Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Why couldn’t the doctor tell me that?

“My knees hurt,” I said to the doctor.
“You have osteoarthritis,” she replied, smiling.
How does she know that?  She never even looked at my knees.  She didn’t touch them.  What is that, anyway?  Is it bad?

Two years later.  
“My knees hurt,” I said to the nurse.  Smiling, she said, “Yes, osteoarthritis comes to all of us as we age.” 
Oh.  Why didn’t my doctor say that?  How hard would it have been? 

Last Year.
I asked the doctor, “What did the Xray show?  Does it tell you why my back hurts? It’s been like this for months.”  
“You have a compression fracture,” he said.  “It’s old, and it’s above the site of the pain.”
Oh. Old?  It must be healed, then.  Maybe it’s from when my ex-husband kicked me in the back 40 years ago.  I wonder what is causing the pain?  What is a compression fracture, anyway?

I said to my new doctor, “My back hurts.  All the time.  I’m tired of hurting.”
(After the exam, after laying down on the table with great difficulty because of the pain, and needing her help to get up again because of the pain, and after we talked about how maybe physical therapy and exercise might help, she looked at the Xray from last year.)
“No PT for you,” she said.  “You have compression fractures, right here, directly above the pain.  You need an MRI, and maybe they will be able to inject cement in there and make it better. And you need to take twice as much calcium as you are taking.” 
A solution?  Maybe?  More calcium?  OK.  And what is a compression fracture, anyway?  Wait.  It’s not that old?  It’s not healed? An MRI...is that the donut machine or the long scary one?  I am so confused!

Her nurse helped with some of my questions, and gave me some written information about others, but I was too confused really to think of everything I needed to know.

 So I Googled compression fractures when I got home, and discovered that they are related to osteoporosis, and often caused by a fall.  I fell two years ago - tripped over the Cat and landed flat on my back - and I’ve been in pain more often than not ever since.  Compression fractures apparently usually heal on their own in a few months.  But they are usually up higher on the back, not down in the lumbar area where mine is.  Lower back injury is harder to heal?  I guess?  

Why couldn’t the first doctor tell me that?  Why didn’t this doctor tell me that?  Why did I have to go look it up on the internet? 

I am in a field that has its own specialized language.  I spent eight years in college and graduate school learning that specialized language, but when I am speaking with people who are not in my field, I am careful not to use those words and phrases. I am careful to use language they will understand.  If they do not understand me, what’s the point of talking?

Why don’t doctors feel that way?   I am not a stupid person, but I feel stupid when they use words I don’t understand, and don’t explain them, and I know I don’t know enough even to ask intelligent questions.  I go in with a list of questions and topics I need to tell/ask them about, and I do manage to get through my list more often than not.  But if anything else comes up, I am out of luck.  I can’t think of the right questions.  They are usually overbooked and in a hurry to get to the next patient.  So I leave, confused and usually totally misunderstanding what I have been told.   And I don’t trust Google. 

What we really need is....

As I wander around my town I hear people complaining about this problem or that one.  We have homeless issues.  We have crime issues.  We have gang issues.  And I hear specific comments and suggestions.

What we really need is a way for the churches and the police and not-for-profits and even local businesses to work together, going into the neighborhoods so people know we care about them, and what services are available for them.
    We have that.  It's called Bringing Broken Neighborhoods Back to Life and has been functioning very well for several years.   We have block parties where lots of information is available, and free food, and places for the kids to play, and music and preaching and people to pray for them.   They get written up in the Enterprise and there are lots of posts on Facebook about it.  Why don't you know this? 

What we really need is a way for people who need services to get access to them without having to find a ride into Fresno or where ever.  Because when people just get a referral but don't have transportation, they don't get to go where ever it is they need to go.  Maybe there could be a way for all the county services to be made available in one place, and help with drivers licenses and IDs and Social Security and stuff.
  We have that.  It's called MAP - Multiagency Access Program.  They will go get you and help you figure out what you need and take you where you have to go to get those services.  They had a grand opening a couple of months ago, with speeches and a great meal, right next to their office in the old Enterprise Building on Grant.  It was written up in the Enterprise and there were lots of posts on Facebook about it.  Why don't you know this?

What we really need is a place for the homeless to take showers and clean up, so they can go to job interviews and such.
   We have that.  Showers and changing areas are available for men and women behind Valley Life Community Church in the former concession building.   There is a schedule and there is a time restriction on how long you can stay in the shower - but we have that.  I don't know whether the Enterprise has covered this, but it has been posted on Facebook.  So, why don't you know this? 

Last night at a City Council meeting, I said, "What we really need is a good Neighborhood Watch program."   I come from a city with a serious gang issue, and the Neighborhood Watch Program there is one of the local PDs best tools.  But here I haven't seen any signs for Neighborhood Watch as I drive around town, or any announcements of Neighborhood Watch meetings in the paper or on Facebook.
One of the City Councilmen said . . .
   We have that.  The lady who just left is the Queen of the Neighborhood Watch.  Why don't  you know this?

I don't know this, because I don't know where to look for that information.  It's not in the places I am used to looking for info.  Who would I ask, if not the newspaper or Facebook?

So here's another suggestion:

What we really need is a good, general way to make sure all this information is readily available to anyone who wants to look.   I don't know what that would be.   Because we have a newspaper, and lots of this stuff is in the newspaper, but people don't know about it. And we have a Facebook Page called "News Around Selma" plus another one called "News Around Selma -No Drama" where lots of this information shows up, but people don't know about it.   We have electronic billboards, but I've been told it is too expensive to put unpaid PSAs on there for long enough to make a difference.

Do we have that?