A 59 year old woman who had surgery in February has had significant pain at her incision site and trouble lifting her arm all the way up without pain. Our patient navigator asked the surgeon about a referral to physical therapy, but the surgeon told the patient she did not need physical therapy and recommended wall exercises. The patient explained that it was burning and felt very tight, but the surgeon continued to say no to therapy and did not physically examine the sight on her back where she indicated having pain. As her bra was too tight, our patient navigator had scheduled her for a professional bra fitting. While there, she asked the nurse who does the fittings to look at her back.
As it turned out, the nurse found significant fluid buildup (lymphedema) in her back. Our patient navigator called her primary practitioner and requested a referral to PT/Lymphedema care. PT recommended she come three times a week (which means the condition was severe) but she couldn't afford the gas or time off work. After talking with her, we were able to schedule one long appointment a week first thing in the morning since she works in the afternoon one day a week. We also reimbursed her mileage to get to the appointment since she lives outside Tippecanoe County. Due to this intervention, the patient is doing much better and is almost completely off pain medication.