Guest Blogger Staci
My Mother and the Doctor Factory
This whole saga began about 16 months ago. It started simple enough. My mother felt like she was losing her peripheral vision in her right eye. She described it as seeing a black spot that would move in and out of her field of vision. Since that time, we’ve seen four eye doctors (two ophthalmologists), two internists, a neurologist, a rheumatologist and the doctor that looks at your intestines.
The first guy gave her drops to use, but said nothing was wrong. He pretty much said it was all in her head. He also threw in that she was 78 years old (at the time) and vision loss is normal as you age. We dumped him and went to a second doctor that was recommended by a nurse friend. This guy is the head of his department in the hospital where he works. We wasted eight months with this guy before he suggested she see another doctor he was affiliated with because he couldn’t find a reason for the problem (which at this time was getting progressively worse). Her “treatments”, as I could see were that he would dilate her pupils on each visit, and he prescribed a different eye drop from the first doctor. The third doctor continued with the dilation of her pupils on each visit, which at this time was about once per month. She would see doctor number two on one week and doctor number three on a successive week. Each time, each doctor would dilate her pupils, but they could find no reason for the deteriorating vision. Wouldn’t you think at this point they would have stopped dilating her pupils and proceeded on to other testing? Finally, after 11 months of these treatments with no noticeable results, a MRI was ordered. I’ll never forget. It was Wednesday, April 28, 2010. A tumor was found on her pituitary gland that was pressing on the optic nerve. She was almost totally blind in her right eye at this point. She was ordered into the hospital that day with surgery scheduled two days later.
It sounds like this story should end here, right? The problem had been identified, and the solution should be clear.
There are two options for this type of surgery. The surgeon can either go through your nose, or he can go through your skull from the back. Considering my mother’s age, we opted for the first one. The surgery was done on Friday and lasted over four hours. Immediately after surgery, when they got her back to her room, she was in incredible pain in her left foot. The neurosurgeon that had performed the surgery called in an internist. He couldn’t figure it out, so he called in a rheumatologist. The rheumatologist decided it was the effects of gout and prescribed Colchcine. Now, my mother had never for a day in her life had gout and the pain didn’t present like gout, but that was his diagnosis. I really would have rather he said he didn’t know. For the next two days, she was treated for gout but she was still screaming from the pain. My mother is fairly stoic, so for her to be complaining was really telling for me. She got no relief from the pain using this drug. On the third day, Neurotin was prescribed. This is a medication that was approved by the FDA as an anti-seizure drug, but it has a secondary use for nerve pain. Finally, they had hit upon a drug that seemed to help. The pain was manageable, but amazingly, the source was still being diagnosed as gout. The gout medication didn’t work at all while in the hospital, but they still sent her home with a prescription for Colchcine . Our first post-hospital visit was one week after discharge. By that time, I had done tons of research into the symptoms my mother described to me, and it sounded a lot like neuropathy and nothing like gout.
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