When To Punch Your Doctor In the Face

from Google images
from Google images

For the past month, I’ve had some weird tingling and burning sensation on my right side.  Seeing how I have a few health problems like Crohn’s (an autoimmune disease) and circulatory problems, I thought that it was time to get it checked out so I made an appointment with my doctor.

Skip ahead to this past Monday.  I went in expecting to get a chance to tell him all the nuances I’ve noticed in my body that I feel are connected to these weird flare-ups.  I am not in the medical profession (I couldn’t handle seeing someone’s insides or have to deal with all the years of medical school and loans), but I consider myself to be somewhat intuitive with my body.  After practicing yoga for 10 years, I feel like I am at a point in my practice when I am open to listening to my body and pushing it to bend and twist in certain ways while also acknowledging its limitations.  I try to eat healthy (with Crohn’s that’s a must in my book) and I try to stay active (so I don’t suffer clots from my Leiden Factor 5 genetic issue or my heart murmur).  So, when I described that the tingling and burning were on my cheek, my arm and my thigh and that I noticed they’re most prevalent when I’m under stress or sleeping on my right side, he immediately said, “This seems to be stress-related.”  I told him that around those areas I also have a sensation of pinched nerves and that when I press on trigger points those sensations go away.  He immediately disregarded what I said and told me that there is no one nerve that connects all the way up and down the side of the body.  I asked him if it could be cardiovascular and he told me that I’m too young to be in the range of having a stroke.  I asked if it could be circulatory because I notice that in those spots my skin is cold, and he told me it is neurological or maybe, just maybe, he said it’s “psycho-somatic.”  Code for I’m imagining things.

He then threw out the deadly phrase “systemic MS” but “poo-pooed” it because he told me that he would like to see a lot more symptoms pop up before even suggesting I go see a neurologist.  To cover his butt, however, he had me do a series of balance and motor skill tests.  Then, he told me that I passed with flying colors.  “Ok,” I said, “Now what?”

“What do you mean, ‘Now what’?  Stress can do a lot to our bodies.  You said you were under a lot of stress, right?”

“Well, yeah.  I have been worrying about paying a double mortgage and have been trying really hard to get my old house to sell.  I am having some money issues because of that.  I’ve had close ones in my family who are going through serious health issues and I am trying to get ready for teaching new classes this year.  But still.  This feeling is just so weird.  I’ve never experienced anything like it, and I’ve dealt with a lot of stress in my life.  My nephew had a bone marrow transplant 2 years ago.  That was extremely stressful.  Wouldn’t this problem have occurred back then as well?”

He had no reply.  None.  Zip.  So, I mentioned my Crohn’s and said that I know that sometimes patients have a hard time absorbing vitamin B12 which can cause neurological issues.  “Could it be that?” I asked.

He jumped in and said, “Yes, well, that was my next step.  We’ll get an order for you to have a blood draw and we’ll go from there.  Call me if the problem persists,” and he shook my hand and told me the nurse would come back with my paperwork.  When she did, the reason for the blood draw said “Anxiety.”

I left feeling defeated.  I should’ve punched him in the face.

***

Tuesday morning came and I got 3 vials of blood drawn and a big bruise to show for it.  No phone call with the results the following day, so when I had a stronger tingling and burning sensation in those places late in the evening, this time with tingling in my feet and a sensation like I had popped a thousand blood vessels, I called the doctor’s exchange.  The doctor on call got aggressive with me and told me he couldn’t do anything about it over the phone and I better get myself to the ER.

His tone of voice made me want to punch him in the face.

****

One of my best friends was with me and she spent the four hours with me in the ER.  She left my side later that night to go to my house and walk my dog.  While she was gone, I was tired and thirsty so I pushed the call button to see if a nurse could bring me in some ice water.  (It also should be noted that I sat back there for almost 2 hours prior to this with no nurse or orderly coming in to check on me.)  My curtain had a gap in it and my door was open, so I could see a night nurse in front of me.  She picked up the microphone and said, “Can I help you?” but the speaker in my room wasn’t working.  She was maybe 10 feet away from me, so I simply waved at her and said, “May I have a glass of ice water, please?”  She pointed at my speaker and mimed that I should pick it up.  I did and told her in a louder voice, “It’s not working?”  She said from her desk so I could hear her, “Try it again.”  I put the speaker up to my mouth, pressed the button and loudly said, “It’s not working!”  She rolled her eyes, and defeatedly asked, “What do you need?”  I gave her my request and she barked to an orderly, “Can you go see what she needs?”

I wanted to punch her in the face.

****

After meeting with the ER doc for 5 mins and giving him a synopsis of what’s going on, he ordered a CT Scan of my brain and said they should have my blood work results in about an hour.  My nurse finally came in and saw that I wasn’t wearing a hospital gown.  He gave me one and he handed me a pee cup and told me to go to the bathroom and pee.  I did as ordered and came back and put the ugly gown on.

About 2 hours post CT Scan and blood draws that left another bruise on my left arm, the doctor came back in and said, “Well, I have good news.  Your CT Scan showed nothing and your blood work came back excellent.  Everything looks great, but I think your problem is neurological.  I think you have MS.”

I immediately retreated into myself.  “What is going on?” is all I could think.  I pulled back up from a drowning sensation in my mind and I heard him talking to my friend saying that he recommends a great neurologist and that he will do a MRI and can see the MS problem right there.  I asked him, “Is this debilitating?  Are you sure?  Can you diagnose this without further tests?”  It was the best I could muster seeing how I felt like I had been punched in the face with his words.

He bested me and said, “Oh, a MRI will show more than what a CT Scan can.  But your symptoms are MS symptoms.”

I got scared and asked, “Can this be debilitating?  Is it urgent that I get this taken care of right away?”

He then replied, “Oh, some people can go their whole lives with minor symptoms like you have, while others can become very debilitated and wind up in the nursing home.  It’s a very debilitating and unpredictable disease, for sure.”  He then handed me the paperwork and told me the doctor’s name and excused himself and said, “Good luck,” and walked out the door.

I was left with my friend holding me as I cried and imagined that I would be alone, curled in a fetal position, drooling and living in a nursing home before I was 40 years old.

I should’ve punched him in the face.

****

I’ve had a few days to think about what happened in the course of less than one week.  I’ve not ruled out going to see the neurologist, in fact I scheduled an appointment for next month.  I found out that my B12 levels are fine as well, so it’s plausible that my Crohn’s is not a cause of what’s going on.  And that’s the thing, I just wanted to have an opportunity to talk to my doctor and have him listen to me before sending me into a tizzy about what was happening with my body.  After all, I am the one experiencing all of this and notice all the nuances and factors that are bringing these sensations about.  Now, after seeing him and having my traumatic experience in the ER, I sit and worry about whether me forgetting my friend’s friend’s name in a story we were sharing is a symptom of MS.  Or, if me feeling a little woozy and nauseous today is a sign of MS (turns out it is more likely a sign of a scone and coffee not being a substantial breakfast).  Or, when I bump into something while I’m thinking about all I have to do that day is a sign of MS.

I’ve gone through a range of emotions these past few days and talked to my friend who has had a definitive diagnosis of MS.  She told me that during her journey to getting diagnosed she learned that doctors liked to use MS as an umbrella term for any neurological issue they can’t explain right away.  She did reassure me that if in fact I do learn that I truly have MS that I can lead a full, happy and normal life and manage it just like I manage my Crohn’s.  She encouraged me to keep a positive attitude and to call her at any time.

I didn’t want to punch her in the face.  If I could’ve jumped through the phone, I would’ve hugged her.

Where I stand now on this issue is that I want to go deeper in my yoga practice and work on meditation and doing poses that make me feel strong, grounded and stretched out and pain free.  I do notice that when I am calm, the burning sensations go away.  I also know that I want to listen to my body more and explore Ayurveda medicine which looks at your body, mind and spirit as being part of a big system, and work in conjunction with Western medicine, which breaks the whole into smaller parts.  I booked a massage with the best massage therapist I’ve ever been to and explained to her what’s going on with me.  She is working on putting together a session that will address those issues.  So, I’m good.  I will honor my body and do what I feel is best for it.

True, glitches in our physical bodies are out of our control and sometimes we need medical treatment to heal, manage, or eliminate them.  Our mental attitudes on how we approach the treatments and the medical process are not out of our control.  From now on, I’m not going to let doctors bully me, ignore me, or see my body as just car parts.  I sometimes think we forget in this society that we’re paying for their services and they have an obligation to us to heal us, and part of healing is how they listen to us, speak to us, and honor our wishes and our bodies as well.  They don’t control our mental outlook on our bodies, our journeys in this world through our physical beings.  That’s for each and everyone of us to determine in this lifetime.

But, that philosophical platitude being said, If I see any one of those doctors on the street, I might just punch him in the face.

from Google images
from Google images

For those of you following my 100 Day Creative Writing Challenge, this is Day 33: Anger

 

Go for the “Gusto” in Life

There is a lot to be said about living a life full of zeal and soaking up the life that you’re given.  This past weekend, I was at Lake of the Ozarks (aka the “Redneck Riviera”) with my friend Mary and her 8 year old son Zane.  We stayed with her in-laws, Gary and Judy, at their home.  We took the train on Friday morning and by noon we were hopping off the train and being ushered in to Gary’s and Judy’s car in a whirlwind of excitement.  Omaw and PawPaw were happy to see their only grandchild and Mary and I were happy to have a weekend of friend time together.  She’s an artist and their house is under construction (her hubby stayed behind to deal with the construction) so she was in need of a place to get some “head space”.  I am a teacher and this weekend was my “calm before the storm” because school starts in less than 2 weeks.

The boat dock
The boat dock

Judy and Gary are very kind, charming people who are full of life and energy.  Judy is a retired middle school teacher and Gary is retired from owning his own company (and I later found out he was once in the Army as well).  Gary has Parkinson’s disease, but that doesn’t stop him from doing what he wants to do.  Although his body is misshapen from the disease and he has trouble getting around and is on a lot of medication, he still has this larger than life charisma and charm to him.  He gets out on his boat dock every day and can drive his speed boat and give you an hour long tour of the mansion laden lakeside (I dubbed the tour “The Great Gatsby on the Lake”).  He rides his jet ski, fishes with his grandson and grills a mean chicken, onion, pineapple kabob.  I was surprised by his agility this weekend when I asked him where I could find a plate for my toast.  I was standing behind him and he was near the cabinet.  Before I finished my sentence, he threw open the cabinet, grabbed  the heavy Fiesta-ware plate, lifted it with both hands behind his head and over to me.  I wasn’t expecting that at all and said, “Uh, thanks,” as he stood there laughing.

Judy is equally as charismatic and charming and as spry as someone half her age.  While Gary messed around on the boat or the jet ski, Judy was in her kayak (she kayaks every day) pulling Zane and a neighbor kid on a raft behind her.  She and Gary hung out on the boat dock with the kids for hours, zipping in and out of the kayaks, the jet ski, the floats and also scheduling a winter to Australia using their iPad.  Later that evening, they took the kids to play a round of 9 holes of golf and then out to dinner.  On the other hand, Mary and I were drained and had headaches and upset stomachs and fell asleep in our rooms for 2 hours after a fattening meal of potato skins and pizza.  Around 8:30, Judy, Gary & Zane came back home and got us up and going and we played Uno and chatted away as Judy led Gary through his yoga and stretching exercises for the night before they went to bed.  Mary, Zane and I again crashed into our beds and slept in late the next morning, unable to keep up with the 2 of them.

In our youth obsessed culture, we tend to overlook people who have lived longer than us have more experience and (hopefully) more wisdom, guidance and interesting stories to share.  We don’t expect people who are in the winter season of their lives to have so much excitement and enthusiasm for their lives.  We get so wrapped up in the petty dramas of daily life and try to control their outcomes that we forget there should always be a space in our lives to play and to explore and to travel and to laugh.  I think these positive behaviors are a benefit of aging that for whatever reason we are afraid to look into as a culture because we don’t want to think of the final outcome of our physical bodies.  Judy’s and Gary’s intensity may seem overwhelming, and maybe to some out there it is, but for whatever reason this weekend their zeal for entertaining us while also letting us go on 2 hour long walks or reading books or taking us on a tour of the countryside really grounded me.  I’ve had a full but hectic summer and there are things that are stressing me out like a tight budget, trying to sell my old house and preparing for school to name a few.  But now, I’m reenergized by their energy and sense of play.

But for me personally, too much zeal can be an overkill, and I’m one who appreciates a little bit of solitude on a regular basis.  So, it was nice when I had a “zen” moment where I got a little bit of alone time to read and to write while the rest of them went on a bike ride.  I sat in the sun and listened to the waves break on the shoreline.  It felt like I had a moment to hit the “pause button” and allow in the ebb to the flow of that vital energy.

The Lake
The Lake

And just when I was “ebbing,” the flow came back in the form of Mary and Zane coming up to me with a 1970s Cher cover album.  They were laughing and asking me if I could hear the music blaring from the garage into the street.  Zane smiled and said, “C’mon, Megan, you gotta hear it!” and I started laughing and obediently followed.  Sure enough, Cher was singing away, her voice being pumped out of a circa 1980s record player with a dual cassette player underneath.  Old records from Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall,” to Henry Mancini were stacked on a shelf.  Mary shrugged her shoulder and laughed and said that this is what her in-laws do whenever the moment feels right.  Judy and Gary were nowhere in sight and Zane switched the LP to fast track and Cher’s smooth, alto voice morphed into Alvin and the Chipmunks.  Our laughter filled the garage and Z switched it back to normal play and then he and Mary hopped on their bikes and took off down the long drive while I was left behind wondering what had just happened.  How did getting left behind in a garage listening to 1970s Cher songs and smiling become part of my weekend?

And the Beat Goes On. . .
And the Beat Goes On. . .

Even in the mundane moments of life zest and zeal can enter in at an unexpected time, making you laugh and appreciate right where you are.

On the suspension bridge out in the country
On the suspension bridge out in the country

This post is Day 27 in the 100 Day Creative Writing Challenge.  Topic:  Zeal.

Before All Else

This is a great post to give you a little more clarity on how to keep the faith.

Insanity

BeforeAllElse“Faith goes before; understanding follows after.” A great theologian believed this, and so do I. Believing after the fact is simple. Believing before the manifestation has presented itself, is not. And yet, faith requires such.

You are the artist of your own life’s portrait, I believe. I also believe each of us has more power than we know; more power than even Saint Augustine knew 15,000 years ago when he made that statement. To me life is a combination effort. At times I have waited on God. At times God has waited on me. And when I choose not to take an active part in the creation of my life, things become stagnant. I become stagnant. The paint upon my canvas dries, and the picture stays incomplete.

Pick the size of your canvas. Choose the colors. Paint with wild abandon or with careful precision. Just paint. We don’t have to…

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