Some Recent Conversations With My Doctors
1. Where Needles Should Never Go
Me: in a totally awkward and embarrassing position, about to get stuck and sliced for a biopsy in a place where needles should never go
Doctor: “OK, we’re gonna give you the Novocaine shot now. But it’s such a small needle you won’t even feel it. It won’t hurt at all.”
Me: “I have fibromyalgia: everything hurts.”
My husband (looking over me towards the doctor): “Oh, yeah, it’s tiny.”
Me: “Oh really? THEN WHY DON’T WE STICK IT IN ONE OF YOUR TESTICLES?!”
Doctor (without missing a beat): “Well, I’ll have to get a new needle first, because we practice safe needle usage here.”
Me: shot up with Novocaine
Me (grudgingly): “OK, you were right. That was only a little stick.”
Doctor: “Hm? Oh, good. At least you didn’t call me a little prick.”
-biopsy came back fine
-WE LOVE THIS DOCTOR. WE ARE TOTALLY KEEPING HIM.
2. You’re On Too Many Medications
Last week I had to go see my Primary Care Physician because I thought I had an ear infection. I didn’t, but my ears were blocked, so I ended up having to get my ears washed out with something called “The Elephant”. Which was weird. And gross. And kind of painful.
But before that happened, I of course had to list all the medications I’m taking to make sure his records were complete. And it is quite an impressive list.
“You’re on so many things that it’s making this old man nervous,” he said.
“Yeah, I know,” I said, “It makes me nervous too. Do you have any suggestions for how I could get off of some of them?”
“Well,” he said thoughtfully, looking at his notes, “I’d just eliminate this column right here. And then we’d take you up to the mountains, and tie you to a bedpost. And then you’d clear your lungs right out with all your screaming. And then…”
And then he proceeded to describe a truly heinous process which I can only refer to as White Knuckle Detoxing.
“Um, yeah,” I said, when he was done. “I’m not doing that. Any other suggestions?
“Well,” he said, “they used to use insulin shock to cure this.” (I wasn’t aware that “this”-taking a bunch of meds-was something that needed to be “cured”.)
“That sounds horrible,” I said.
“It was horrible. And they ended up killing a lot of people that way. But it worked like magic.”
“Uh, yeah, right up until THE PART WHERE YOU ARE DEAD!” I replied.
“Well, they finally figured out that eventually they needed to shoot you full of some insulin to bring you out of the coma (COMA!)”
“OK, NOT DOING THAT EITHER!”, I informed him. “So leaving those aside, do you actually have any suggestions for how I could stop taking some of these medicines?”
“No, not really,” he admitted.
-This visit resulted in my declaring a new law in The Kingdom Of Jenny, namely that, Unless you have a specific suggestion that I can immediately try, you are not longer allowed to tell me that you think I’m on too many medications. Period.
3. You definitely have thrush.
A few months ago I had to go and see my sleep doctor for my 6-month checkup. I loathe and despise this appointment, because it takes 3 highways and 45 minutes to an hour to get there, and then I have to wait at LEAST another 30 minutes after my appointment time to see the doctor, AND he spends the entire 5-minute appointment entering crap on the computer, and then like 17 seconds actually looking at and examining me.
But this time I lucked out, and I got to see one of the Physician’s Assistants instead.
Everything was going just fine, until she looked down my throat and then asked, “Did you know that your tongue is completely white?”
“Yes”, I replied. “I’m pretty sure it’s because of all the medicines I’m taking. I think I’m probably dehydrated.”
“Mmm, maybe,” she said, unconvinced. “But it’s also possible that you have thrush.”
She wanted me to do some experiment or procedure or something to see if that actually was the case, but I had to go across the street to get to an appointment with my Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialist.
I was TOTALLY freaking out about the thrush thing though, because the treatment for that is antitibiotics. And ever since I was taken over by The Hostile Alien Intestinal Bacteria four years ago, I have totally become Nancy Reagan when it comes to antibiotics, in that I JUST SAY NO.
So at the end of my appointment with her, I told her all about my previous appointment, trying to get some reassurance that I really didn’t have a Thing That Was Going To Require Me To Take Antibiotics.
She said, “Well, thrush isn’t something I treat in my practice, but let me see.”
So I stuck out my tongue.
And she said, “Oh yeah-that’s definitely thrush.”
Now as it happens, my Primary Care Physician is just down the street from those two offices, and I was able to get worked into his schedule that afternoon.
So I explained the situation to him, including and ESPECIALLY my fear of antibiotics and their effects. And he told me to open my mouth, took one look at my tongue, and said, “That’s not thrush. The cure for that is for you to eat more salads. Or take your toothbrush and scrape your tongue.”
And so I spent half of a day freaking out and in tears for nothing.
-Yay for getting myself checked out!
-Yay for no thrush, and no antibiotics.
-However: this day led to the institution of yet another policy in The Kingdom Of Jenny, wherein I, as the sovereign ruler, declare that, unless you specifically treat a specific condition in your specific practice, you are not allowed to scare me by telling me that, oh by the way, you have this condition.
My next two stories are about chiropractors. I have a great chiropractor. I’ve been going to him for a few years, he knows what my issues are and how I need to be adjusted, and so I am in, out, and feeling better in no time. Unfortunately he does not work very many days per week, so of course I am always having chiropractic emergencies on days when he is gone. So these are the stories of two experiences I had last year with some “emergency” chiropractors. They did not go well.
4. No it didn’t.
Last year between Christmas and New Year I had a lot of things decide to pop out of joint. And my regular chiropractor wasn’t around very much during the holidays, so we found another doctor close by who was. I was so, SO glad to be able to get some relief, and so I was very much predisposed to like this guy. And at first, I did.
He was friendly, cheerful, and eager to help me get some relief. And so everything was going just fine until he asked me if I’d ever had an Ionic Foot Detox. Which I have, because I am open to trying just about anything that isn’t another drug and doesn’t harm me. But unfortunately, just like acupuncture, it just made my pain worse. And so I told him that. And he said,
“No, it didn’t. It did not make your pain worse. It doesn’t do that.”
And I said, “Uh, yeah, IT DID.”
And he said, “No it didn’t. If your pain got worse it was because of something else, not because of the Foot Detox.”
As you can probably imagine, things kind of went downhill from there. Because I don’t think there is anything in this world that enrages me more than when someone says to me, “Oh, no-you didn’t feel that. You didn’t think that. That’s not what happened to you,” attempting a Giant Mind-Fuck by trying to convince me that my experience wasn’t actually real. NEVER DO THIS TO ME. Because seriously, I will come after you with my sledgehammer.
But I knew I was not going to change his mind, so instead I changed the subject. And then he made his second fatal mistake: BEING WRONG. And not just wrong, but CONDESCENDING and wrong. With a little #2 (you shouldn’t be taking all those medications), and #3 (acting like an expert in a subject about which you actually know nothing) thrown in for good measure. I mean, it’s one thing if I, the patient, know more than you, the doctor, since I am the one who is living with this stupid illness. But it’s something else entirely when you are wrong, but act like you are The World’s Greatest Expert, and I am just a poor, confused woman who doesn’t really understand what’s going on, and who needs you, the expert, to talk her through it slowly and condescendingly. As in:
“So, what is fibromyalgia?’ he asked rhetorically. “It’s inflammation (WRONG! SO MUCH WRONGNESS OF BEING WRONG!). And how do we treat inflammation? By cutting out carbs, and taking fish oil.”
Oh my god! If only I had known-all I had to do was go on Atkins and take a handful of supplements! I can’t believe I’ve been stupidly trying things like, oh, GOING TO A SPECIALIST. And TAKING MEDICINES SPECIFICALLY APPROVED FOR TREATING FIBROMYALGIA. Thank you so much for showing me the error of my ways!
-You are a moron.
-Stay the hell away from me.
-I hope that one day, someone punches the crap out of you. And I don’t feel at all bad about admitting that.
5. How do you know?
This final story took place on a day when my hip had frozen up so badly that I could neither sit, stand, or lay down. I was in agony. Which meant that I REALLY needed help. Unfortunately this also meant that I was kind of vulnerable, because I potentially had to take whatever this doctor might dole out in order to get the pain relief I needed. And as it turned out, what he had to give was kind of brutal.
I had such high hopes for the visit, because this doctor had come highly recommended by someone whom I trust. So I sat down in the exam room, took a deep breath, and started to give a condensed version of my medical history. Since it is pretty much my main “complaint” these days, I started off with, “Well, I have fibromyalgia.” And he replied, in the most condescending voice you could ever imagine,
“Well-how do you know?”
And I was absolutely dumbfounded. I can’t remember what I said, but I sure as hell was thinking, “Uh-BECAUSE I LIVE IN THIS BODY?!” But I couldn’t say that, because I needed his help to feel better. So I just had to suck it up and say something placating and non-committal.
That pretty much set the tone for the whole visit. He just pushed back on and “corrected” everything I said. Even down to the conversation we had about my regular chiropractor. As in, “I see Dr. Brad at his office in Sugarloaf.” “Hm-don’t you really mean Dr. Brian in Johns Creek?” (Um, NO I DON’T.) Just constantly trying to Make Me Wrong.
He did get my hip to unfreeze, so that was something. But then as his parting shot, after he’d know me for approximately seven and a half minutes, he took all the medical information I’d entrusted to him and then turned it back around on me like a weapon, saying, “Well, my advice to you is to get off of all these medications, and then to just “beat those conditions one by one.” (Because, oh yes-I’d forgotten that I have the power to WILL MY THYROID INTO FUNCTIONING CORRECTLY, thanks so much for reminding me.)
-That REALLY sucked.
-Doctors should not be able to treat patients like that just because they are doctors.
-Patients should not have to accept that kind of treatment because they’re scared that if they speak up and stand up for themselves, then they will be denied the relief that they need.
-Not really sure what I can do about this right now, but at least I have planted the seed.