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Angry with the Health Care Professionals

cbp0021ccbp0021 Posts: 10
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Chronic Pain
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?


  • I'm sorry you've been through so much there. I would get a free lawyer consult that specialize in Workman's Comp cases for their refusal to pay you benefits. Don't give up. It also sound like your Dr. needs to get you a referral to a Ortho or Neurosurgeon for other opinions. I know it may seem that seeing your Dr. many times might seem annoying to them but that's what they're there for to help you. I visited my Primary GP many times to get referrals and increases in pain medication. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Thanks for your reply. I'm looking into some lawyer web sites today and have found two potential ones. Hopefully I will hear from them in the next few weeks. I think I might switch doctors again, too.

    Do they ever make you feel like you are crazy for complaining about back pain so much? I felt like until I had the MRI that everyone thought I was just overexaggerating. But now that I have the diagnosis, they still don't take me seriously. I don't understand why they don't refer me to someone else or actually treat me to get me out of their hair.
  • I hope you can start working with a back specialist such as a NS or OS. You need to be checked with flexion/extension x rays to see if you have instability in your injured spine. This doesn't always show on mri and could explain why your symptoms do not match the mri original mri report. Regular MD's do not have the knowledge to interpret the mri and symptoms.

    Advocate to get to a specialist.

    Good luck,


  • Thanks JulieA. I have an appointment with the rheumatologist on the 5th, and I think he makes the call on the MRI. Because of the reinjury, the physical therapists want another MRI since they think the injury is different this time. Before the sciatica came on slowly over months, but this time it was within days and only on the right side. One doctor in my GPs office seemed concerned about nerve damage and expained that I would see a neurologist, not an orthopedic specialist if I were to see a specalist. I hadn't thought of the xrays for the flexion/extension, but that explains why it hurts to go both forward and backward. I'm getting a grocery list for my GP visit on the 6th, I'll add it. The thing is that they just don't seem to want to work with me on this. I think the physical therapist really feels for me, but she's the newest one on the case. I can tell she's even getting frustrated at the lack of improvement.
  • Unfortunately, it's kind of a given with these types of injuries :(

    Also unfortunately, even when you get diagnosed, they can't really fix them much of the time. Look at the people here with multiple surgeries- do they look fixed to you?

    I believe the standard of treatment for back injury is "stall the patient as long as possible. most of the time it will go away on its own. If it doesn't send the patient to another doctor, because by that time she will be really P.O.ed!"

    In fact, I think that's the SOP for everything!
  • Being angry comes with this condition and for the most part we must use that targeted energy for a constructive purpose, we all have our own story to tell, as said it is hard to determine the potential outcome when multiple surgery mandated with the same hope and expectation fails to deliver.

    In reality perhaps we are continuing to more away from the initial objective of getting better and to some extent knowing when to stop is a decisive moment.

    You should be able to get all the information that you need and move from a known evaluation to the next process, all this take time and energy. Remedy and success are not as prescriptive as we might imagine or have expectation at the start of our condition as reality bites and we all look for alternative and potential improvement.

    Nobody should be expected to be lifting individuals as part of any employment and they may have been neglectful in protecting you and others. Do you have right to appeal for your claim if as you say, they have not taken what you deem all the circumstance into consideration, do not let that anger stop you from progressing and good luck in you venture.

    Take care John
  • I have run into some real doozies also. One doc announced at my first visit that I was not in much pain. I reminded him that he had not even looked at my x-rays. He said, "I don't have to look at your x-rays!" Keep trying till you find the right doc.

    Mostly I wanted to say hello because I have some of the same symptoms as you. I have various toes/feet that go numb or have pain on and off for no apparent reason. It goes from side to side and also some other body parts. Tonight in the shower one of my big toes felt like the water was burning it.

    Another strange thing I have lately is a feeling like someone dripped ice water on my foot and I could feel it spreading....but no water there. Have had that in a few different places too.
  • Your post is so long, I really don`t know where to start so I will apologize now for my disjointed reply.

    Firstly GPs in Denmark are not responsible for sending work injury reports anywhere, they just document it in your own notes, so its best to go down and get any injury looked at and documented on the same day as it happens. Your employer should have a form and your union rep can be called in to help you fill the form in and send it off. You will keep a copy of this for any further use .

    As to sickpay rules, elegibility for home-help rules , it is said that if more than 10% of the population begin to understand them then they know it is time to change the rules again, (same with Tax rules) Also if you are not frustrated, then you haven`t lived here long enough !

    My initial injury happened at work, a fall down a full flight of metal out-door steps, but my back only gave way some time later at home so the compensation side of my injury is still on hold as I just didn`t have the energy to fight my way through the red tape.
    I concentrated on me , the appointments, x-rays, MRIs and operation, and the next operation when the first didn`t succeed. I am not elegible for any home help as I have a healthy adult living with me. The fact that he works nights and sleeps days, doesn`t come in to it, and living in dust and begging to friends to help has become part of daily living. My condition significantly worsened whilst waiting for appointments and for the nurses strike and the following backlog to be over.

    I had to be continually down at my doctors office and on the phone checking that 1, the relevant referal had been sent and then 2, ringing the other end to see that the referal had been received, and when I was likely to get an appointment.

    It takes a lot of energy to be sick over here and something has to give, in my case it was the comp. side of things. In the back ground I also had to attend appointments at the sick pay office, with a succesion of case workers who were only one page ahead of me in the sick pay paragraphs and were all somewhat wet behind the ears.

    I do not know whether it is possible or whether they can be that quick, but maybe you could ask your physiotherapist to write a status report outlining the lack of progress and results (and increased pain)have her send it to your appointment doctor before the 5th and also have your own copy to show ( in case it gets stuck in the works !)

    As far as practical help in your home goes, the visitation department will be open tomorrow, a quicker way through is to get your GP to make a referal, but you may refer youself, I will find the appropriate office for you on line if you like, the phone waiting lines will be terrible tomorrow and you may get more results from you writing a well worded E-mail. They do not help with shopping, but some cleaning and laundry help and someone to change your bed linen, will I am sure help you no end.You can see on-line what sort of help you can apply for. ( oh and do not be tempted to have a quick tidy up before the visitation person comes !!)

    I am afraid I am getting all mixed up now,spooling up to read your post and then down to write and forgetting inbetween as I am also on morphine for chronic pain ! I have so many ideas as to how to get you some help. I have lived here since 1991,I live in South Jutland and have worked in the care sector here and have been spine injured since 2004.So I am sure I have picked up a good deal of information in this time.
    I have also found that many of the sick pay paragraphs are available on-line in English so you don`t have to work through jargonized legal language in Danish.

    I have sent you my E-mail address in a private message, feel free to write and I will do all I can to help.Despite the curcumstances, I am so pleased there is someone else here in Denmark who will understand the painfully slow workings of this country !

    I wish you the very best of luck, AND HOPE TO HEAR FROM YOU SOON.
    Viking :)))

  • Thanks everyone for writing, it's nice to get advice from those who have been there.

    I got a call from the rheumatologist's office today, appointment moved to Friday :(

    I have been taking an active role in my care - nearly everything that has happened has been at my persistent asking/complaining for it (as well as privately paying for additional therapies and help). I think this is part of the reason the dr.s are annoyed with me, 'cause I am always coming in there with a list of symptoms and an idea of what may help - I think they see it as arrogance and going against the social moré of no person is more important than any other. I plan to switch to a new dr, but really feel out which one I think will work best on my case. Of course I can be more active in my care, and I thank you for advice.

    I did report the injury to my employer (the municipality) shortly after I started seeing the doctor for it - thanks for the idea to check their records, too. It's just a bit difficult and tricky as I was only just getting a grip on the language when I became injured and didn't know the official order of how these things should go, and I trusted my doctors to be telling me the truth and carrying through in their actions. I just feel really screwed over, I tried to follow the rules and process but I still fell through the cracks and they seem all too eager to sweep me under the rug.

    Viking, it is nice to hear from someone who is also batteling the Danish health care and finding the same frustrations. It does take an incredible amount of energy to be sick here - especially when doctors are keen to send you home with recommendations of Fanta and panodil!
  • It's sad to read that you're being treated that way and your story is all too common amongst us folks with chronic pain. Hopefully the administrative issues get resolved quickly and I'd be willing to bet that a surgical repair is on the near horizon for you...either a laminectomy or possibly even a fusion depending on the severity since that's really the only way to get lasting relief of the symptoms you're presenting.

    I had worked in health-care (as a medical care provider) for over a decade and have pretty much seen and heard it all in regard to patients being treated poorly. Having said that, it's usually the patients that persevere and become the "squeeky wheel" that ultimately get the oil...so that would be my advice to you, don't take "NO" for an answer and demand to be treated fairly.

    Take care and best wishes -

  • But in some ways it really is not that different here than in Denmark but honestly given your story I would much rather be here than there. I worry about NHS in any form.

    I think though HappyH got it pretty much on the nose in that unless your MRI screams a real obvious case of needing surgery, it is pretty much meds, maybe esi and PT. Than just time. They all hang their faith in the fact that 95% of back injuries heal on their own. The wait is killer.

    In the beginning when I went to my first doc as I was walking out the door, he yelled from behind that no one is going to operate on a herniation that small. Too much risk of being sued.

    I decided to go to about 6 different docs and finally have an answer that if I want to do it I will of a targeted disc decompression. I found out the hard way in the beginning, going more to the doc does nothing for you or him. I have now not gone to a doc for months...he gave me enough meds if I need them to last for several months and re-fills. That is how I knew it was like cya later...4 refills in one scrip...lol

    So basically I took control, have all my records, have several docs with timelines I am making for myself of getting more invasive a procedure and when. I worry that the Danish system you are in does not give you many options. You need to find more docs or based upon your pretty picture find a nice danish fella to break you through that red tape!


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