Always Get a Second Opinion!

I went to see my radiation Oncologist today; Dr. David Diamond in Winter Park, Florida. He’s basically been the coordinator of all my treatments – surgical, medical, and radiation. So when I see him, I tend to get the “bigger” picture of all of my treatments. I also have the best relationship with him – he is an amazing doctor.

Anyway, for the past couple of months I have had this “numbness” and “tingling” in my lower back, buttocks, and legs whenever I look straight down towards my feet or the floor.

I always assumed that I had a pinched nerve or something. I never had this issue before my head and neck surgery, so I thought that it was a side effect of my radical neck dissection in September.

So when I went to see my surgeon this week I asked him about it. He suggested that I might have arthritis and was going to schedule a follow-up appointment for me to get it tested. That didn’t sit right with me – I knew it had to be something else. I don’t have any arthritis and it was too coincidental that it started showing up just as I was recovering from my treatments. I thanked my surgeon and told him I would call to schedule later.

When I went to Dr. Diamond today I brought the same issue up. He didn’t even blink. He looked at me and immediately said “I did that to you.”

Apparently, it’s rare but it does happen. Radiation against the spinal column affects the nerves. So, when I compress the nerves in my neck by looking down, the damage to the nerves translates into a feeling of “electricity” running down the spine. That’s EXACTLY what I have. For me, it’s a literal “shock” at the base of my spine and into my legs. It doesn’t run all the way down my spine.

The good news – it will go away. It takes time, but my nerves will heal.

This is why it’s IMPERATIVE that you never get a single opinion, people. My surgeon, who did my neck surgery made a guess based on his skill set and knowledge that, had I taken seriously, may have led to arthritis medication that I didn’t need. With no training in radiation oncology he had no reason to suspect that radiation could have temporarily damaged my nerves.

Your health is in your own hands. I trust all of my doctors – but each one has only one small part of the puzzle that is my health and well-being. It’s up to me to pull it all together and use that knowledge to make the right choice. I urge you all to consider this when seeing your health care providers.

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