Monday, May 12, 2008

Missed Diagnosis

I am currently in a lot of pain, because I tore my labrum, a cartilaginous structure that acts as the cup for the upper arm in the shoulder socket. For weeks I have had this vague but excruciating pain, and saw various specialists, all useless. The pain just kept getting worse, causing my right triceps and lat to twitch like in the seminal experiments of Luigi Galvani using electricity to prod a frog gastrocnemius. A chiropractor thought that after an untold number of visits, the pain would disappear ('one leg is shorter than the other!'). After two weeks and no relief, I stopped going. Massage felt good at the time, but the pain or range of motion was unaffected. My various doctors basically gave me the 'back-shoulder pain' google slap: try ice then heat, aspirin, Aleve, Ibuprofen, rest. Physical therapy was also pointless, various simple motions that did nothing. It was only after an MRI found the SLAP tear that I feel a solution is getting somewhat feasible.

Another problem was that ibuprofen only generates the desired effects when taken in mega-doses: 800 to 1200 mg. Like trying to get drunk on one beer, the standard 2 ibuprofen (400 mg) doesn't give you any relief. Taking 1000 mg 3 times daily has made a world of difference.

I think its a common issue. You have a vague problem. Experts all mention that if you repeat their prescription, in the long run, the problem will be solved. In the long run, 'this too shall pass', and so everything will be fixed by time, in that you will either die, or the problem will go away on its own accord, but their ministrations are not part of that solution. And then, when going for the solution, you need to do it balls to the wall, not piecemeal. Piecemeal is when you are dealing with something very powerful. Modern drugs are basically created so that a 110 lb person who's allergic to everything won't have a bad reaction and sue you. Thus standard dosages are useless, though its kind of scary to take 3 times the recommended dose.

An expensive, pointless lawsuit with trade secrets yet 'to be defined' after 15 months, having to construct a case that affirms my right to use off-the-shelf programs that do mean-variance optimization, use insights from my PhD dissertation, or have to vet all my new ideas by Telluride Asset Management in perpetuity (with full rights of refusal, of course). Now a labral tear. What's next, boils? They should just send me to prison, and I could get free medical care, and recuperate via all the time I would have in my 6x12 cell doing PT. In a prior life, I must have pulled wings off butterflies.


Anonymous said...

(1) It is shocking how often you hear stories like this: longstanding medical problem that no doctor can figure out, went to X doctors over a period of Y years, finally a doc figured it out, and it's quite straightfoward to treat. I can think of like 10 examples off the top of my head: my grandmother's Lyme disease, my friend's (baseball sized) nasal tumor, my friend's gluten allergy, etc. Medicine has a long way to go.

(2) Scientists don't go to chiropractors! (Although maybe no one is claiming that finance is a science...) At least you had the good sense enough not to get sucked in.

(3) Be careful with your liver. Daily 400 mg ibuprofen will do more damage than one daily beer.\

Anonymous said...

Move to Canada, so ye can be free!

Anonymous said...

I don't think that's an obscure injury. We spend something like 14% of GDP on healthcare, much more than any other country. How come stuff like this goes on?

FrankNYC said...

My sister and family recently moved to the Rep. of Ireland from the US and my 7 year old nephew caught a throat infection. The local doctor said it was serious enough to need to see a specialist so he scheduled an appointment for...(drum roll), next September!

Poor kid called my daughter the other day to sing her happy birthday. He could barely do it.

May I compliment you on your measured tone in what seems like a living nightmare. I frequent this blog regularly. Thanks for your great posts.