Does anyone else feel like they're getting the short end of the stick when dealing with your health professionals? I hope it's not just me, but it really feels like I seem to fall in every crack the system has. Or it makes new cracks for me.
I live in Denmark, where we have socialized health care. Overall, I am extremely happy with the health and social care system, it just doesn't always work for me. I think part of this is that I am a foreigner and don't know all the rights and benfits that one would had they lived in Denmark their entire lives.
I started woking as a home care helper summer 2006. I worked for a handicapped woman who was completely physically dependent. By the following summer, I was in to my dr. regarding back pain and numbness in my toes. He told me flat out that it was a herniated disc but ran no diagnostic tests or follow up. Didn't even check my reflexes. I asked if I should quit my job, but he said there seemed no reason to do that. I asked him about filing a formal complaint for workers injury compensation, which he told me wasn't the smartest idea, but he agreed to.
Months later, I am at his office again, the toe numbness has switched toes and the pain isn't any better, and wanted to find out what was going on with my case. In addition, the chronic pain was getting me depressed and my relationship was on the rocks. "Poor you, you have it so bad, don't you?" was his professional response to a patient in tears. I also found he never filed the complaint with the workers injury compensation agency because he didn't think I needed to.
I switched doctors. In the mean time, I was paying for chiropractic services. I had never been to a chiropractor (no history of back pain) and didn't know what was supposed to happen in there. After two months, I'm talking with friends and they clue me in that the chiropractor is supposed to crack/adjust my back, not just feel for alignment and flexibility EVERY time. I wasn't getting any relief anyway (surprise there) so I quit going and focused more on self-healing through diet, exercise, yoga, and meditation.
Second doctor started out with gusto and enthusiasm to get this chronic condition appropriately diagnosed and treated. She, too, said she saw no reason to quit my job (I don't think she thought it was a herniated disc), but after 2 years I had had enough and really (physically and psychologically) couldn't take it any more. Thanks to her I did manage to get a complaint filed, was officially in the system, and finally got an appointment with the rheumatologist. I also saw a physical therapist but she didn't want to touch my back until we had a diagnosis - fair enough. I also saw someone for pain blockers and acupuncture - no relief, sometimes made it worse.
Aggrivating enouch, the Radiology/Rheumatology clinic changed my appointment date 5 TIMES over a course of several months. I finally got an MRI almost 2 years to the date I started complaining about the back pain. But it was conclusive, an obvious herniation at L5/S1. However, they felt the picture showed enough room for my nerve canals so there was no medical reason why I was having pain down the leg or numbness in my feet. (Implying that I'm either lying or crazy - but still no psychological help was recommended although this was maybe the 5th documented time I had asked the doctors for it). He also said to stay away from all pain meds unless absolutely necessary and I should be pain free in 3-4 months.
I switched to homeopathic pain relief, continued with meditation, yoga, and light cardio, and switched my diet to raw vegan in order to supply my healing body with all the nutrients and vitamins it needs to heal itself. Things were actually getting better. I was able to go off all pain meds! I started a new job (after a year of unemployment)! My relationship even got better, I was feeling great!
Two months later I've reinjured my back again and have been on bed rest for 20 days now. Fighting tooth and nail to get another MRI and treatment, my doctor has grown tired of me coming into her office - or so she seems. I did get a recommendation to see a physical therapist, but the don't know what to do with me since every exercise they give me either causes immediate pain or increased pain within half an hour. My exercises now are laying flat on my stomach for a few minutes, several times a day, 10 minute walks, and sometimes I can lay on my right side. I've asked for a cane or walker and a backbrace, but no one thinks that's necessary (even in the icy weather). I also had to fight to get some pain relief and they gave me some morphine 2 weeks after the pain started, which does take the edge off. Literally, they sent me home with morphine and bed rest for an undetermined time. During the winter holidays. In Denmark. Alone. Knock, knock, knock... is that you, depression? I've asked my doctor multiple times if I can get some kind of home assistance (no family in DK and not many friends) since I can't lift or carry home food, clean the house, do the laundry, or really take care of daily needs. She told me each time that I did not qualify. (I'm at 76% on the Owestry Disability Index, I don't see how I can't qualify). But, I spent this time on my back constructively and translated the Municipality's social and health care pages to find that EVERYONE qualifies, all you need is a recommendation from your doctor and someone comes out to evaluate your condition and living situation to set up appropriate care. This would be great news if it wasn't the holiday season and all offices are closed, so I'm still in the same position at home.
Just to add a little more icing on the cake, the Workers Injury declined my case (that was finally filed in April 2009), saying that my diagnosis is generalized back pain and is thus not covered (what about the herniated S1 diagnosis from the MRI??), I have no listed employer (but the municipality was my employer!), and that they cannot determine that my work (of lifting a handicapped woman of equal weight up to 96 hours a week) was the cause of my disease - an otherwise healthy 24yr old at the time. I've obtained a copy of my full medical journal and the first doctor NEVER ONCE documented that I came in for back pain!! Much less his "professional" diagnosis of a herniated disc. But he did make sure to note that I was a foreigner (yea, really important to my health) and came in for "relationship troubles" several times. (I think he missed the boat, that I was complaining of the chronic pain and the effect on my mentality and life and wanted psychological help).
Does anyone have similar horror stories or get frustrated at the lack of help and cooperation from the medical professionals? Are there any others living in Denmark? Anyone have any legal advice? Or encouragement?