Thursday, June 7, 2007

How sunflowers helped me deal with the healthcare system.

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane & My Left Wing

click to enlarge

Years ago in 1993, I was in a car accident that put me out of work for about 5 years (God bless my wife for pulling BOTH of us through that). Above and beyond being angry for being hit by a half-drunk woman running a red light, I also had to contend with the healthcare system - or what passed for one.

I would be in agony and call up for a doc visit and could only get an appointment in 30 days. I would need painkillers and because of my demographic they would only give me NSAIDS (non-narcotic Tylenol and other similar drugs). Nope, nothing powerful for the white boy. The only option I had was self-medication - I grew pot on the back porch camouflaged by sunflowers. Although not a cure, but it helped relieve the muscular pain around my lumbar and neck (my neck still hurts every fucking day, including right this minute - but no where near as bad).

By my fourth year of treatment, my physical therapy consisted of not moving my lumbar (where the muscles detached from the spine) and to strengthen the area around it. So far, this path provided no relief and I am not going into the botched spinal nerve block where I coded on the table - yes friends, dead for a bit. You know it is bad when you wake up and you have 30 people in the room and the first thing out of the doctor's mouth is, "well, we won't try that again."

My exit out of the nightmare was switching hospitals and finding a new doctor. I learned of this doctor through an underground network of other disgruntled patients near my home and it was whispered he was a miracle worker. I can imagine this was analogous to finding an abortion doctor pre Rove V. Wade, but without the criminal aspects and high risk of mortality. So I made an appointment and waited the typical 30 days.

I arrived at the new docs office and he gave my a bucket of hydrocodone and told me to hit the gym EVERY DAY and begin exercising my lumbar area and to INCLUDE the dreaded torsion exercises!

About six months later, while sleeping late at night, I woke up with a start. Something was wrong - different somehow and after a few minutes of trying to untangle the fact that I was astonished at something but didn't know what, it hit me.

My back didn't hurt, but it hadn't hurt for weeks!

I told the physician the good news at the next visit. He scheduled a follow-up for the next month but in effect, the big source of pain had been healed.

The ironic thing, is the physician that fixed my back pain suffered from kyphosis - in layman's terms, he was a humpback.