December 11, 2009

dear friends and horrible doctors

November 18, 2009 11:15pm

Well, here I am again. I left work at 10:30pm because, although we now have plenty of parts, all of one particular part is bad. So now I’m stuck at home, wide awake in the middle of the night, waiting to be tired enough to go to sleep.

On the way home, I was sort of excited at the prospect of seeing Cody. I know that a lot of days he tends to stay up till about 11pm or so, so I just assumed he would still be awake. No such luck. I haven’t seen him since yesterday afternoon, so I’m missing him a lot. He worked at the food bank today, and I had an appointment with Pastor before work, so we didn’t get a chance to see or talk to each other. I tried to call him on the way to work this afternoon, but he didn’t get the call. I know he goes to the gym on Thursdays, but I’m hoping he doesn’t have anything else planned for the afternoon so that I can spend a little bit of time with him.

I forgot to mention the other day that I had quite a nice conversation with Bethany on Sunday afternoon. She called me before Cody got home; while I was just sitting down to do a little reading. Apparently, when you fall off the face of the internet, people start to miss you a little. She was just calling to check up on me, but it really did make my day. I haven’t been in contact with very many people outside of work since starting this sabbatical, so it was nice to hear from someone I care about.

We talked for what seemed like a long time, though I don’t remember now how long it really was. She was telling me about her morning serving with her outreach group from church at a local nursing home, and how her nephew reacted to being around all of the older and often sick people. She then went on to tell me about the guest speaker they had in church, and some of the things he talked about. She shared some of his insight concerning people’s tendency to justify their own “righteous indignation” by pointing to Jesus’ anger in the bible.

I then got the chance to talk to her about what has been going on in my own life as of late, including how the sabbatical is going, and what I’m trying to accomplish and how. She never ceases to amaze me with her ability to get me to open up and share the real stuff that I usually keep back from everyone else. Talk about a good listener. I was able to tell her about not only my experience with the urologist, but also all the crap that led up to my going to see him in the first place. It’s kind of awkward, but worth trying to tell. I want to remember these events in order to avoid similar situations in the future.

I went to the doctor about 2-3 months ago with a whole list of issues I wanted to address. Some of these problems had been going on for quite some time and needed to be taken care of, but the straw that broke the camel’s proverbial back was the aggravation of dealing with the pressure in my ears. I had felt it on and off since at least August, and I was tired of it. I’m not one for doctors, but when the pressure in my ears started affecting my ability to sing in church on Sunday mornings, I decided enough was enough.

When I got in to see the doctor, we spent a lot of time going over my mental health history, and very little time focusing on the issues I went there for originally. It’s kind of a convoluted story, but basically the doctor recognized me when she walked in, though she couldn’t really tell why. I explained that I had been a patient of hers previously when she worked for the HMO that I used to use. She had left, and when I changed insurance companies, I had discovered that she was in my network again. Being shy about trying out new doctors and all, I decided to go see her, since I had felt comfortable with her the few times I had seen her before.

Well, she used our past history as a starting off point and asked me to refresh her memory as to what was going on the last time I saw her. So I went into the whole long story about the weight loss and stomach problems that she had sent me for some testing about. In the long run, it was decided that those symptoms were all related to the mental health crap that was coming to a head at the same time. So now that the whole depression/anxiety cat is out of the bag, that is ALL she would talk about. She wants me to see a shrink, she wants to prescribe me meds, etc. I was not a happy camper. I tried to explain to her that I was getting counseling from my Pastor, and we were working toward the goal of finding a good psychiatrist whom I would then discuss the possibility of meds with.

So, after I finally get her to back down a bit, she starts talking about referring me to a psychiatrist and then setting up an appointment for a physical in about three weeks. I’m like, “Wait a minute. I have a whole list of reasons why I came here today, and we haven’t discussed any of them.” She got a bit aggravated, but I didn’t care. I made the appointment to talk about specific issues, and she took the crazy ball and ran with it all on her own. I still needed to talk about all the other stuff!

So I went down the list (I literally had an index card with me), and told her what was bugging me. I mentioned the ears, the muscle cramps in my legs, going to the bathroom constantly and an all over itch with no rash or visible irritation.

She checked my ears and told me they looked fine, and then told me that my cramps were probably caused by a vitamin D deficiency. She decided to check for infection in my urinary tract, but also a screening for diabetes as well, which she checked with blood tests that she ordered for the vitamin D thing. The itching though… Oh, she was concerned about that. Turns out an unexplained itch can be a sign of lymphoma. She might have to run some tests to get to the bottom of that.

What, was I too callous with mentioning lymphoma? Well, that’s just how matter-of-fact she stated it to me, so I just assumed it was okay to be blunt with this information.

She sent me next door for the lab work and instructions to come back in two weeks. I got a call later that day telling me my urine was okay, and about two days later I got a voicemail telling me my blood work was okay as well. The only problem is, I still wasn’t sure what all she was testing for that came back okay. I had no idea if a blood test would reveal an indicator for lymphoma.

So, I go back two weeks later and she’s all pissed off because I didn’t call the shrink she suggested. I told her the urination was getting worse, so she decided to check me for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Not too thrilled about that, since I knew I would be clean, but I’m sure doctors hear that a lot.

The ears are still bugging me. Well, the ear drums look fine.

The cramping? The itching? I think it’s your anxieties. You need to see a psychiatrist.

I was livid. By the time I got home, I was so ramped up I couldn’t talk about it. Cody was naturally concerned, though I still hadn’t told him about the lymphoma thing. After about half an hour, I was finally able to talk about it, and I told Cody, “She thinks I’m a crazy whore.”

Basically, my problems are caused by my mental issues and an STD. Two weeks ago, she was scaring me with cancer, and now she’s telling me it’s all psychosomatic. Great.

Cody and I didn’t really get a chance to talk much more, as his mom came over for dinner shortly after that. Later that night is when I got the call from my mom that my cousin was in an accident and would likely not make it. Not a very good day for me.

After talking about all of this with Pastor (whom I did tell about the possibility of lymphoma) and Cody, we decided to take a little more control of the situation. Pastor and I worked out a plan that I would make an appointment with a urologist as soon as I got home from our conference, and he suggested I call Cody on my way home to tell him of my intention so he could hold me to the decision. The two of them working in tandem is remarkable at times, I have to say.

Now that that was out of the way, I needed to see another general practitioner to get a second opinion on all the other crap. I found a doctor who could get me in on my day off, and it was off to the races.

This doctor actually listened! I took copies of all my labs from the other doctor, and he allowed me to go over the whole story of what had transpired up to that point. He asked a ton of questions and took the most extensive family history of anyone I’ve seen to date, and then it was down to business.

For the ears, he suggested a nasal spray, of which he gave me a sample. Unfortunately, the spray didn’t really work, so we’re sort of back to the drawing board on that one.

For the cramping, he suggested calcium and drinking milk. The calcium seems to be helping a lot, but the milk is touch and go, as it appears I may be lactose intolerant.

Now for the part where Jake eats a big old slice of humble pie. This doctor looked me square in the eye and asked if I had been diagnosed as bipolar. Wow. That was a wake up call. He then told me a big long story about a patient of his who was in a similar situation and how Zoloft had really helped him. *gulp*

He asked if I had ever tried a “rescue drug” for my anxieties, such as Xanax, which kind of caught me off guard. I didn’t know such a class of drug existed. I was intrigued. I tried to talk him out of the Zoloft, but eventually just gave in and decided it wasn’t worth fighting over. I would let him write it and just throw it away when I got home.

Well, when I finally did get home, Cody and I had to sit down and have a nice long talk. I filled him in on absolutely everything, including the lymphoma scare, and told him what the new doctor had said. I could tell Cody really wanted to push for the Zoloft, but I was firm in my refusal. I told him that the Xanax was worth a try to at least help with the worst of my anxiety attacks, but the Zoloft was not yet an option.

Well, that very weekend, Cody and I had a rougher time relationship-wise than we have had in quite some time. We hadn’t been getting along very well to begin with, and this particular weekend was pretty bad. By Sunday night, I knew something had to give and I was pretty sure Cody felt the same way I did. So by the time I got home from work on Monday, I had decided to give the Zoloft a chance in order to give us a chance. I knew that I had to do something in order to help us work through our issues together, and I have been back on meds ever since.

Yeah, me. The one who was never ever going to take meds again. *sigh*

On a positive note after all of that, it has been a few weeks since I started the meds, and Cody and Pastor both seem to think there has been some improvement. I’m probably always going to be at least somewhat skeptical, but I know that my relationship with Cody has improved at least. And the Xanax really does seem to help. It could be the placebo affect for all I know, but whatever it is, it’s working.

I don’t know how long I’ll be on this or any other medication, but right now I’m trying not to think about it. I’m setting small goals for myself, and for right now that seems to be enough.


It’s at times like this that I really wish I still smoked in my office.

Whenever I don’t have the ability to sit down and write in this journal, I wish that I could and think of all the things that I want to write about. Now that I actually have the time though, I’m totally stumped. It’s not even 1am yet, but I’m starting to get at least a little tired (maybe it was the beer). I think I’ll go read for a few minutes and then go lay down. Even if I don’t sleep, at least I can cuddle up next to Cody and be warm.

2 comments:

Pete said...

Xanax is not a placebo, take it from someone who speaks from experience.

There are some days that it's the only way I can get through the day without either crying from frustration or killing someone for the same reason.

I can't speak for the other drugs, or for how you feel on them because there must be a reason people on it try to keep getting off of it so I like the short term goal thing, one step at a time.

Anonymous said...

Jake,
I'm so proud of you for conquering your fears of the doctors. That first chick doesn't deserve to be your doctor. You need someone that listens to you and listens to everything. It sounds like she had preconceived notions which is never a good way to treat people!
As far as zoloft, it's usually a lifetime commitment if it works. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking medications to help you!
Just know I'm thinking about you lots!
Julie