The case against ultrasound for injuries
Injuries are common and they usually require medical attention. However, there are some cases when it would be better to avoid unnecessary surgery or invasive procedures altogether. For example, if you have a broken bone and your doctor thinks that the best way to fix it is with screws instead of using a cast, then he/she probably shouldn’t remove the cast because doing so might cause further damage to your body.
There are other examples too: If you have a sprained ankle and your doctor says that you need to rest it for two weeks before getting back into activity, then he/she probably shouldn’t do anything else except resting it until the swelling goes down. You don’t want to risk damaging your ankle even more by overdoing something like running or jumping around too much.
These are all good reasons why you shouldn’t undergo any kind of surgical procedure without first consulting a specialist. However, sometimes doctors make mistakes. Sometimes they get things wrong (and I’m not just talking about orthopedists). Sometimes their recommendations aren’t very helpful at all. And sometimes patients end up having to go through painful operations because the doctors didn’t listen to what was going on inside them and were making decisions based on outdated information or bad advice from other specialists.
Why make things worse?
When I first found out that doctors wanted to do more tests on my son’s heart, I didn’t know what to expect. As worried as I was about the results, I was also worried about what might happen if something did go wrong during the tests. Sure, they could stop it in time and everything would be fine, but if things went really bad nobody would be able to help us. And if that did happen, I didn’t even want to think about how my son would feel about going through this whole thing again in the future.
I decided not to think any more about all this and just focus on the fact that my son finally had a formal diagnosis and we could start looking into what was causing all these problems. At least now we had somewhere to start and some idea of what we were dealing with.
I’ve read some stories about children who have undergone open heart surgery to correct some of the problems that they had at birth. Each story is different, but they all say the same thing: It changed their lives for the better. They’re able to go out and do more things because their energy isn’t being sapped by a faulty organ that doesn’t pump blood to their body like it’s supposed to. If my son felt even a little bit better after the surgery, then it would be a success.
A new beginning
As time passed, I couldn’t help but get excited about the fact that a solution to this problem might very well be right around the corner. After all the tests had been completed and we finally got the official word from his doctors, we knew what was causing all of his problems. The surgery was risky, but the doctors said that it would help alleviate the stress that his heart had to work against all the time. It was just a matter of scheduling it for a time when he wouldn’t have to miss too much school (he’s in middle school and misses school often enough as it is).
Surgery day finally arrived and after a pre-operation consultation with one of his surgeons, my son was ready. I was a nervous wreck, but there was nothing more I could do other than to wait. After waiting in the pre-operation room, his surgeon came back with good news: The operation had been a success!
Now it’s just a matter of recovery and making sure he doesn’t get himself into too much trouble over the next few weeks while he’s stuck at home. It’ll be a challenge, but my wife and I will be there to enforce the rules. I know that things will be different after this, but I don’t know how. What matters right now is that my son will finally be getting the help he needs and we can all have a better quality of life because of it.
When you’ve been through something as traumatic as open heart surgery, it can be very easy to fall into a depression afterwards. My son was no different. For the next few weeks, he spent a lot of time sleeping and doing anything that didn’t require much movement. It’s like his body needed time to recover, but his mind just shut down.
I didn’t know how to react at first. I just tried to set down some ground rules about what was acceptable behavior and what wasn’t. Most of that involved making sure he still kept up on his schoolwork. If he failed to meet certain grade level standards, then he would have to attend summer school. Fortunately, he was smart enough to know that he’d better do his work, but I could tell that he was no longer interested in it.
I tried to be as supportive as possible during this time. I told him that it was normal to feel depressed after something like this and that there was nothing wrong with it. I just wanted him to come out of his shell eventually. Meanwhile, I would check up on him periodically when I came back home from work. He would always say hi, but then return to his shell after giving me a brief rundown of what he had done that day.
After about a month of this behavior, he finally started coming out of it naturally. He still wasn’t quite his old self, but at least he was showing more enthusiasm for stuff again. He even managed to bring a girl home that he had a crush on. Of course, he ended up kicking her out when she failed to meet his standards after she failed to properly answer a question about the biology homework they were assigned.
I didn’t know whether to be happy that he was more like his old self or scared that he was more like his old self.
In any case, I figured things were back to “normal” again…until I received another letter from his school. It stated that his grades had fallen below acceptable levels and if he did not return to performing at his previous levels, he would be held back after the current year. Needless to say, I was livid when I read that.
Not at him, but at the situation.
It was bad enough that he had to go through an operation, now this?
He didn’t tell me that his grades had been slipping, but then we hadn’t really been talking much anyway. Nevertheless, I had to do something about this.
I set up a meeting with his teachers and the principal to see what the problem was. They all said that he was doing fine on homework and tests, but he wasn’t participating in class at all. They said he would just sit in the back of the room by himself and stare into space. When they would call on him to answer questions, he would just stare at them in silence. They had already spoken to him about this and warned him that if he continued to do this, they would hold him back.
I told them that I was aware of his medical condition and that he was on medication for it, but this didn’t seem to change their views. They said that they didn’t believe that would be a factor since other students with similar conditions were able to perform to their standards. The only logical conclusion was that he was either being defiant or just lazy.
I got very angry at that and the principal told me to leave unless I was going to start causing a scene, at which point, I did just that. I started demanding to know why they were trying to hold my son back when he had already overcome so much. I don’t think they took me very seriously though since they just had me kicked out of the school.
As I was leaving, I shouted that I was going to sue them for discrimination. This eventually got me arrested and it was only by sheer luck that I wasn’t charged with anything. It was there that I ran into a lawyer who specialized in such cases. He was actually the one who informed me about my rights as a parent in situations like these.
Turns out that it’s illegal to hold a student back if it’s due to reasons not pertaining to their academic performance or behavior. After a few months, we managed to get the school system to let him back in after they had held him back a year. It was quite an eventful year since he turned into a rebel and got involved with a bad crowd at school. It took a long time for him to adjust to his new class, but he pulled through.
Once he was old enough, I let him stay at my place while he finished up the rest of his classes so that he wouldn’t have to deal with all those people anymore. He managed to get his diploma a year later and got a job as well. I would have liked him to continue his education, but I suppose working at the gas station was better than him not having a job at all.
As for my lawsuit, I only managed to get a settlement out of the school after several appeals and threats of going to the media. It wasn’t a large amount, but it was enough for me to move away and start again somewhere else. After saying goodbye to my son, I left for pastures new.
I’m working at a diner in another state now and I’ll just have to wait and see how this all pans out. I haven’t heard anything from my ex since the last time she called me a lowlife for taking her to court in the first place. She’s probably kicking herself in the rear for missing out on the settlement. Oh well, more money for me.
I sometimes wonder what my son is doing, but I’m sure that he’s doing fine. He didn’t need his dad around holding him back. Sometimes you just need to be tough and make sacrifices for the people you love.
I really hope he knows I did it all for him…
Sources & references used in this article:
Ultrasound therapy in musculoskeletal disorders: a meta-analysis by AN Gam, F Johannsen – Pain, 1995 – Elsevier
The relative effectiveness of periosteal pecking combined with therapeutic ultrasound compared to therapeutic ultrasound in the treatment of medial tibial stress … by ME Robertson – 2003 – openscholar.dut.ac.za
Bedside ultrasound evaluation of tendon injuries by TS Wu, PJ Roque, J Green, D Drachman… – The American journal of …, 2012 – Elsevier