Friday, July 13, 2012

Just Need to Ask.

As you have all realized, I am not enjoying my GP placement as I haven't really gotten to do anything hands-on. Learning is minimal and I essentially just sit the day away. Last week, I requested to sit in with a GP who has a special interest in MSK. Finally got a schedule I could smile about. I was placed in a surgery where majority of the patients came in with MSK complaints. Then my next day was placed in the hospital (oh how much I miss the hospital environment) to shadow a physiotherapist.

Because I am so sick of sitting around, I finally opened my mouth and asked if I could do joint examinations.  The GP was more than happy to allow me to examine and started introducing me as the "Student doctor with a special interest in muscles and bones." Clinic for once actually went by quickly and was fairly enjoyable. Then I decided to ask the physio on my next day if I could participate and get involved. She was also more than happy to allow me. The physio had a special interest in upper limbs while I am interested in lower limbs. It was good for me as I am obviously missing quite a bit of knowledge about upper limbs. I learned loads about the common injuries and presentations you see in upper limbs. I also got to work on my upper limb examination skills which involved a bit of neuro; therefore, it was a really good refresher.  It was also fun to talk to someone who knows the orthopaedic consultants in the hospital and just learn more about the other sub-specialties in orthopaedics.  I got to know about the spinal unit and the shoulder consultants and what they would usually see.

It was also cool to see what would count as an urgent referral as we had one patient who we believe to have cauda equina syndrome. Cauda Equina is essentially where your spinal cord goes further down your spinal column than most people. Most people's spinal cord terminate at L1/L2; therefore, when you do a lumbar puncture, you make sure you go below that to avoid the risk of paralysis. The patient presented with urinary retention symptoms and decreased anal tone.  He also complained of changed sensation in his genitalia region.  It was evident that he also had bi-lateral leg weakness. His symptoms fit cauda equina syndrome so we had to urgently refer him to get an MRI scan. It was also interesting because the patient was claustrophobic and he made it very clear he does not want an MRI scan. We told him that the hospital has a wider scanner so it won't be as tight, but the patient was still adamant that he doesn't want to go through a closed scanner. He allowed us to refer, but he told us that he will refuse to go in on the day. We told him there is medication that he can take before he goes in to keep him calm that he can get from his GP. I don't know why but I felt like he is still adamant that he isn't going to get the scan done and will not go get the medication from his GP. Cauda Equina Syndrome can be quite serious and need to be treated so it was a bit frustrating to see someone refusing a simple scan which can rule out cauda equina.

Then I got a bit of a reality check near the end of physio clinic. I have suffered from a shoulder injury for 5 years now, and never really bothered to take myself to see a doctor. It's a thing about medics: "Medics either go see a doctor too early, or go too late." In my case: I just never go. A shoulder patient came in who obviously needs a shoulder replacement due to OA in the shoulder. The patient had very limited range of movement and you could hear his shoulder grinding as he was abducting his arm. He explained to us that it has completely hindered his lifestyle as he can't even reach up to get things from the cupboard and it is quite painful. He then mentioned that when he was young (my age) he had a few shoulder injuries and reckons that due to those injuries - he now has pretty bad OA of his shoulder. Once the patient left, I told the physio about my shoulder and she sternly told me to go see a GP and get a referral to either physio or orthopaedics as  I am susceptible to early OA if I don't get it sorted out. Even worse, it could hinder my ability to do orthopaedics in the future as it requires a lot of strength and lifting.

To be honest, the physio is right. I've left my shoulder long enough and it is obviously not getting better. Hate being on the other side of the table as the patient.

No comments:

Post a Comment