Sunday, May 04, 2014

Dealing with Back Pain in Kuwait

2 weeks ago, I woke up to very bad back pain.   It was so bad that I found it very difficult to drive myself to the doctor (and then wait in a waiting room full of horribly uncomfortable chairs to see someone).  I’ve had back pain for a long time; as long as I can remember, but it has never been this bad. 

Several years ago, after a trip to the US, I went to a general practitioner here at International Clinic for back pain.  He asked me to walk around the room and told me that I probably had more exercise in the US than I normally have here, and I should take hot showers before going to bed.  Okey dokey.  Did that. Doans pills out the wazoo, hot water bottles, Thermacare pads (LOVE THEM).... Seemed to help. 
Desert Girl's friends
So, with this new terrible pain, I went back to the same GP (because my wonderful doctor is on vacation) who again said it was muscle pain; gave me muscle relaxers and some low-dose pain killers and sent me on my way. (Like so many, "take this pill and it will be ok.")   I was still hurting a few days later, but again, thought it was just muscle pain.  A week later, I went back to him and he did an X-ray.  He read the results to me (while SMSing the entire time!) and said, “I know, right?  I was surprised when I saw it too....”  after noticing that my jaw was on the floor.  (SMS, SMS....).  WTF.  I could see clearly that I had a slipped disc.  It was out of line with the others.  Sheeeeeeeet.  He sent me off to Seef Hospital for an MRI.

Anyhoo, I like Seef Hospital. Everyone from the floor cleaners to the top doctors were friendly (with the exception of one very mean receptionist on the 3rd floor).  It is clean, they have good equipment, they take my insurance.  BAM.  Plus, unlike International Clinic, there aren’t 4000 screaming, crying, snotty kids around.  There were, however, a lot of Americans (insurance, I guess) having very interesting Oprah-esque conversations that I tuned into; many about the differences and similarities of US-Kuwait cultures.  (Quite enjoyable while drinking my Starbuck's latte from the lobby and munching on codeine.)

Side note:  Why is it that when hospitals or clinics know that they have sick patients (especially when you are going somewhere for orthopaedic stuff), they have crappy, uncomfortable, bad-for-you chairs in their waiting rooms?  WTF.  Make an investment!
Did the MRI and within a few days, I had the result.  GP Dude told me I have a fractured disc, ordered me, accusingly, to “lose weight!”  and  told me to go to Seef Hospital to see an orthopedic surgeon.  (Thanks for your friendly advice that I didn’t know before, in-between your personal SMSs....).  Do I need surgery?  Is this going to be life-altering?  Is this pain going to last?  OMG.   

I went to my car and cried for 20 minutes.  What the hell am I going to do with the 3 closets full of sexy high heels (priorities, right)?  How am I going to jet ski this summer?  Can I keep my low-to-the-ground sports car?  What about walking my big dog?   Eeek. 

Back to Seef for the orthopaedic dude.  No appointments were available, so I went in as a walk-in.  (Again, refer to side note above – shitty chairs!) Nurses took my vitals, weighed me, checked my height, and  2 hours later, I got to see dude.  Luckily, he wasn’t SMSing.  He had me walk around, he looked at my MRI.

First, Can you believe that I have shrunk by like 3 centimeters?  WTF!  Maybe it is just the conversion difference between metric and imperial; let us pray.  I’m too short to be shrinking.  Say it aint so.  And no heels?  WTF.

So dude didn’t do extensive testing.  He just looked at my MRI and told me how bad it was (fractured disc) and that I should start physiotherapy right away at their hospital.   He had me walk a little.  Told me no back brace (it weakens the back muscles when you really need to strengthen them and your core muscles)  and told me to wear heels between 2-3cm (no higher than 5cm).  At least I get SOME heel.  Yippee.   He also handed me a little Xeroxed paper with “Sketchers – foam inserts” on it, so I believe he is getting promotional fees from the only sketchers store in Kuwait. Ok granted,  I’m a sucker for marketing and I know it is blatantly obvious that it’s a plug, but I’m going to buy them anyways. Phuckit phuckit phuckit.    He said no jet skiing until I had a 6-pack like Arnold (I haven’t seen Arnold recently...  do you think his abs have gone flab?)

After-note:  I am not impressed by the care I received at Al-Seef after several visits now.  (As my friend, Bobarino says, "Million dollar airport; 25 cent control tower."  Nice facility, but ....)  The ortho was not thorough and left me with more doubts/worries than I should have had (after waiting to see him with no updates from mean receptionist for 2 hours).  I accidentally left my file; they found it and held it at the reception desk and no one ever called me - I hunted it down by physically going there.  The ortho receptionist was rude and unwelcoming.  They never called me back regarding my physiotherapy (details, and if it was covered under insurance).  When I went back and discussed with the insurance rep at the hospital, he took a personal call in the middle of my conversation and acted like I wasn't sitting there.  I went to the patient care rep to explain all of this and she just kept telling me that "Physiotherapy is in the basement."  I filled out a complaint form.  She said they would call and guess what - THEY DIDN'T.  Obviously, they don't need my insurance money.  Thank you.

And then, and then, and then....

God works in mysterious and wonderful ways....

I have a friend who is known to be the best radiologist in Kuwait.  I haven’t seen him in about 10 years (which is RIDONCULOUS because we used to be such close friends and I truly adore him).   So, I called him to see if he could read my MRI and get a 2nd/3rd opinion.  Turns out that he has another specialty in orthopaedics.  I didn’t know.  Thank you, God.

His waiting room at Dar Al Shifa Hospital kind of freaked me out.  My djinnis don’t like the big religious experience being pushed upon me; and my djinnis started to make me shaky... there were a lot of beardo’s and ninjas and stares.  Oh my.

So when I finally got in, he read the MRI and then had me do some tests; bending over chairs (was that really necessary or might he have a thing for me?), stress tests on my toes, etc . I asked him if I should take off all my clothes (he’s really handsome). (I do this everywhere – even at the dentist.  If I’m going to be uncomfortable, why shouldn’t they?)    He told me that both me and my friend who went with me should take our clothes off.  Ha ha.   Gave his nurse some giggles.   He then handed me a DVD which contained all the exercises/advice (proactive doctor – way to go!)  I would need and told me to join a gym with aquarobics for 3 months.  He said that I was probably born with a defect in that disc (my mom now blames herself) and that I’ve probably had chronic pain my whole life (which I have, but I thought was normal) and that I've just had a bad episode several weeks ago that should pass.  He said even without the physiotherapy or aquarobics, that I would probably feel better anyways in a few weeks with muscle relaxers.  I asked him about shoes and he said I can wear high heels as soon as I’m not in pain anymore.  Whew.  There IS hope!

If anyone needs an outstanding orthopaedic guy, Dr. Tariq Sinan at Dar al Shifa is THE only one I will ever recommend in Kuwait.  I have also heard outstanding things about a man named Adam Harris at Wholistic Health who does physiotherapy.  I have an appointment to go see him later this month.  Does anyone know where they have acquarobics in Kuwait?

Y’alls  know me – I’m a big emotional mess so this has been nothing but one big pity party for me.  It’s all ok.  Sometimes you need to take a few steps back I guess.  Sometimes your true friends reveal themselves when you need them; and there is a time for others to fall by the wayside (Springtime is all about renewal....)

Over the weekend, I was supposed to take Mikey to the obedience school.  It was a big event because I haven't really left the house much.   I have been having trouble taking him out for exercise and now that this disc thang has been diagnosed, dude can’t be pulling my back out of whack.  He needs to learn to listen.  He’s just too big and powerful.

First thing that happened was my car broke down for the first time ever.  It overheated before I ever got out of the neighbourhood (took it by tow truck to a mechanic I know in Shuwaikh and he fixed the water pump in 3 hours).  It’s like someone has cursed me.  Sheeeeet.

My friend (that's right - we're just in the frickin FRIEND ZONE)  came over and drove me and Mike the 45 minutes (he drives like a grandmother) up to where the school is.  I had an appointment to drop Mike off.  Get this:  the trainer dude never answered the phone!  (He called later after we spent almost an hour driving around Kabd waiting.  I was mad to say the least.)   I still feel like the guy is the best in Kuwait, so I am going to give him another try, but I’m concerned now.  I didn’t know (couldn’t remember because I only went there once at night) where the school was, so I couldn’t go bang on the door.  Mikey is so damn smart (cunning, conniving, manipulating) that he’ll learn stuff in no time.  I just worry because he is SERIOUSLY a big, whiny mama’s boy.  I think I’m going to be like my sister was when my nephew first went off to overnight camp; on a rooftop nearby with night-vision goggles and camo, checking to see if he’s hydrated...  He’s got to get obedience training, seriously:   I bought several pairs of new flat shoes and the little shyt managed to open my armoire and eat 3 pairs!  What IS it with dogs and shoes?  He has about $300 worth of chewy toys and yet any shoe, it’s on.  Whyyyyyy?  I’ll buy the Skechers as soon as I’m ok to walk into a mall without pain issues. He better not eat them too or it’s ON.

I'm going to start physiotherapy and hopefully aquarobics.  When I'm done, I'm going to be able to do this and get back to contortions (She looks like a fun gal, right?)


Anonymous said...

Hi DG,

Sorry to hear about your back.

I'm not tryingt to undermine your doctor friend, nor stating explicity that he is not correct. All I suggest is that this is YOUR BACK and I would only take an advice from the experts.

In Qatar, Aspetar is one of the best facilities in the area. Check the profiles of the surgeons specialized in Back pain/injuries(, get an appointment & a flight booking; and check your back.

Something I would do...


Anonymous said...

You need to take this matter very seriously . The best way to have a life free from back pain is to strengthen you back muscles . So after the pain stops completely ,I advise you to start making exercise part of your life style . You can join a health club and ask them to develop a routine for you or you can simply go for a serious swimming session you can start slowly with the frog swim till you are ready for the lap swim . Water is the best way to go because it's very gentle on the muscles . Best wishes for a quick recovery. Oh and you need to go easy on the height of your heels , they definitely cause bad pressure on your joints .

Anonymous said...

Flex does Aquaarobics! I don't trust instructors in Kuwait majority don't even have proper qualifications have no idea what their doing, id ask for proof if i was you.Last thing you want is more injuries

Chirp said...

Salamat DG! I hope you feel better. There is a doctor in Abu Dhabi who I think specializes in back pain, I can get you his contact information if you want.
I think Alhamra's gym has aqua aerobics.
Man I really hope I dont shrink, I barely hit the 150 cm mark!

N. said...

I wish you a speedy recovery, there's nothing worse than back pain.

Champions has aqua aerobics. Spa Aquatonic has one-on-one personal training in the water, which is fantastic for targeted muscle strengthening and toning. Good luck.

Desert Girl said...

Thanks for the well-wishes everybody.

Anonymous said...

Why have you not considered going to a chiropractor? Well maybe because there isn't one in Kuwait? I go to a chiropractor in Dubai, Dr. Pamela Leader.
I also found it interesting to read some of these comments that basically warn you to stay clear of some of these 'quacks' in Kuwait. There is something euphoric about having your neck adjusted. There are many chiropractic clinics in Dubai, and some are American chiropractors. Another comment regarding your previous post about medications in Kuwait, I was just speaking to my pharmacist in Dubai about the amount of counterfeit drugs being sold in the Kuwait market. She was telling me that doctors and patients are flying in for the day and buying their medications in Dubai and returning to Kuwait. Something to think about when you see all the 'off brands' that you spoke about in your posting.

michelle hill said...

I hope your back is better by now. It is all about the core muscles..and gravity... I hate core work. Hate hate hate, but your back will thank you..and on the plus side, you will stand taller. Yoga yoga yoga. I hated yoga when I started., hate hate hate, but I swear by it for core and back...and, you will get back your lost height. Height loss is compression and yoga (or pilates ) stretches and brings blood and oxygen exactly to the places that need it. Your spine and whole body will feel amazing. Back pain sucks in a way you never get til you've experienced it. Wishing you lots of wellness with this.

Anonymous said...

Hilton has Aqua two mornings a week.

tom said...

Re: Al Seef hospital. It looks nice and clean, but the employees are no different than anywhere else.

A new company picked up our contract, and decided that we all needed to have hearing tests. They set up appointments for everyone to get the hearing tests done at Al Seef. I had an appointment at 1430, but because I am an early bird, I arrived at 1345. Another worker on the contract was there waiting for his 1400 appointment. we were talking for a few minutes when they called me in for my hearing test ahead of him. The reason being skipping him over was because he is a 20 year retired U.S. Navy veteran of Filipino descent. I said something, but he laughed and told me not to worry about it. Funny thing is, it was a Filipino and an Indian that skipped him over.

Re: International Clinic. The place is a joke, but is OK to use as a westerner for minor issues. Even for one day medical absence from work required medical documentation. MEH, a Doctors note if you have a bad case of the runs.

Fairly easy to get that done there, and the one Doctor most Americans used was Doctor Richard. We call him Dr. Dick because he is a pervert. Most cases, when it is your turn, he will ask you if you need to see him of if you just want a sick note.

I had a medical emergency, and went to Alia hospital in Mahboula because it was late on a Sunday night, and it was a new hospital close to my flat. After 2 days of a nightmare, I planned my escape and even called Dr Dick and asked what I should get from the hospital to bring to him. He asked if I wanted him to send an ambulance for me which I declined. After my CAT scan which I waited 2 days for insurance approval, I stormed out of the hospital screaming and cursing because of the horrible and unprofessional treatment, issues with the hospital, and even though it was a new hospital, numerous toilet seats were broken.

Anyway, when I got to see Dr. Dick, in between examining me, he was inquiring as to where he could get 'dirty movies'. Even though I was in a moderate amount of pain, I entertained his questions and clued him in about different types of proxy servers to get around government filtering.What a perve, I guess those pap smear training films get old after awhile. Once I got invited to his flat to drink wine, but I declined as I dont drink the stuff. Another co worker was there and Dr Dick started to massage his neck and shoulders. I think he was there for follow up treatment for a kidney stone. He forcibly removed his hands and told him he 'doesnt go that way'. LOL

Anyway, so much for the medical industry of Kuwait. Glad to be back in the US now.


May said...

I love dr Tareq AlSadiq he works at Aisha Alragom Physio center +965 25655444