Sunday, July 31, 2011

Being a Patient is No Fun Pt.1

I miss the simpler days when I only ever had to go to a pediatrician when I was sick. All I had to do was sit on the bed, let him examine my throat and ears and I was done and out the door with a nifty sticker.

I went to the ER today for a dislocated shoulder...As someone who is interested in becoming a doctor, I thought I should blog about it, even if it's only a reminder to my future self that hey, being a patient for any reason can be scary and frustrating. Before I explain the whole ER trip, here's some back-story on my recurring injury:

Due to being on the wrestling team, I tore my left labrum which I vaguely recall my doctor referring to as a Bankart Lesion. The first doctor I went to assumed I was just loose-jointed and needed time to grow out of it. We sought a second opinion. Dr. M informed us that I had a torn labrum and he recommended surgery.

My parents weren't too thrilled. They grew up with the mentality that surgery isn't always a solution and harbored the hope that I could live with the injury. They kept hoping (wrongly) that the tear would heal itself, or if we pursued alternative methods, we could strengthen the muscles and ligaments around the shoulder joint. I grew up in a very bicultural home, so I learned about the merits of Eastern Medicine, but I didn't think anything could be done for my shoulder short of surgery.

We argued about it constantly. When I turned 18, I chose not to pursue the surgery option behind their back. It seemed wrong to go behind my parents like that and I wanted their support (or my own job and my own insurance plan).

Finally, years years later, I found Dr. A who is an orthopedic surgeon and specializes in shoulders. I'm not sure why my parents finally made the turn may have been that they finally realized my shoulder wasn't getting any better. In the years between meeting Dr. M and Dr. A, my shoulder would dislocated at the worst times, always when I'm doing something ridiculous and have my guard down: like taking off my jacket/closing the door with my left hand/ sleeping and unconsciously moving into a bad position.

I'm scheduled for surgery on Sept 7 at long last. Dr. A uses some type of plastic anchors instead of stainless steel (which my parents disliked). She's been very kind to explain AND diagram for me and my parents how the procedure would go.

Unfortunately, my shoulder couldn't wait another month and it dislocated itself today...ironically as I was taking my coat off. My next post on this topic will be about my adventures in and out of the ER :(


  1. OMG shoulder dislocations are incredibly painful!! I'm sorry that this happened, and hopefully you didn't damage the joint more.

    And yes, being a patient SUX. Nothing really bad has ever even been wrong with me, but I still hate going. I do think it'll make you more sensitive to what patients go through when you're a doctor, but wouldn't it be nice not to have to find out!

  2. Yes they are :( Other than the tear, there's not too much damage elsewhere..just a small dimple on the humerus :)

    But the whole experience has given me good perspective on what it's like to be a patient in a hospital. It was really hard to listen to even the nicest nurse when I was in pain.