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Dreadful Doctors

Posted on 21st January 2020

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Some people think that I am a little crazy in my attitude to doctors, so this post may shed a little light on that attitude.

Whilst visiting my family in New Zealand this Christmas and New Year, I hurt my back. I have suffered from occasional back pain since I injured my back at 18 years old. This latest attack was triggered, like most, from sleeping on soft and lumpy mattresses while staying with relatives.

This attack was probably the worst that I have ever suffered, resulting in not only very severe pain, but also partial numbness and loss of control of my left leg.

I went to a clinic in the Coromandel Peninsula for some treatment, and was prescribed Celebrex (a strong pain killer and anti-inflammatory), plus a muscle relaxant. At a follow-up appointment the next day I was also prescribed Tramadol, a powerful pain-killer.

After we returned to my sister's home near Tauranga, I went to the local A&E (Accident and Emergency) clinic. The doctor told me that the muscle relaxant prescribed by the clinic in the Coramandel was not optimal for my case, and prescribed me another. I asked the doctor about the possibility of a cortisone injection, and was told that this was not possible because I did not live in New Zealand, and because an MRI or at least an ultrasound would be needed for them to give the injection in the right place.

My pain got worse, not better, and 2 days before our flights home, I went to an A&E clinic in Auckland. The doctor (who introduced herself as Pip) whom I saw told me that the other clinics had prescribed me the wrong medications, prescribed be some new pain-killers, and told me to stop taking all other medications (except paracetamol). She even confiscated and destroyed my refill prescription for Celebrex. I again asked about cortisone, and was told the same bullshit; she told me that the A&E couldn't do a cortisone injection, and that, to get one, I would have to be admitted to hospital, and would not be treated until Monday (our flight home was on the Friday before).

Dr. Pip also refused to answer any of my questions about side-effects of the painkillers she prescribed, or about conflicts with other medications. I pointed out that she had taken me off of all anti-inflammatory drugs (best practice with collapsed disc problems is to treat both the pain and the inflammation, in order to break the vicious circle of pain causing inflammation, causing further pain), but again received no explanation.

After returning home to Germany, I went to an emergency clinic (at the Elisenhof), and was immediately treated by Dr. Eugen Dirr (whom I highly recommend) with a cortisone injection and a pain-killer injection in my back (all with no need for an MRI or ultrasound). You might wonder how he knew where to inject me; the answer is in these charts, which easily identify which vertebral junction to inject, based on the site of the pain and/or numbness. Failing that it is also possible to give cortisone intravenously (I had that once, while skiing, and it worked well). Dr. Dirr knew immediately, from my description of the location of my symptoms, where to inject me. I am now, finally, starting to improve, although I still have numbness and reduced control of my left leg.

I have several issues with the above saga:

  1. The doctors in New Zealand could not agree on the correct medication. If two doctors tell me that the previous doctor got it wrong, then at least two of them made a mistake. If they made a mistake, I should not be expected to pay for that faulty service.
  2. Not a single NZ doctor made any attempt to treat the underlying issue. This meant that I continued to suffer unnecessarily, and that the nerve damage causing my numbness and loss of control, which went on for 2 weeks, may now be at least partly permanent.
  3. The reasons I was given for not receiving proper (i.e. cortisone) treatment are simply false. I do not expect medical professionals to lie to me about my condition and the proper treatment.
  4. When I visit a doctor, I am not just a patient; I am also a customer, and expect to be treated as such. I normally insist on this strongly, and it was only because I was in such extreme pain, and being badly effected by my medication, that I didn't on this occasion, but I shouldn't need to insist; it should be automatic. One way or another I pay for medical service, and know quite a lot about medicine (more than some doctors, it seems) and more than anyone else about my own health. Doctors who ignore available information and patient/customer preferences are unprofessional and sometimes downright dangerous.

I am singling out Dr. Pip (surname Gaensicke, I believe) as the worst of the dreadful doctors, for lying to me (or worse, being so badly trained that she was unaware of how diagnose and treat me properly) and for failing to answer basic questions about the medication that she prescribed. She is one of those people who give other doctors a bad name. My flights back to Germany were pure torture, which this doctor could have helped to reduce, if not eliminate, e.g. by organising a cortisone IV.