Saturday, October 27, 2007

Like sands through the hourglass, so comes the update on my leg

Another day, another visit to the (NEW) offices for my doctor. Once again, I get a confirmation of the appointment with the ever important "Your doctor has MOVED since your last appointment" message. Each time I so wish it wasn't automated , so I could say "Oh, really? They change offices EVERY week?"

It's almost like all those Clear Channel radio stations here in Tampa, the NEW Tampa Bay's best country US103.5, the NEW 107.3 the Eagle, the NEW 101.5 The Point. They've all been new since I moved here OVER THREE YEARS AGO! The radio stations don't have an excuse for calling themselves new for over three years, the doctor's office can be forgiven that the 2 month old building is not new to me.

Nurse M had a death in the family, so my appointment was reshuffled to another member of the vascular team. The young lady checking me in says that I've never seen Dr. B (according to the records-which are wrong), so I get the patient medical history form to fill out. Oh, and princess watch 2007 is still on: she wasn't there again.

I sit down and try my best to write in small and legible handwriting, because we all know my medical history cannot be contained on one small sheet. There's a line for father, a line for mother, two lines for siblings and two lines for children. Hmmmm, how can I fit 7 siblings and their extensive medical issues into two lines?

The form is completed with the feeling that one might get from finishing the New York Marathon (though not this year, I think it was cancelled). Triumph reigns, I got it done before Nurse D comes to claim me from the waiting room. I almost wanted to do circuits around the waiting room to the Olympic Theme, a la Stephen Banks. Alas, the effort was for naught-they saw there was already one in my file.

While in the waiting room (strains of the Olympic theme running through my head post form completion), I pick up a magazine that actually relates to me. Golf Shoe Tassel Daily just isn't my speed, but Neurology Now definitely is. Even better than finding a magazine with interesting articles was finding an insert that I could get my very own subscription to this very magazine. Woohoo. In short order, I was whisked away to yet another examining room on the third floor. Eight visits, seven different rooms. Will I see every one of those examining rooms before the year is out?

Today's room was right next to the brand new bank of computers the staff uses. This meant I got to see everyone working this afternoon, as they used the antibacterial gel dispenser right outside the door or came into the room in search of wayward medical supplies. Pleasant folks, though, they all excused themselves and apologized for interrupting my reading of the other copy of Neurology Now I found in the examination room.

I was glad to hear I was seeing Dr. B. The resident I saw last week was good, but worried me with the offhand comment about MRSA and dispensing of more Cipro like it were Pez. I am not fond of giving out antibiotics for the sake of it-that's part of the reason why MRSA is such an health care concern. I'd rather save the antibiotics for when I really have an infection.

A short wait ensued. Instead of Dr. B, I met with the third ARNP of the vascular group, Nurse L. I think there will be a blog entry soon extolling the virtues of nurses in general and the ARNP/NP in particular. This was the first time I met her, but I got a comprehensive visit.

We discussed my concerns. First order of business: Do I have MRSA, or is the resident filling me up with medication that five years down the road will be useless due to over prescription? Nurse L says I can stop taking it, with instructions for what I should look for that would cause her to put me back on the medication. Big sigh of relief here, and a cheer for her not laughing at my desire to avoid antibiotics.

Next order of business: The insurance carrier stopped my STD coverage 10/20. They want my medical records from Dr. J from 9/1 on. I explain to Nurse L that they probably should send my records starting from the first of the year. I feel that sending just September and October's records won't show enough causal information of the ulcers and RSD. I also share with Nurse L my theory on why the RSD is to the degree that it is. Nurse L agreed with my cause and effect scenario of the Unna Boot being shoved into a shoe, while not directly causing this issue, certainly making it far worse.


This leads into a discussion of the RSD, what my employer's requirements are and what I cannot comply with. My employers are superficial and will not allow me to wear Crocs, despite the two doctor's notes I've provided. I've blogged about it before. The regional said she wanted them gon, but it's never been put in writing that the Crocs are not acceptable footwear. Nurse L thinks that they should be forced to put it in writing and came up with a plan for that.

She asked me my opinion of how the healing is coming along. I tell her what's better (size and location of the wounds then and now, dry skin, red and tender flaking skin is shrinking in size) and what is not (RSD tenderness affects more of the foot, the pins and needles sensation on the top of the foot is now constant, I can't tolerate anything touching the foot except a compression stocking). This month, I have made a huge leap in physiological improvement, but not neurological improvement.

Nurse L asks me what I would like her to send to the insurance company and how long I think I should be out. She states her opinion that the *earliest* she'd send me back is November 19th. This would be only if they made accommodation for me to wear Crocs or a mule type shoe. She further comments that she only wants me on my feet for four hours a day. I feel as if my retail career is nearing an end, because I just can't physically do it if they won't allow the shoes and allow me time off my feet during the day.

It was once again a meeting with a professional who had empathy for my situation and agreed with what I saw happening. I still feel like someone's going to tell me I'm a wimp, that I should suck it up. Instead, they're all agreeing that the SSDI is the right move for me to be making. Nurse L opined that I should be making plans for Long Term Disability, based on her experience with patients who have worked in retail. When I told her of my desire to return to school for an education degree, she was yet another cheerleader of that plan.

I almost wanted to hug her on the way out, the woman just had such a positive and nurturing vibe. Even when sharing her thoughts that my 22 year career isn't good for my health anymore. She passes me off to Nurse D with a good luck and asked that I keep her posted on my progress. Nurse D seems to be on the 'keep Suzanne out of work and healthy' bandwagon, as she wanted to make my appointment for one month from today! Sweetie, I'd love that, but I don't think the insurance company or my job would like that!

With all of this stuff swimming in my head, I ventured over to work to break the news. I don't visit this part of town when I'm not working, so they hadn't seen me in a month. I got very warm welcomes and hugs from everyone. I miss them, they are a really good bunch of people.

I went back to the office to find my boss conducting a new hire orientation. She and I pop into the office and I shoot straight. Straight being "I really don't know where I stand, but at this time, they're telling me November 19th".

My next step is to leave Nurse M a voice mail and ask her to tell me what I should do. Honestly, if I'm not cleared to go back to work soon, I need to stay out until after the first of the year. This is only fair to my employer. By doing so, this allows my DM to authorize someone to fill my position through the holidays. I'm okay with that, and they NEED that. I really didn't think that the RSD would take the turn it has. I want to make them happy, but I am not going to risk my health for a job anymore. Okay, you can all stop cheering and sit down now, I know it took a very long time for me to get my sanity on the health front.

I spent almost three hours at the store, talking to my boss and catching up on emails. In well over two hours on the computer, I only got through 16 days worth of store emails. This is a necessity if I am coming back before the holidays. They won't be able to spare a day in the midst of holiday preparations for me to sit and read through the information. I'll probably do this again one day next week.

Next, I went to the stockroom to look at the holiday items that have not made it to the sales floor yet (Giggles, we need to talk!) and then walked through my department. I had a man look at me, come over as if to ask me a question, then turned and walked away when he saw my casual attire. I asked what I could help him with, thoroughly confusing him!

One of the employees that started two days before my leave came up to me to ask procedural and stock questions (my boss was otherwise occupied). This is funny to me-I haven't been here for four weeks, you know this, and you want me to tell you what's in stock? Me being me, I refrain from laughing at her and bring her to the computer.

I was able to show her some ways to check inventory on the registers that no one had shared with her (ancient chinese secret, or something like that). This prompted a light bulb moment for me. I had heard my name mentioned to the new hires during their orientation that they were to ask me about any cash register or operational concerns! I guess it's the natural teacher in me-I've got a lot of patience in showing people how our system works.

A guest approached me for a question on something, the boss still on the phone with another guest and sales person assisting another guest. I dove right in and did what I could, going back to the stock room just to be sure that we hadn't added the item she was looking for in the time I've been away. I offered suggestions for retailers that might have her specific need, and that's when she noticed my handbag and keys right where she'd stopped me. She apologized. What? For me looking like I have a clue? No worries, lady!

So today answered questions, but there are more questions unanswered. All I know is that I'm doing what my NP's tell me to do. Especially Nurse L, who insisted I go back to school.

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