Wednesday, December 18, 2013

SCS pre-op appointment

Today was my first appointment with my neurosurgeon, Dr A. He actually is a pain management doc and works full time with my current traditional pain management doctor (the one who manages my meds, who I honestly extremely dislike), Dr M. Yes, I have 2 pain management doctors already, Dr. M, who does traditional pain management, ie, my medications, and Dr R, who does interventional pain management, ie, my injections. And now Dr A, who will do my SCS implant surgery.

It was a crazy long appointment, about 2 hours, which shocked me as I've already passed so many hurdles for the SCS and I'm already seeing a doctor in the same practice. I did manage to dodge the "pee in a cup" routine to test for illegal drugs. Those tests are extremely expensive (I currently pay $300+ out of pocket for each one and I have several done per year) and since I just had one 2 months or so ago by Dr M, who is in the same practice, I really didn't want to pay for another one. Since it was the same test, same company, same practice, they accepted the last results. My pocketbook danced the cha-cha.

After the normal check in routine and pages of forms to fill out about meds, treatment modalities tried, pain intensity, etc, I had an hour long exam by the Physicians Assistant. She pointed out how weak my right leg is (knew that already), how discolored my legs are (knew that already), how wonky the hair on my legs is (knew that already), and the huge number of large, gnarly looking surgical scars (gee, how did those get there?). Then Dr A came in and talked over the entire thing with me. Pretty straightforward. Most of my questions had to do with meds and the day of- mostly, can I take my meds that morning? (Yes, I can, so long as I don't eat anything.) And please do not remove my Butrans (buprenorphine) patch. (They promised that so long as I warn them to not put any warming blankets over it, they won't.) I don't want my patch removed because they don't replace it afterwards, so you're left to spend up to your first week post-op in withdrawal. Been there, done that, it sucks more than I can ever begin to explain.

The only thing that was different than I expected was that the doctor will out of the country for the first week after my surgery. He had been trying to avoid doing surgery that week, but we had requested it, so it truly doesn't bother me that he'll be gone. He's already planned to have a colleague cover for him, so everything should be good. I do appreciate the warning, though, just so I know everything going in. All in all, Dr A seemed like a decent guy from the very short time I spent with him, and now the next step is actual surgery on Dec 27, at 1pm EST.

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