I recently found out I’m the victim of entrapment.
I’m not talking a scam … a set up … or a sting. Nothing worthy of a movie or a TV series — but I have been framed.
More specifically, the median nerves in both my hands have been framed — and pinched — by the ligaments over my carpal tunnel, the result of which is numbness and tingling in my fingers.
So, because I want to keep typing out these columns and playing guitar — and not end up with claws instead of hands — I’m going for surgery.
My brother, Steve, our family medical consultant by virtue of spending 45 years in the field, was adamant that I get a hand specialist for diagnosis and surgery, so I went to Dr. McNemar at Ortho Four States in Galena.
My first impression when I walked in the place was that I was at a senior citizen mall. Big place. Lot’s of action. Average age about 70. Only things missing were a J.C. Penny store and food court featuring senior citizen specials.
Let me begin by saying that, to a person, I found everyone there to be competent, congenial and professional. Still, it’s the modern medical system.
The first thing I did was fill out a ream of paperwork, after which I was seen by the nurse practitioner, who took some medical history, did a few taps here and there and said, “Yep, you’ve got CTS (carpal tunnel syndrome) on both sides.”
Next came the doctor, who asked a few questions, did a few taps, and said, “Yep, you’ve got carpal tunnel on both sides. We’ll get you set up with Dr. Herndon for some more tests.”
I have to tell you that, at this point, I’m thinking, “Huumm … the nurse practitioner says I have CTS. The doctor says I have CTS. And both recommend surgery. So why the heck am I getting more tests, since I already know I’m opting for the procedure.
Two weeks later I’m in the back room of the Ortho Four States Orthopaetic Mall on a table getting shock treatments, aka Motor Nerve Conduction Tests ($50 copay), which consists of a series of electric shocks in increasing intensity to determine how far my CTS is advanced.
Now I’ve never been the recipient of a stun gun shock, or encouraged to “get along little doggie” by someone applying a little current to my behind with a cattle prod, but I can tell you that, after experiencing these tests, I don’t want to find out what they’re like.
About the time Dr. Herndon finished with my right side: “You’re going to feel a shock. Now this one’s little more intense. And this one more intense.” — resulting in my fingers and arms jerking and jumping like frog legs in a frying pan — I was having visions of old movies and TV serials.
Specifically, “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” in which, Randle McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) gets ECT after challenging the mental hospital system one too many times, and “Star Trek” in which Captain Kirk (William Shatner) instructs his Enterprise crew, unless things were completely out of control, to set their phasers to “stun,” thereby rendering their adversaries unconscious rather than killing them.
And what did Dr. Herndon tell me after the tests were completed? You guessed it … I have carpal tunnel syndrome! But the procedure was not in vain, I did find out I’ve also got a pinch in the ulnar nerve in my left elbow.
There’s procedure similar to the CTS surgery I can have done at my elbow to relieve that squeeze. It’s a minor surgery, but, as far as I’m concerned, minor surgery is an operation performed on somebody else.
After the shock tests, I had to return and get the “official” ($50 co-pay) diagnosis from the surgeon’s nurse practitioner and set the time to go back in three weeks to get the surgeries started.
It was so anticlimactic that I found myself wishing they would have just sent in the nurse practitioner a couple of weeks before when I was already there, two exam doors down from the Shock Doc.
Or just called me on the phone and visited with me about the results since they’d already interviewed and diagnosed me in person and knew I wanted to have the surgery, thereby saving time away from my job, a thirty minute drive and the cost of the gas. Not to mention the copay.
But as the old saying goes, wish in one hand, add your copay in the other. See which one fills up first.
— J.T. Knoll is a writer, speaker and prevention and wellness coordinator at Pittsburg State University. He also operates Knoll Training, Consulting & Mindfulness Services in Pittsburg. He can be reached at 231-0499 or email@example.com.