Thursday, February 27, 2014

After my review of Dr. Deschner, I feel I should review some of the good doctors.

I know that my last post was very negative, and it was all true. It was a very negative 6 months of dealing with VCU Health/ MCV/ and Dr. Deschner. It was a nightmare and I sincerely hope no one else will have to experience what I went through.

Enough negativity, today I would like to praise the doctors who have actually helped me. Those who have done their jobs the best they could and provided me with a positive feeling that they know what they are doing.

First up of course is the one doctor who has been with me for this whole journey after being diagnosed with MS. The only doctor who has not only treated my broken back without drugs but has performed miracles in giving me back a range of motion I never though I would see again. Dr. Ryan McDonnell of Caroline Chiropractic is absolutely the best doctor that I am happy is on my team. I have no doubts that without him I would probably be in a wheelchair. Waiting on my back to heal from the fractures was the worst, though they did call and check on me. There is an open door policy that I love. No matter what day of the week, no matter how many patients he has scheduled they will never turn you away and tell you to come back later. I cannot say enough about Dr. Ryan or Betty who somehow maintains a good attitude even when she spends all day dealing with insurance companies. It is refreshing to have a doctor who genuinely cares for his patients and goes above and beyond to help in any way he can. There is a story that I have to tell people when I refer to my chiro. After the first 4 fractures, my ortho (with Dr. Suthar over at Virginia Interventional Spine in Fredericksburg, VA) absolutely refused to sign off on me going back into chiropractic care. REFUSED. Told me what a horrible idea chiro was and that it would cause more damage. Eventually I ended up leaving this idiot because he believed he knew more about my body than I did. Bumped into this guy about 6 months after I fired him. he called my name in a parking lot and I turned my head to see who it was. He was amazed at the range of motion that had returned to my neck and asked me which doctor I was with. I laughed and told him Dr. Ryan… the chiropractor that you called a quack and refused to sign off on me returning to. And that, ladies and gentlemen is why I will not even begin to look at any chiropractor in this area and why I drive all the way to Ladysmith. He is the best!


Sadly, the second doctor that comes to mind who is great at his job and I have never had a problem getting in to see is Dr. Huffman over at Urology Associates of Fredericksburg. Though I never look forward to these appointments for obvious reasons, I am usually out of there in under an hour. Plus the bow-tie and cowboy boots makes me laugh every time and he soooo reminds me of Bill Nye the Science Guy.  The nurses there are great and we have been through some rather invasive tests ; the kind that would make a gynecologist blush. The staff is always nice, I have no problems getting a return call if I leave a message. Unlike most doctors they actually call you with test results instead of scheduling a second appointment to find out. My first meeting with Dr. Huffman was interesting to say the least, he had been held up in an emergency surgery so he was a little rushed coming in. He is reading my chart and is somewhere on page two when he stops and very seriously asks me if I have ever been tested for Multiple Sclerosis. I laughed and referred him to page three where I listed MS. I was impressed that he understood this disease enough to recognize the symptoms and could see right away what the problem was. Unfortunately you really have to leave your modesty at the door for this office, but its not as humiliating as it could be and I do appreciate that.


Number three on my list would be Dr. Dahlgren at West End Orthopedics. Very nice guy, and very helpful. Sadly, he was cut from my list of doctors as the ortho issues I was seeing him for were determined to be a deal with it or surgery option. In the end I chose to deal with it. The surgical option was not a viable option as it was something that would also require subsequent surgeries. Dr. Dahlgren was very professional, and knowledgeable . I will say that although Dr. D is awesome I cannot say the same for his colleagues. Dr. Sciaccia wouldn’t operate on my back because I have MS. And Dr. Brown who performed my third foot surgery was inadequate to say the least. I was in the hospital prepped drugged and ready for surgery when the nurse asked if I had any allergies. I then had to wait 4 hours for a non-latex operating room to open up because the doctor didn’t request one though he was told in advanced several times and on every form I had to fill out before surgery date. After 5 hours in surgery I awake and discover Dr. Brown took off before I woke up from anesthesia. I didn’t have a clue how surgery went until he came back the next morning to tell me. This is the surgery that resulted in a big metal plate, and 7 screws holding my foot together. It fell apart in less than 6 months and I was told to walk on it until the screw breaks. the only thing holding this screw in place is my skin. This story leads us to ….


Dr. Faccaros with Ortho Specialty Clinic of Fredericksburg. My first visit the only thing he had to go on was my X-ray they performed that day because Dr. Brown’s office refused to send my files over (Even though I went down to Richmond to sign the form because they couldn’t fax it to me). Dr. Faccaros puts me back in the boot and starts me on my way to scheduling surgery. Due to Dr. Brown and Dr. Deschner being incompetent and unprofessional I was forced to cancel surgery last minute. Dr. Faccaros was very nice about it and very understanding. I will end my segment of this guy here as I am still awaiting surgery which will be happening in 2 weeks.


Also worth a note, is Advanced Spine and Pain who took over after I fired Dr. Deschner. They were able to work me in quickly, and the doctor I met with was great. She presented me with many more options than the last doctor and we opted for a medication that had worked well in the past. She asked questions and listened to me when I spoke. I am now on a medication that not only works better, but is half the dosage of what I had been on. To boot my new med doesn’t come with any of the side effects I dealt with for the last two years. I am impressed with them so far and hoping we continue without any problems.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dr. Stephen Deschner, VCU Health System, MCV- Richmond, Virginia

VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) Health System, MCV (Medical College of Virginia) Hospital, Spine Center, Stony Point Virginia- Dr. Stephen Deschner

I am writing this post in hopes that it helps anyone who is looking for a pain management doctor in Virginia. I did not want to see these people to begin with, not only because it is a 2 hour drive from my house but also because they are affiliated with MCV Hospital and I wanted nothing to do with this office to begin with. When my pain doctor at Capital Spine Center in Fredericksburg, Virginia (who took over when my nurse practitioner left) wrote the referral I asked multiple times for anyone else. I also asked my primary care doctor to refer me to anyone that is NOT affiliated with MCV. They both told me that I had no other options and Dr. Deschner was the leading doctor in the state of Virginia.

Allow me to digress for a moment as to why I was referred to this office to begin with. I had been a patient of Capital Spine for about 2 years. My first visit with them was not a good one; I met with a doctor and a nurse practitioner. Dr. Wisor was the doctor assigned to my case. He was an arrogant doctor who I was not as ease with. He yelled at me for firing my last guy and told me I can’t just fire a pain doctor… really? I mean why the hell do you think I am here? If you don’t want the money my insurances pays that is fine I will find another doctor. After meeting with Dr. Wisor and being unimpressed I was then introduced to his nurse practitioner (Michelle O’Conner). She was great and I was told she will be taking over my case and I will be dealing with her from then on. Michelle was great, and with her help I was able to weed out which meds I had been taking from other doctors that were not working. We continued for almost 2 years. We had reached a point that the pain meds were not working well and we were researching other options to discuss at my next appointment. I then received a call 2 weeks later telling me that my appointment had been changed and Michelle is no longer with the practice and I am scheduled to meet with Dr. Raymond Greaser. It is at this appointment that Dr. Greaser informs me that my body seems to have grown a tolerance of this medication (Morphine Sulfate 30 mg 4 x a day) and that we need to consider another option. During this 20 minute visit Dr. Greaser mentions his medical degree from Harvard and interned at Johns Hopkins. Instead of taking over my case and helping me he decided I was unworthy of his services and he wrote a referral to MCV without warning. I explained to him the reasons I do not want to use MCV due to previous experiences. He ignored me and sent me on my way. I then followed up with my primary care doctor (Balaji Raghu), who also agreed with Dr. Greaser that I needed to see VCU/MCV Health.

I finally conceded that none of my doctors are willing to help me and I had to go to the appointment with Dr. Deschner. My first appointment the doctor and I spent 2 hours going over my medical history step by step. He also agrees that the Morphine Sulfate is not working as well and it should. We then go over two other options in great detail, this takes about another hour. I am told the two options at this point are either Fentanyl or Methadone. Due to my age he did not want to prescribe Methadone. We decided to try the Fentanyl Patches. I then had to drive back to Fredericksburg to see my neurologist. After that appointment I had to drive to 3 different pharmacies before I found one that had the patches. The first day it took a few hours before I began to feel some pain relief. This was one of the hottest days of the year at over 104 degrees outside. I grilled steaks for dinner that night. All was well until bedtime. I went to bed, and as soon as I lay down I was hit with overwhelming nausea and very dizzy. I attempted to close my eyes and wait it out. Instead I found myself running to the bathroom and losing my dinner. I went through my prescription information packet and found on page 3 a note that says not to exercise, take hot showers, use a hot tub, or do anything that would cause an increase of body temperature as it would cause too much of the medication to go into my system at once. This would have been nice to know before starting this med. I was extremely nauseated for 3 days. The pain relief stopped during day 2. I contacted Dr. Deschner’s office and was told to wait it out as I may be adjusting to the medication change. I was also told to try changing locations of new patch (every 3 days). I broke out in a rash the day I removed the patch. I put a new patch on my leg this time instead of my arm. I then broke out in a rash on my leg and still couldn’t eat anything. At this point I decided this was not working for me and I removed the patch and treated the rashes. I called the doctor to move up my appointment and still had to wait another 4 days before my appointment; with no pain medication and 6 broken vertebrae, a broken foot, and Multiple Sclerosis. At this point Dr. Deschner decides I am not worthy of even considering putting me on Methadone (even though he just told me at my last appointment that I had 2 options; Methadone or Fentanyl), and then wrote a prescription for the same Morphine Sulfate for the same amount and same frequency. He will not discuss any other options at this time.

Fast forward a few months to January. I am still complaining about the Morphine Sulfate not working. This is the reason I was sent to see him in the first place. Knowing that I will be having surgery soon he does not want to put me on a new medication and have to worry about potentially harmful side effects. This means I am to stay on the Morphine Sulfate, doesn’t matter that my body has built a tolerance to this medication over the now 2 years I have been on it. I was able to fill the January prescription without a problem. I was finally cleared for surgery and scheduled to go in on Friday, Feb 14th. When I went to pick up my prescription refill on Feb 10th, I was informed that my insurance refused to cover the dosage. They would only cover up to three a day. At this point I decide to get in touch with the doctor’s office to get it straight instead of losing one fourth of my prescribed dosage. I also figure if they do not get it straight by Wednesday afternoon, I will go on and have the prescription filled for the 90 pills vs. the 120 prescribed. From Monday to Wednesday I call repeatedly to the doctor trying to get this taken care of. When it still has not been cleared up by Wednesday afternoon I bite the bullet and tell the pharmacy to just fill the 90 because I do not have time to wait.

This is when the bombshell is dropped. The pharmacist cannot get the prescription to go through for 90 either as the insurance will only approve 3 tablets. Total. Of the 120 prescribed. This is less than a 1 day supply. I am scheduled for surgery in 2 days. Call VCU Health, again, they were no help. I was told that I needed to contact my insurance company. It takes me 95 minutes (yes, over an hour and a half) to get through to a representative with my insurance company. I explain the situation and the importance of getting this done before Friday. The rep sends the necessary paperwork to VCU/ Dr. Deschner along with marking the claim as expedited response because I am out of medication. Thursday morning I contact Dr. Deschner’s office and am informed they did indeed receive the fax and have sent it back but have not heard back from the insurance company. I remind them I am scheduled for surgery the next day. I call back to my insurance company and they tell me they have not received anything from the doctor. Get the doctor back on the line and ask again to get the info sent to insurance. They tell me they have sent it multiple times and every time they call they cannot get through. I ask if he can write me something else so we can just get through this surgery, I am then informed that Dr. Deschner is on vacation until Feb 18th, and that no one else can write me a prescription. This makes me wonder which doctor is supposedly signing the prescription amount override paperwork. This lack of help on their part has now led me to cancel my surgery last minute because I cannot get my pain medication filled.

In all this mishap cost me:

· 9 days without pain meds

· 27 phone calls to Dr. Deschner/ VCU/ MCV

· 7 calls to my insurance company

· Last minute surgery cancellation

· 4 trips to the pharmacy

· An emergency trip to the doctor’s office (2 hours each way from my house)

· A trip from doctor office to downtown Richmond

· A quarter or a mile hike each way from my car to the records department on a broken foot.

I have seen some pretty crappy doctors since being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis but this one takes the cake and the trophy. Of the 27 calls that I made to Dr. Deschner’s office, I was able to speak to the nurse 4 times, the other 23 calls resulting in me leaving a message for her and only 3 of those messages were returned. It is day 9 of me being out of pain meds and getting nothing accomplished on their end that I got in my car and drove 2 hours to this office. I was coming off of the exit on the interstate when they called to tell me they had finally gotten my medication approved. At this point I continued on to their office so that I could get a copy of my medical file to take to the next doctor because I was absolutely done with this office.

One would think asking them to print out your medical record (Pushing the print button after opening my electronic patient file) would not be a big pain, again I am proven wrong. After filling out my request, I am informed that the medical records are handled by MCV, and they would send my request on Friday (It was Wednesday), and then it would take 3 to 4 WEEKS to be processed and sent to me. OR… I could drive to downtown Richmond to MCV, and get them myself and yes I have to pay for getting a copy of my own, but they would be happy to send them to my doctor for free. This is pretty much the only option I have as I cannot reschedule my foot surgery until I have a new pain management doctor.

Not only am I adding another 40 miles to my trip to get to MCV, but I have to pay to park in the only parking deck which is so full it take me 5 levels below the street before I find a spot. Of course this spot is at the far end of the parking lot and I have to walk (with my broken foot in a cast to hold it together) all the way to the other end to get to the elevator. I make it into the hospital and get directions to the records department which is 3 buildings away all connected with tunnels and steep ramps (according to my maps on my phone it is a quarter of a mile hike). I finally hobble into the records department. Fortunately for me, they are somewhat competent and they are able to produce my medical file and it only cost me $9.00 for all 18 pages of it. Then I had to hobble back to my car, pay for parking and make my way back up to Fredericksburg. Then instead of going home, I had to go back to the pharmacy to get my medication.

I was fortunate enough to find a doctor up here that was not only willing to see me but willing to actually treat me. I decided to write all of this out for one reason. I hope that anyone considering using VCU, MCV, or Dr.Deschner sees this before they make an appointment. I hope that I can save at least one person from ever having to go through all of this unnecessary torture. There was no reason whatsoever that anyone would be treated like this. I know that this is a really long post but I feel like this real-life nightmare needed to be shared.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Valentine’s Day is in 3 days.

I have a date this Valentine’s Day. I plan on wearing a very revealing gown for the doctor who can’t keep his hands off of me. He has told me he plans on strapping me down and having his way with me. I was also told to pack a bag because he is not letting me go home afterwards.


Yes, that’s right boys and girls… I am scheduled for surgery #4 on Friday. It’s an in-patient procedure. Even though we have been trying to schedule surgery this week, so I had my fiancé take his last week of vacation because we were sure it would be this week, my idiot primary doctor couldn’t pull his head out of his ass long enough to sign my pre-surgery clearance. Did I mention my fiancé is due back at work on Friday?


Because I wasn’t stressed out enough my doctor decided to make matters worse by making me think there was something wrong with my heart and the foot surgery was the least of my problems. My EKG test came back abnormal. Instead of redoing the EKG test while I was still hooked up to the machine he decided to freak out and send me to a cardiologist insisting that I go the same day.


I go to the Cardiologist that afternoon. I met with the first doctor who tells me they are doing an ultrasound on my heart and if that comes back normal they will clear me for surgery, if it doesn’t come back normal they will request a stress test. Cardio doctor number 2 does the ultrasound, refuses to tell me anything about it and schedules me for a stress test the next morning. He tells me he is ordering a nuclear stress test instead of a regular physical test because my foot is broken.


I go home that evening and try VERY hard not to freak out. I get schedules all coordinated so that I can make it to the test on time. The next morning I wake up to discover school is a 2 hour delay for the children. Which messes up the whole plan and I end up calling my mom to wake her up and beg her to come to my house and get the kids off to school. Everyone is taken care of and schedules are once again adjusted.


The stress test is a fasting test, so I am not allowed food or drink before I go. Mind you my meds make my mouth drier than the Sahara. Add to this the stress of the morning and not allowed coffee before getting in my car and driving in morning traffic towards DC to get there. I am injected with dye and then sent to the waiting room that is filled to the point that there are no empty chairs.  I am then allowed to have water. We all sit together in that room for the next 4 hours! I was then called back for a set of pictures and then released to the real world where I am told to grab a cup of coffee and a quick lunch and to return in 30 minutes. YAY COFFEE! I return to the office and was immediately called back.


I was injected with the nuclear drug that causes your heart stress and then… I kid you not, they still put me on a treadmill. Yes I am wearing an air cast. Yes, I have told them repeatedly I need them to sign off on my foot surgery. Yes I pointed out the reason they ordered a nuclear test was because my foot is broken. And still, I am on a treadmill. And by the way if you want to know how that nuclear test feels, it’s like an elephant sat on your chest without warning and makes you suddenly dizzy (which is why I almost fell coming off the damn treadmill). Another set of pictures after that and I am on my way to get my blood work done that the doctor needs to have the results on the next day.  The stress test took 5 hours in total.

After all of this is over, I left a message with surgeon letting them know what I had to do before primary doctor can sign off on surgery. I also let them know about treadmill. He was not a happy camper. The next morning I go back to my primary guy who ordered all of this crap. I tell him about the test, now he’s pissed off they put me on a treadmill. He FINALLY signs off on the surgery and they found no problems with my heart.


We have been planning surgery for over a month to perform this surgery this week. Since the day he told me we are doing surgery this week, I have had 3 appointments with my primary guy, blood work, urine test, 2 EKGs, 1 stress test, a second appointment with my surgeon, 1 appointment with my pain management guy, and a nerve test at the hospital. Also got fiancé to take this week off, trying to get kids schedules to coordinate with his days off, and get all meds refilled and packed. Surgeon got the clearance form on Thursday of last week, I called Friday to confirm they received it. I don’t get a call back until Monday, and the only day we can get an operating room this week is the one day I asked not to have surgery because I know the man is going back to work on Friday.


One would think this story is finally coming to an end, but wait, there’s more! I go to refill my pain meds. Same prescription for the same amount as last month. My insurance paid for these meds last month. This month however, my insurance will only cover 90 of my 120 pills prescribed. If they fill 90 I will not get the last 30 pills I need. They charge my insurance $90 a month for these pills. So I ask can I pay for what the insurance doesn’t cover. No, I cannot do that. But I have options, I can try to get the dr to preauthorize it with insurance, I can get the 3/4 of prescription that insurance will cover, or I cam pay for the entire thing which will not cost me $90 but will cost me over $400.

This is my life lately. Nope, nothing to stress about here! I am not looking forward to this surgery, but damn I will be happy when it’s over.