Being in the medical profession myself, as an occupational therapist, I self-diagnosed myself with bilateral cubital tunnel syndrome about one year ago. My family doctor said I was too young for this. I was 27.
Great, I thought, that’s never something you want to hear. I ignored the symptoms in my right arm, but couldn’t help but think that the left elbow needed to be fixed soon. The pinched nerve in my left elbow was causing me to wake up several times a night with shooting pain and numbness. I’d move sides and soon the right arm would act up.
I kept ignoring the issue and pretended I was “normal.” I modified my activities, as a good OT knew to do. I wore a few elbow splints, but let’s be honest, sleeping with elbow splints to straighten your elbows on both elbow joints is not good for quality of life. I felt pretty desperate, not knowing how this process would end.
I asked a therapist friend of mine who I should go to see to fix these issues. Without hesitation, he said “Dr. (Mark) Cohen is one of the best.” I did my own research and realized he’s truly a brilliant surgeon. My first few visits were brief, as he kept telling me it was my decision, dependent on quality of life, as to when to schedule a surgery. A surgery … hmmm. I had rehabilitated several patients, as an OT, who had similar conditions. I was never on this side before and I didn’t like it.
Luckily, the Surgicenter at Rush took a lot of fear out of the process for me. I had never been hospitalized. I frankly got queasy during all of my clinical rotations in hospital settings. I didn’t know how this would turn out. The nurse that called a few days before the surgeries was always super nice and helpful. The receptionist was also very sweet. My nurses Dave and Renata were awesome. I had no complications. I dealt with life in a cast. And I moved on … to another two surgeries on my left arm (carpal tunnel as well). And then I really moved on.
I’m happy to say that I had my last follow-up appointment with Dr. Cohen a few weeks ago. He was pleased with my recovery and I am definitely feeling 95 percent. I never thought I had the strength to go through three surgeries within two months time, but I did with the help of the amazing care of the Rush Surgicenter, Dr. Cohen, and Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush. When I asked Dr. Cohen why I had these issues, he seemed to think it was just bad luck. However, I feel very lucky to have experienced such wonderful care and I am forever grateful to all of you who make a difference in your patients’ quality of life.
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