More Appointments Than Carter’s Got Pills

Since the surgery calendar was moved by 10 days, I’ve had a ton of conversations with different departments in the hospital about scheduling appointments.

Back in the mid-90s I was working as a meter reader for the water department back in Minnesota. I slipped down some icy stairs and had grabbed the railing on my way down, which tore the labrum in my shoulder. It is sort of like tearing the meniscus in the knee. Orthopedists call it a SLAP tear. (The linked article is really good at describing what it is and how to fix it without being gross). I had surgery to fix this almost exactly 10 years ago. I never fully recovered my range of motion (ROM) or strength in that shoulder. Some of that was due to not getting enough physical therapy (PT) through my insurance, and the rest was disagreement on what PT I should be getting between my orthopedic surgeon, my chiropractor and the physical therapist. Funny thing is that the PTs think I’m close enough.

After reading about post-surgical and post-radiation for the partial mastectomy I’m about to have, I asked the surgeon to help break up the scar tissue and adhesions that have formed in that shoulder because I’ve been a slug and not done much about keeping it moving the way I should have. Yes, I have a ton of shoulda done this or thats about my health. What I also have is a “Today’s the Day it Changes,” and it’s time to start taking better care of myself, with exercise and strength training going back on my Must Do Regardless list. Getting my shoulder back is one of those things.

So… the surgeon wrote an order for pre-op PT to help loosen up my shoulder. Part of this is because I want to get it looser before I start doing anything again so I don’t hurt myself. Because she included lymphedema prevention as part of the prescription, it’s difficult to get an appointment. And by difficult, I mean near impossible. It’s taken an entire week to get an appointment with one of the two therapists that have training with lymphedema. When I finally do get in to see her next week, we’re going to decide what to do about my shoulder. I may still end up having an orthopedic surgeon manipulate it while I’m unconscious on the table. According to her, even 2 weeks wouldn’t be enough to do what she thinks is needed to get more ROM out of it. We’ll see.

My oncologist has also been working with me to help find workarounds and treatments for chemo brain. There are multiple pieces to this. First, there is a neuropsychologist that does a day-long assessment of where you are. I personally think that for people who are interested they need to do a baseline before giving any chemotherapy drugs so you know where you started. That would mean telling you that chemo brain is a possibility, though. I haven’t seen that happening. When over 78% of patients reporting cognitive issues, a.k.a. chemobrain, during and after chemotherapy, they really need to add this condition to the list of side effects so people know what they’re getting into. Anyway… the neurophych unit at the hospital is understaffed at the moment, so the soonest I can get in is October August (date subject to change). The neurophychologist doesn’t want to talk to me until I’m 3 months post-chemo anyway, which would be July, best case. In between, I’m meeting with Occupational Therapists and Speech Therapists, who are starting assessments and giving me workarounds for some of the more glaring issues. Like getting distracted enough while making an egg to leave a pan on the stove burning butter or dropping the toast a 2nd time and having it nearly be on fire by the time I remember it’s still in the toaster. Not cool. I also got some suggestions for managing the things that I can’t remember to do even though I keep telling myself I need to get them done.

I’ve also got the dental appointments to do the fluoride varnish, massages, chiropractic appointments and meetings for things I need to wrap up at work before I go on leave.

Needless to say, to get me in to all these folks pre-surgery means spending a lot of time on the phone trying to get time scheduled and understanding what it is I need today. It can be exhausting. Calgon take me away!

About Pink Ribbon Road

This blog is about receiving and living with a breast cancer diagnosis.
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