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worried about follow up appointment with surgeon

susiessusie Posts: 152
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:36 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had a 360 fusion & discectomy on 2-24-09. My fusion was from right below my shoulders clear to my tailbone.
I had a lot of complications while I was in the hospital, I was there for 3 weeks but the actual back surgery was not a problem. The last time I went to my surgeon for a followup appt. he took the xrays & my height and said it all looked fine & how was I? I told him my physical therapist wanted me to be sure and tell him that I had pain in both of my arms in exactly the same place. I said it nicely - and all of the sudden he threw his hands up and said, that would come from your neck, I never touched your neck - and left the room!!

My regular Dr. sees me for medications. But next week I have another appt. with the surgeon. Now when my back gets
over tired, when I over do - my neck freezes up. I do exercises and move my neck and shoulder around but I keep getting this painful frozen up neck.

I am sure the surgeon isn't going to want to hear this, but I have to tell him. My back surgery was so huge, it's not like I can just not go back! I am on social security disabilty from it, it was a complicated surgery - I had 2
severe curves from scoliosis.

I am a grown up person and I feel so nervous and actually kind of have a scared feeling imaging that I am going to tell him about this additional miserable problem that to me is serious plus my arms still hurt. I take pain medicine and a gel my Dr. gave me to rub on top of my arms - but my neck and arms........I don't think he is going to be interested. What would you do? What should I say? My insurance has paid out around $300,000.00 so far, I feel like I don't deserve to be ignored.

Should I ask him for a suggestion - should I ask if I need to see a doctor for my neck??? Any suggestions would be appreciated. thanks, Susan


  • i think he needs to hear you appreciate what he did for your back but you need to tackle the arm problem...i think hes just frustrated because he knows how hard he worked on the back...try to treat him nicely and his bedside manor may improve....
  • I've been a cooperative and grateful patient and have
    certainly expressed appreciation during this long
    series of apppointments before and after surgery.

    When my surgeon asked me if I was having any problems
    during a follow up appt. I had 2 choices, tell him
    what was happening or not to mention it. I am always
    nice and certainly didn't say anything that was out
    of line. I would think it would be dangerous not to
    mention a significant problem. Because I have never
    had any problems with the way he treated me - in the
    least - I told him what was happpening with arm pain
    in identical places in both arms.

    I guess I'll figure it out.
  • I'm not sure what I'd do because I also have "white coat syndrome."

    In my mind, I think I'd just tell him up front that he scared you last time you talked to him and that's made you scared to see him again. Maybe that would play on his bedside manner and he'd realize that it wasn't professional to scare his patient, especially one that had such a humongous surgery.

    Once that's mentioned and he gets his head back together then it would be easier to work with him about your neck issue.

    It sounds so easy, doesn't it? I know it isn't, but if you can tell him what you've told us it may help to get things back to where they need to be.

    Good luck and let us know what happens.
  • I think that his behavior was unprofessional and uncalled for. You did nothing but relay information that you thought was pertinent to your problems. I do understand that everybody's human and entitled to their bad days, but you just can't go around taking it out randomly on others. If you do go back and he still acts like this, maybe you should find another doctor.
  • Can you bring someone with you to your next appointment? I agree with Cath that you should tell him up front how he made you feel. Tactfully tell him you were made to feel reluctant to mention your problems to him, just be careful not to make him defensive. His behavior was very unprofessional.
    Keep us posted on how your appointment goes.

    Best wishes to you,

  • with Marianne, bring someone with you, and bring them into the exam room, as well. Your doc may have been having a bad day, and didn't even realize until after he'd done it, that he'd blown up over something he shouldn't have. Tell him that you feel a bit intimidated, since last time you told him of symptoms that you thought he should know about he got snarky. I'm sure your surgery was a LOT of hard work on him, but he also needs to remember that it was, and still is, a LOT of hard work for you to have gone through all this.

    I've seen tons of docs over the years, some fantastic, and some so rude and mean that I wouldn't wish them on my worst enemy. If he reacts badly again, you will have someone there for support, and you can tell him that you think you should maybe see another doc for the rest of your aftercare. We entrust our lives to our docs, and they need to treat their patients with professionalism and compassion. Most of them don't realize how scary they can be, and maybe if it's pointed out tactfully to them it will help.

    Good luck, and keep us posted!
  • great suggestions, just reading them makes me feel better, my sister in law is a retired nurse, she
    had me write a list - it's short - and then she
    helped me edit it, so it wasn't a rambling story!

    She is going to go with me into the exam room, not mentioning she is a nurse but to help me remember
    what he says and give me moral support. I'll feel
    better with her next to me & she helped me word my list so I didn't sound like a nut.

    She told me she wasn't surprised he acted like that and she thought I was naive to be so shocked. But
    she did help me pin down just 3 brief problems that included short examples of when my neck hurts, what happens that it gets that way, and now I have a concise list & I won't get in there and stammer around because I'm upset.

    Also, I suspect it has upset me more knowing I have to go back. This surgery really surprised me in how many ways it emotionally upset me, from the removal of a rib to the blood transfusions that were not from my own blood, to the having to let go of being able to get up every day and not be able to soak in the bathtub (I can't get that far down, I have to shower only) going from keeping an immaculate house to doing what I can and then having my husband do some things and some things I have to have hired done, and I loved doing my own housework - plus it still really hurts. My regular Dr. prescribes pain medicine and tells me to take what I need that I don't have to prove anything to them and I am not doing myself a favor when I hurt and don't take pain medicine, that I should not let the pain get ahead of me -

    I never knew what I would deal with after surgery
    and it's been 7 months
    but I'm still finding out.
    I am going to a therapist and it helps to talk things out. Thanks for all of the suggestions,it makes me feel like I have the right to be treated
    decently. And the surgeon did such an amazing complicated surgery - but I'm still a person with feelings.
  • I know how you can be nervous when you go see
    the Dr. for your first visit after sugery.I was to
    I've neck sugery and spinal fusion that went all the
    way down to the tail bone.I spent 2wks in the hospital and that was 5yrs.ago in nov. I have good
    days and bad days locking up,but my good days are
    getting more than the bad days. But I have a number
    one Dr. who helps me and listens to me His name is
    JESUS without him i would'nt stand a chance.
    I hope you get to feeling
    and rember it will get easier
  • The appointment I was so worried about was fine.
    The Surgeon was nice, he examined me thoroughly and said the pain in my arms was tendonitis.
    It helped having someone with me.
    He answered all of the questions on my list and also he didn't mean to minimize any of my concerns but some of what I was concerned about, he wasn't because my sugery was really three operations in one day and my incisions were so deep.

    I know he could tell I was nervous and when he left the room he hugged me and told me I looked beautiful.
    He was always so nice before - I guess I'll never know what the problem was the day he walked out and slammed the door on me - but I am more than willing to forget it.

    I am also not at all worried about my next appointment. I just got so upset. I find I get upset over a lot of things. But anyway, he was nice, like he always was except for that one day.

  • It's a shame his earlier behaviour resulted in you being so nervous. This is not good for your recovery! But I'm glad he treated you well this time, though I see that an outright apology was omitted. Perhaps it's just me, but I thought you were owed one.

    Nevermind, you have a forgiving heart, you're happy with your appt. and got your answers, which is the main thing.

    What levels did you have fused? I had T4-pelvis, back in March and I'm doing fine.
  • I'm glad your worring was for nothing, and that your questions were answered. You never know what might have happened just before your last visit, he obviously was not his "normal" self, by your own observations/posts. He may have just gotten devistating news, or had a very bad experience with his previous patient.He may have just been in a hurry and not even realized he slammed the door While he "should" be able to begin fresh with each patient, he is still a human being. We all are guilty, I'm sure, of venting at the wrong person, even at work. We should always remember to not judge someone by one encounter especially someone we have always had good experiences with. Its always good to have a fogiving heart. :) I hope you continue to heal with no pain.
    God Bless and keep you, Shirley
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