tanning bed, I guess, except the roof of the machine was only a couple of inches away from the top of my head. Suddenly I thought it might be a good idea if I kept my eyes closed for the whole thing. Then the machine started making all kinds of whirring, clicking, clacking, grinding and jackhammer-type noises. There was a good flow of air and for that I'm thankful because although I'm not typically a claustrophobic type of person, I was a little stressed about being in such an enclosed space without being able to move, and I started feeling like I was having trouble breathing.

I started doing some breathing exercises and tried to remember as much as I could to clear my mind and think of relaxing things. Lying on the beach, feeling the sand between my toes, hearing the palm leaves rustle in the sea breeze. I didn't sneeze. I didn't cough. I didn't even get an itch. The 20 minutes went by quicker than I thought and suddenly the table/bed was moving out of the machine and the technicians were beside me, unstrapping and unwrapping me. I made it!

Half an hour after my scheduled appointment, I was jumping on the bus back down to the metro and on my way home.

Next - wait about 10 days for the results and then make a follow-up appointment with the specialist. In the meantime, I will continue with physio and hope I'm not wasting any more money.