OK so here comes my book of nightmares! I'll try to keep it brief. I'm also trying to be optimistic, though I'm still pretty angry over the entire situation.
I had an ACDF on C5-6, 6-7 in July '09. Things weren't too terribly bumpy at first, though I had (still have) some thoracic pain that the NS sent me for an MRI to check out. Another story entirely.
I live in a small town in Ohio, with unpredictable winter weather. My NS is based in a large city about an hour away, and comes to my town once a month to visit his patients here. I had to go to his city for my surgery, but my aftercare was to occur here.
My first aftercare appointment was in a town halfway between the two, which wasn't bad, as there was no snow on the ground. My next appointment, set at 4 months post op, ended up being canceled. Not once, or twice, but 5 times. Mostly due to the weather, but I also got a call once that he had an emergency surgery, as well. I was once scheduled to see him in his city, as the woman said that it was easier for me to drive to his city than it was for him to drive to my city (?)
He has two women in particular in his office that have just given me fits. When I do get to see him, he's very empathetic, concerned, and an excellent caregiver. He emphasizes that if I have any questions or concerns to call his office. I've called a few times with questions, and before I can fully finish my sentence, one or the other of these two women interrupt me and inform me that the doctor does NOT prescribe pain medication except directly after surgery. None of these phone calls were to ask for pain medicine, by the way, which they would have known had they let me finish what I was saying. I merely was trying to find out if what I was experiencing was normal, or something to be concerned about.
This past month, I've been having numbness in my hands, mostly my fingers. It's been in all fingers, so it's not a carpal tunnel or ulnar nerve entrapment issue (both of which have been released on both sides). I've been paying attention to when it happens, and it's sometimes at home, but ALWAYS when I'm at the grocery, pushing a cart, about 5-10 minutes after I get there. A friend of mine is a PT, so I told her what's going on and she said it sounds like something is pushing on the nerve or the spinal cord, and to get it checked out right away.
I called the NS office and they didn't want to schedule me in my town, rather they scheduled me 3 weeks out in the city an hour away, and said they'd mail an x-ray order to me. They didn't even have the courtesy to answer the question on whether this was something to be concerned about, or not. I was told they weren't even sure when he would be back in my town, it was all up in the air and there wouldn't be any openings, anyway.
I went to the Specialty Care Clinic office here in town today and found that they had openings for his visit this next week, and she called and got the x-ray order faxed so I could get it done today.
My main concern is that my hardware has failed, somehow, and is pressing on a nerve somewhere. Has anyone else had these type of symptoms, and if so, are my fears warranted?
Sorry to vent, I'm just so frustrated with this entire situation. This doctor is fantastic, and I really like him. The trouble is getting to see him! When I finally do, I am going to let him know what I've been through just to see him. I should have been checked waaaay before now, and it scares me half to death that this may cause irreversible nerve damage. These women are the ones that a patient sees and talks to the most, and the impression they're giving to patients is that their office really doesn't have time for anyone's problems, they only want to see patients who come to them on their terms.