As most of you know, our daughter and her boyfriend were in a head-on collision a month ago. For their privacy, I am referring to them as “A” and “M” when writing about the accident. The last installment of the story is HERE.
We have been quickly losing confidence in A and M’s orthopedist (Ortho #1), and desperately trying to get a new orthopedist (Ortho #2).
I called Ortho #2’s office two weeks ago and didn’t hear back from them.
On Monday, A had an appointment with Ortho #1. Over the past month, he has told us she did not need surgery, she might need surgery, and, most recently (seven days prior), that it was too late for surgery. During a phone call one week ago, he told me she might have a torn ligament and that they’d get an MRI when her cast comes off (three weeks from then). On Monday (two days ago and a month after the accident), they xrayed her wrist several times. Ortho #1 came in (A had only met him in person once, at the hospital two days after the accident) and explained (this is important) that the three bones above her wrist might be starting to separate. He said that could be happening because the torn ligament isn’t holding them together anymore. (At this point, she still hadn’t had an MRI, not even after the accident.) He said they needed her to get an MRI this week and that he would operate the following Monday. After surgery, her recovery would start all over again – one week in a splint, five weeks in a cast and then the start of physical therapy. A was absolutely devastated. She had planned to be out of her cast in two weeks, beginning physical therapy, and then being able to get enough movement back to demonstrate the skills necessary for her to graduate with her culinary and business degrees in May.
It gets worse. The woman at Ortho #1’s office was very rough while removing A’s cast and, after she ignored A’s yelps, I firmly told the stupid woman to “STOP!” She was more gentle after that but we were furious by her horrible lack of skill and compassion when she knew how bad A’s injury was. Richard and I and A’s boyfriend were all in the room and we were all furious!
Ortho #1 decided to put a brace on A’s arm instead of another cast because she was getting an MRI on Wednesday, and having surgery on Monday.
Since A’s wrist was still in many pieces (and not healing), she was extremely uncomfortable in the brace. It provided almost no support for her limp, shattered wrist and she didn’t sleep at all last night (I’m writing this on Tuesday night).
This morning, I woke up very depressed, with a feeling of doom. I’m not sure how else to describe it. I knew we could not allow Ortho #1 to operate on her but also knew she needed immediate surgery. I had to do everything in my power to get her a new doctor YESTERDAY. (Oddly, M told me later this afternoon that the first thing A said this morning was, “This is going to be a terrible day.” Isn’t that odd?)
Anyway, I drove A to school (she can’t drive) and then got on the phone and called Ortho #2’s secretary, begging them to see our daughter. I was crying on the phone, explaining how much pain she was in and how she has no cast now and a flimsy splint that offers no support, putting her wrist at even more risk. The secretary stunned me when she said they didn’t call me last week because they heard A had surgery last week. I said, “WHAT?!” From what I could interpret, it sounded like Ortho #1 told Ortho #2 he was going to operate on A immediately after he returned from the conference they were both attending (over a week ago). She said Ortho #2 was in surgery but that she’s have him call Ortho #1 later in the day to get permission to treat A.
I replied (quite loudly), “You don’t need permission from him to see our daughter! We do not want to see that doctor ever again!”
She said something about protocol because Ortho #1 had shared the films with Ortho #2, blah blah blah and, when we hung up, I was crying very hard and went upstairs to give Richard an update. He immediately got on the phone and called his old orthopedic surgeon here in town and they agreed to see A if we could get a referral from our primary care physician. We called them and they got right to work making that happen but they first needed to get A’s records from Ortho #1 and from the other hospital.
I picked A up from school and she, I, and M went to the local medical supply store, searching for something, anything, to better stabilize her wrist. The lady there refused to help us. She was not authorized to give us “medical advice.” She sent us to a local drugstore and told us to ask for a specific person. We drove there and they were more helpful but didn’t have anything that could help so they referred us to an orthotics office a few doors down. We once again explained our predicament (we are in between doctors, badly broken wrist, need support badly because she can’t sleep or participate in her culinary classes, etc.). The secretary told us to come back at 3:00 (the doc was at another office).
We came home, ate a very quick lunch, and went back. His office was then packed. He saw A second and was so very, very kind and gentle with her. After we gave him the abbreviated story of what she went through, I showed him her xrays. When I said it had happened a month ago, his jaw dropped and his eyes got huge. He said her injury was “very impressive” and that she should have had immediate surgery. He then listened to her explain what she thought she needed and he came back to the room with a plastic gizmo that supports the underside of the hand and forearm, and has a place for her thumb to go into. He helped her gently slip it on to see if it fit. He then took it off again, took it to the back of his office, heated it up, and bent it so that it would fit her wrist better. He then attached velcro to it and, voila! Instant, stable splint. He said Ortho #1 should have fitted her with a fracture brace and that he could order her one but it wouldn’t arrive until Thursday. Are you sitting down? He told us the flimsy brace they put her in is for carpal tunnel syndrome! She has a shattered wrist, for cryin’ out loud!!
We came back home and it was 4:00. We called our primary care doc to see if they had received the files from Ortho #1 yet. They had not. We decided if the files didn’t arrive by 5:00 p.m., we would take A to the E.R. here in Bangor and just start the entire process all over again. At least in the E.R., they get you an instant orthopedist!
Ten minutes later, Ortho #2 called A! He’s the specialist who we’ve been trying to get into for two weeks. She passed the phone to me and I begged him, “Please, please, please see our daughter!”
He was very friendly and apologized to me right off the bat. He said somebody at his office was supposed to call me right back two weeks and and tell us to go to the local E.R. to get hooked up with the trauma team there. She’d have gone into surgery right away. Unfortunately, the person who was supposed to call me never called. I’m sure it was a clerical error somewhere and I was not upset about that. I was just thrilled he’d called!
Ortho #2 then said he saw A’s xray that was taken eight days after the accident and that he was under the impression that Ortho #1 had already done the surgery – immediately after returning from the conference. The day Ortho #1 was back in the office (a week ago Monday), he didn’t call us in and schedule surgery. Instead, he simply called me to discuss A’s care and that was the same conversation when he said it was too late for surgery. I certainly appreciated Ortho #2’s honesty but I was more certain than ever that we were making the right decision to fire Ortho #1!
Ortho #2 agreed to see A. He said to go ahead and take A to the MRI tomorrow (we already have an appointment there) and that his secretary would call me with an appointment. I said, “Will it be this week?”
He said, “Yes, I will probably see her Friday.”
A few minutes later, his secretary called and said to take A to the MRI and then to bring her straight to their office. They will stay open late for her. They also said to tell the MRI people we need an “urgent read” and to send the results immediately to his office.
So, things are finally happening, and quickly at that! I am so relieved and A is noticeably more calm this evening. With the new splint from the orthodist and the huge piece of foam M wrapped around that, she is finally feeling secure and more comfortable, though she is taking lots of Motrin (she hates pain killers). She missed her culinary class today but I did drive her there so she could explain the situation to her Chef in person. He was very understanding and said don’t worry about it and that, yes, she can still graduate.
Then, he gave her a letter he received today. The new president of the college wants to talk about A during his inaugural speech. Awesome! It’s going to be about her excellent academic record and the opportunities she created for herself along the way. It’s not going to be about the accident. 😉
Hopefully, by this time next week, A will finally be on her way to recovery! M is doing much better this week. He’s still in a “boot” and has a bit of pain, swelling, and bruising, and he has many weeks of physical therapy to look forward to as well. But, he is recovering.
It is Wednesday evening right now and A has had her MRI and has met with Ortho #2. He stayed open late for her and spent an hour asking questions and examining her, explaining what appeared on the xray, and even xraying her other hand to compare with the broken one. He called another doctor while we were there and is sending the MRI out tomorrow for a third opinion. His bedside manner was amazing (far better than Ortho #1) and we have far more confidence in him. He says there is no torn ligament where Ortho #1 suspected there might be – the one he’d scheduled her an operation for next Monday. The tendon running from the thumb to the wrist appears to be a bit misplaced but it might fix itself when she is able to move her wrist in a few weeks. It might need surgery in the future but certainly not right now. There is a bone fragment broken off on the outside of her wrist and it’s swimming around. It’s not lying in the right place and it’s causing her considerable pain. He also thinks that might move back into its regular place once A is able to start moving her wrist in a few weeks.
A was so happy when Ortho #2 agreed to give her a cast because, while the homemade splint was nice, it wasn’t near as secure as a cast. It’s no longer a full-arm cast, but only a half-cast so she has much greater freedom of movement with her arm. She can barely move her fingers and she can’t use her hand for anything but she CAN move her elbow and that feels sooo much better.
Bottom line – NO SURGERY IS NEEDED RIGHT NOW and, if it is in the future, it’s not an emergency situation! YEA!!! 🙂
This Week’s Masonism:
Mason (age 4) walked up to me with a permanent black marker and said, “Mom, will you draw a mustache on me?”
Hugs to all
HOW TO REMEMBER, WRITE AND PUBLISH YOUR LIFE STORY! by Angela Hoy
Using Angela’s MEMORY TRIGGERS, recall memories that have been dormant for years, and record those memories in chronological order in your memory notebook. Using the memory notebook as your outline, write your autobiography! **Also works for biographies and memoirs.**