Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Frozen states

 I was looking forward to the needle. Yes, really, because for me it represented a reduction in the shoulder pain I've suffered for 5 months. After two GPs, xray and ultra-sound and the diagnosis of a rheumatologist I was on my way to have a cortisol injection into the shoulder joint. First time in France.

Range of movement determination, assessment of pain levels, history of the problem, a detailed fossick under ultrasound again and suddenly the orthopedic specialist stood up and told me there would be no infiltration today. It wasn't appropriate, the previous diagnosis was not correct.

I'd psyched myself up for it, comforting myself by the thought I'd feel less pain and be able to start exercising my shoulder, arm and hand again. Maybe I could get back to dance classes, take up my violin again, make love other than like a log of wood. Jean-Claude asked about surgery and almost got his head bitten off. No, under no circumstances would that be happening and the infiltration would probably do more damage than good. So it's inflammation, cause unknown but would generally come under the nomika of frozen shoulder, Quelle surprise, I've been saying that for 5 months.

This is not the first time I've had this problem. Years ago in NZ it occured with my left shoulder as a consequence of flinging a briefcase onto the passenger seat of my car. I was promptly (as in a few weeks) diagnosed with frozen shoulder by a sports doctor and injected by him on the spot, physio done over a few weeks and I was on the mend. It took more than a year to get most of the function back but at least I could use the shoulder and the pain was considerably lessened in the meantime.

But now I'm in France and I can't understand why things take so long to get done and always, always seem so complicated. It's always wait, wait, wait. I can't see a sports doctor and have him treat me on the spot. I have to go through a GP (actually two because the first one literally tapped my back, said I was a bit tense and should rest even longer and didn't investigate anything) to a rheumatologist who does nothing but send me to someone else who gives the injection (and then, perhaps rightly, disputes the diagnosis and refuses to give me the injection).

It all seems  inefficient to me. It's been an increasingly depressing 5 months with no end in sight, well, not this year, it seems. It's not just the shoulder issue, it's the layer you have to go through to get any action and there are no instant appointments, you can wait weeks, months to be seen with each layer. I have to go back to see the Rheumatologist because the diagnosis has been disputed and get advice on what I can and cannot do because, frankly, if I'm going to be in such pain I might as well play my violin in pain rather than watch TV in pain. I've done a bit of research on the effects of cortisone injections- they kill collagen cells and others so the advice against the infiltration may be sound but I just need some pain relief that works. My left shoulder's not in great shape either.

The physio required is a bit specific, apparently, and so I should go to Chartres for that rather than the convenience of my town, The later has so far proved completely useless for the condition, I must admit. Odd, in NZ the physios knew immediately what to do for frozen shoulder, I didn't have to go to another town to get specialised expertise.

It's another country, another system. I have to continue to try to roll with the punches. It would be nice if there were less 'frozen' issues for me in France. The frozen situation with my furniture took 6 months to be resolved, my titre de sejour is still frozen  8 months after I first applied. And then there's the 'Rive Gauche" mistral....

I've been living with the Mistral in my apartment since I moved in. The ventilation whines and screams like the maddening French Sirocco wind - the Mistral, only in my apartment. Everyone can hear it as they walk down the corridor but at least they can't hear it when they close their doors. It emanates from my apartment. In my case, the only time the screaming wind sound stops is when I open my door- clearly not a long-term option. How do you suppose I might have this resolved? Phone someone? Who? The building corporate body, the rental agency, the promoter who sold the building, the landlord who has nothing to do with the management of the apartment?

 JC has had to phone around, send emails which take a very long time to elicit a response, if at all. No-one is taking responsibility (this is France). I did complain early on and a plumber tried to fix it. The building ventilation was then shut off for several days but the sound came back and has gradually increased to the point where I must close all doors to try to deaden the sound to sleep. This is not always successful and I don't like the closed in feeling. France, please lighten up on me. I think there's a lot of cool stuff about you and I feel a great affinity but I DO feel I'm having more than my fair share of obstacles to overcome.

JC did his best to advance something for me today. Four months after ordering a light fitting I finally got it (though they neglected to tell me it had arrived). He installed it and put up another shelf for me. At last I have a light fitting in my dining room and I'm happy with it. I have a shelf to pop my cups and tea and sugar on within reach of my good arm.

All these little aspects of life that I discover are less than ideal and more frustrating than the ways things are done back in NZ are not to be underestimated when moving to another culture. They cannot usually be predicted in advance and often not even imagined. It's a part of the learning curve. There's always a sort of culture shock when I experience another French system. There are good aspects to the health system which make treatment reasonably affordable for most people though you still need to take out private insurance to top up. It's good that doctors question other doctors' decisions but can't we just defrost these situations  a bit faster?


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