Shoulder Injury II

David Blends up Tahini
AREMENIA, Colombia
November 2, 2019

I haven't been recovering from my shoulder injury as rapidly as the doctor predicted. My arm still has lots of pain and a limited range of motion. I'm doing what I can to seek medical attention--but the stages are slow and incremental.

First, I had a follow-up with a local orthopedic specialist. To schedule the appointment meant waiting a week for an open date. Yet, once the consultation began it took all of five minutes before the doctor dismissed me saying, "Go find a clinic where they can run an MRI." He named one within walking distance.

Gladys and I hiked about 20 minutes across town to a building with a large sign announcing "RESONANCIA MAGNETICA" atop. She inquired about prices and open dates.

"It's 600,000 pesos for an MRI," the receptionist answered. "The only date we have free this week is tomorrow. But, it would be for a 'dawn' appointment."

"What's a 'dawn' appointment?" Gladys asked.

"The only time we have open is at 2:00 in the morning," the receptionist said.

Gladys put this all to me in simple English. I made some basic calucuations. 600,000 Colombian pesos would work out to somewhat less than $200 USD. I was inclined to have the MRI done as soon as possible. But, both of my hosts would be dead asleep at 2:00 in the morning. I'd have difficulty navigating my way across town and back again at that hour. I doubted I would understand all the instructions at the clinic.

"That's a horrible time to come back here," I said to Gladys. "Shall we see if anywhere else in town has an open date tomorrow or the next day?"

Gladys agreed and started searching on her smartphone for other clinics offering to run an MRI. After calling she announced good news:

"There's a place near our house that has an open slot tomorrow at 11:00 A.M. They charge only 350,000 pesos."

Gladys Shops for Vegetables
At a sane hour and costing exactly $100 USD this appointment was clearly better than the "dawn appointment" we'd just been offered. We thanked the receptionist at the clinic in whose lobby we were still standing. She seemed indifferent to our decision not to schedule the 2:00 A.M. MRI.

Undergoing the MRI the next day was a disturbing experience. I'd never had one before. At first when I laid myself down on the machine bed it didn't seem so bad. I thought I might fall sleep, even. The attendant taking the reading gave me a clunky headset to block out noise. It looked like a pair of 1970s earphones. I hadn't realized how loud and disturbing the MRI reading would be.

Even with the operating sound muffled there was an inescapable constant backbeat coming from somewhere. It sounded something like a drum kit emulating a clothes dryer. Every few minutes some other loud noise would screech or squeal for a minute or more. They only thing I can compare those noises to would be highly amplified and distorted background music to some 1980s video game with the occasional jackhammer thrown in.

The auditory cacophony was unpleasant enough. Soon, it got worse at other sensory levels. My injured arm quickly became painful being locked into one position for an extended period. Next, I began to feel a sense of claustrophobia. I was, after all, stuffed inside a tube with no room to move or even wiggle about. Before they began the process the attendant had said it would take only eight minutes. That sounded tolerable. But, I'm sure I was in there for well over twice that time. (Gladys later concurred that it was well longer than the time promised though she hadn't kept track of exactly how long the MRI ran, either.) I began to feel short of breath. Just when I started to call out, "My arm hurts!" the bed I was on slid down out of the chamber freeing me to move and breathe freely, again. Ugh. I hope I never have to get crammed into one of those tubes, again.

Sign at MRI Clinic
Upon leaving the clinic we were handed a plastic bag with printed proofs of the MRI and a CD-ROM of all the data. Those were given simultaneously with bad news: the MRI wouldn't be read and interpreted for another two weeks. For some reason the results needed to be sent up to Bogota to be read. Which means I won't be able to schedule another follow-up with another orthopedic specialist until those results are back.

At this point I'm trying to cut ahead of all this process of waiting. With all the time it's been taking to get to the next step in proper recovery I've decided to reach out to contacts back in the U.S. to ask if my situation requires more immediate attention. Perhaps I should seek treatment in Bogota or even back in the U.S.

Both of Devon's parents are doctors. I sent her a detailed description of my situation hoping that she might pass it along so one of them could weigh in to tell me what my situation sounds like to their professional ears. I even uploaded all the data from the MRI CD-ROM, as well, in case that's either of their field of specialization.

Which still leaves me in a state of waiting to hear back what comes next with this arm that is ever-so-slowly mending.