Why am I surprised by this?

To begin, rather pithily: I have had very mixed experiences with medical professionals throughout my life. Some have been fantastic. Some have been middle-of-the-road. And, as you might expect to hear from a person with a chronic pain condition, some have been absolutely awful.

Recently, I had a fantastic experience in a consultation with the oral surgeon who will be — at the time of this writing — removing the three wisdom teeth that I have in my skull [note: by the time this post is up, I will be recovering from the surgery and therefore on a bit of a break from blogularly goings-on]. Given my past experiences with medical professionals, I was not optimistic going into the consultation. I have a pretty spotty history when it comes to dental sensitivity, have been labeled an “anxious” patient in the past because of said sensitivity issues, and thus have a mountain of concerns about surgical procedures because of the medical conditions that I already have — cerebral palsy and fibromyalgia among them.  I was fully expecting that the surgeon would either minimize and perhaps outright dismiss my concerns during this appointment; worse, he might actively resist giving me anything other than over-the-counter pain medications for what is known as being a very painful procedure, as fibromyalgia patients seem to have a reputation as being “drug-seeking” among some people in the medical community and in the popular imagination at large (to say nothing of the ridiculousness of getting one’s wisdom teeth removed as a method of obtaining prescription drugs).

Interestingly, this was one of those times where I would be happy to be wrong. The oral surgeon not only explained the actual procedure to me in great detail, but listened very patiently to my concerns about possible issues due to increased pain (possibly relating to fibro, as it tends to flare up after any medical procedure that involves high doses of medication that I do not normally take) and muscle spasms (that would be the cerebral palsy, which has left me with muscular weakness on the left side of my body and occasional spasm attacks in my left leg). He also asked many questions about both the fibro and the CP, and reassured me that he and his staff would watch for things relating to each condition that could possibly occur during and after the procedure.

This consultation — and the oral surgeon’s taking my concerns so seriously — was a welcome break from the fighting-an-uphill-battle-with-my-bare-hands sort of feeling that I’ve gotten from some past medical and health-related consultations. I am, of course, of the opinion that these sorts of positive experiences should not be this unusual, and that they apparently are so unusual gives me pause for a myriad of reasons.

10 Comments

  1. Congratulations on a good medical experience! I know the best ones always surprise me, with them so unfortunately rare.

    Best of luck on a speedy recovery!

  2. Relatedly, due to the title of the post, I was surprised that it was about a positive disability-related experience rather than a negative one! It’s definitely problematic when we become accustomed to people just not getting it in a variety of ways–as Melissa at Shakesville says, one of the biggest things we can do is expect more from others rather than lower our expectations.

    At any rate, I’m glad you had a positive experience with the surgeon. I hope the surgery went smoothly, recovery is speedy and the expected fibro flare-up is manageable! 🙂

  3. Wonderful post, Annaham. The undertreatment of pain is a travesty. Chronic pain patients need higher doses or different meds after surgery or injury/atypical pain. We start at a different baseline, and it’s not zero (or close to it) as it is for most people.

  4. I was pleasantly surprised when I started going to my new dentist 2 yrs ago. Not only does he understand the ramifications of my medication side effects on my teeth (something no one ever explained to me), but pre-emptively reiterates to me the special issues I will need taken care of prior to any work. I guess this dentist actually writes stuff down and reviews it before I come in. It’s amazing to me not to have to fight and argue each appt. for what I need.

  5. Good luck with your recovery. Wisdom teeth removal was rough on me, even with a good surgeon.

  6. I’m glad you had a good experience, and I wish you luck and a speedy recovery from the wisdom tooth removal!

  7. Monica – the negative ones are “why am I NOT surprised?”

    Best of luck for a speedy recovery and oodles of jealousy for finding a great dentist!

  8. The best experience with doctors and personnel I have had was at the “oral and dental health” ward of a local hospital (I also went there to have wisdom teeth removed). Everyone was nice, seeking to comfort me and explain things very thorougly; specific, slow and clear enough that I could really get it despite being nervous which tends to mess with my language-understaning-ability. They didn’t mind that I was very anxious about the local anesthetic and the way my body reacts to it (anxiety disorder that among other things tends to focus on what is going on with my body) and just told me to say something and ask anything I like if I was worried about something (whether it was pain or anything else), and when I did they explained everything I mentioned very well, where usually doctors and staff tend to get annoyed, exhasparated and very quickly tell me I’m imagining everything. They were also very good at what they do regarding the actual procedure, which was nice.

    Over here after this procedure, they give everyone the same painkillers to take home by default (not sure if they can adjust it according to your needs), and these are not over-the-counter. You get them at the desk in the hospotal, it’s paracetamol+codeine (not over the counter due to the codeine). They give you the prescription slip right after the procedure and you can pick them up on your way out of the hospital, so you can take one at home after the anesthetic wears off. When I took one, however, I felt very unwell, so after that I stuck to regular paracetamol, but I hardly had to take anything anyway. I have the luck of being hypo-sensitive to most pain-stuff going on in my mouth.

  9. I went on about my dental stuff in some open threads. I did finally get somewhere. After being super anxious about calling, I gave them my insurance information (Medicaid plan) and was told “Can you come in tomorrow?” I swear, if my jaw could be on the floor, it totally would’ve been. Seems like a good practice, too.

    I had an issue getting antidepressants refilled recently and I’m a wreck when I randomly stopped taking them. It was a weekend before a holiday by the time I realized I had to take things into my own hands (it’s a long story) and my only option was to hit the ER. I really didn’t want to do that since my last experience involved a really rude social worker. This time, I just dealt with people who were really understanding. Looking back, I still find it a little weird but I do realize that’s just how it should’ve been.

  10. I’d have the same reaction … a good experience is so rare that it definitely deserves its own post. I hope that you are recovering well, and that you’ll be feeling as well as possible as soon as possible.