Doctors and health care

November 2008 I got a job at the Dollar Tree working part time. They kicked me off Welfare and food stamps, even though I was making a fraction of what I'd been collecting and it shouldn't have worked that way, because the social worker made a mistake (that it took me 4 months to resolve with her). Meantime, the additional stress of this caused me to have a panic attack that I couldn't deal with on my own.
I went to the doctor to get something to help calm me down, and was given a prescription for an anti stress medication, which helped me to relax (a little) so that I could get some sleep and carry on with my life. However, if I took the entire dose of medication I could not stay awake.
I worked at that job, which is probably the lowest paying, most physically active job that I have had in over 30 years, for 4 months, at which time it was clear to me that keeping the job was pointless, as it did not earn me enough to justify the benefits that I'd lost because of it, and I was physically incapable of keeping up with the work, as well as having no reliable babysitter for my kid, who could not be left alone. It was also clear that they had no intention of increasing my hours, or scheduling me for daytime hours, which might have been better for me.
By this time, I had a headache behind my left eye that would not go away, and went to see the doctor once more, only to be given another anti-stress medication, which was supposed to prevent migraine headaches. This medication also made it impossible for me to stay awake, if I took the entire dose, and did nothing for my headaches.
I spent the spring, summer, and fall of 2009 half awake, in constant pain, and unable to function. By December, my lower back hurt so much that I had to go see the doctor once again, and she sent me to a Chiropractor. He was supposed to work out the problem with my spine, and started popping my spine prior to any type of test to determine what the problem was because his "scanner" was in his other truck. The good news is that my lower back, although still in pain, is not so severely in pain that I cannot walk upright. The bad news is that now the pain is in my neck and shoulders, which were not in pain when I went to see him.
I stopped seeing the Chriopractor after 2 months because he was really unprofessional with me on the last visit, threatening to kick me out of his office if I did not make up a number to show the "precentage of improvement" in my pain, and gave me a hard time when I told him that I felt that I could not quantify that. The last treatment he gave me caused me quite a bit of pain in my neck and shoulders which had not been there before, as well.
After a while, I went back to the doctor to get referred to a Neurologist, because the Chiropractor had indicated that there were 3 areas in my spine which his scan had indicated were problem areas, and that this indicated a neurological problem. He had indicated that the problem was centered in my neck. While undergoing the chiropractic treatments, the headache behind my left eye disappeared, and the swelling in my left foot, which had been bothering me for quite a while, had gone down, indicating that the "neurological problem" was causing these problems, as well.
Meanwhile, I came down with a bout of pneumonia, and again went to my doctor, who asked me if I had ever smoked, then diagnosed me with sudden onset asmha and gave me a prescription inhaler, which aggravated the pneumonia, and told me not to take the antibiotics she prescribed unless I didn't get better. After that visit, I researched on WebMD, and my symptoms matched Pneumonia exactly and did not match the asmha at all, so I took the antibiotics and recovered. Had I followed her instructions, I probably would have had to be hospitalized (it was that bad).
So I got my referral, finally (because I had been asking my doctor to refer me for at least 6 months), and had to wait 3 months to get in for an appointment. A couple of days prior to the appointment I received a phone call from the doctor's office to confirm the appointment, and found out that the doctor was not a Neurologist, but a "pain specialist".
The pain specialist had an MRI done on my neck (mind you, ignoring the rest of my back, my headaches, or my foot problem, even though I had mentioned them to him), and decided that I have a degenerative disk problem and artheritis in my spine. He scheduled me for physical therapy and shots of steroids into my neck.
I started the physical therapy last week, and the physical therapist is only working on my neck, and doing nothing that I haven't been already doing at home every day. I was informed that Mainecare only allows 2 visits, however, the physical therapist keeps trying to schedule me for multiple visits per week over an extended period of time.
I went to get the steroid shot in my neck on Tuesday this week, and had to drive for an hour just to get there. The treatment only took about a half an hour, then I spent an hour driving home. By the next morning, the swelling in my neck had gone down noticably, but my pain level had gone way up. I have 2 more shots scheduled.
As I have been out of work for 5 years, I am in danger of loosing my house and everything I own at this point, and cannot afford to spent alot of money that I do not have for "treatments" which are not going to be more beneficial than those I've been giving myself at home. According to Mainecare, the physical therapy is only "necessary" if I have been hospitalized a few times because of the problem.
I feel strongly that the medication that the doctor gave me which made me immobile for months contributed strongly to the spinal problems, especially since the MRI showed clearly that I have artheritis in my spine and when you have artheritis you cannot be immobile or the joints will freeze up. You need to work those joints to keep them able to move. I also feel strongly that I will not benefit form costly physical therapy which is no better than the excercises I've already been doing, however, the money spent on those sessions will dramatically impact me because I already cannot luxeries like food.
How can this country possibly boast about the quality of their health care when it costs so much to get inadequate health care that you endanger your welfare to seek treatment?
I think that I am better off without consulting a physician and creating an excercise program for myself, based upon online research, to work out the problems. I've also started taking Gloucocemine for the joint problems.
Psychologically, I'm feeling better than I have in a long time, but this will not last if I have to suffer through another winter in Maine. I am already packing, and have arranged for places to stay in southern New England, with family and friends, and am planning on moving at the earliest opportunity. When I do, I will be looking for a job, and apartment, and a better school for the girl where she has a better chance of fitting in.