The D Word

Doctor. The mere mention of the word sends me into a panic-induced tail spin. Needless to say, I don't have the best track record with doctors. Not only does seeing one usually mean there's yet another thing wrong with me, but they frequently ain't all that nice to a girl with so many unexplainable health problems. See, I'm crazy and they can't help me, so we usually leave it at that. Which is absurdly ridiculous, seeing as crazy people get help all the time. But my unwillingness to concede that the pain in my body is caused by unhappiness in my head, well, that puts me into the category of "unhelp-able crazy," which has left me to figure out how to live with this illness all on my own. Hence the panic-induced tail spin I've adopted as my default whenever the D word is uttered. Did I mention I have a hard time going to the doctor?

But as it goes, yesterday I had to see a new doctor. So with no hope in my heart, no desperation, and asking for very little, I set out to present my long, sordid health history to yet one more medical professional. Because really, I just need to sleep. I can manage the rest of my symptoms with nutrition and exercise, but not if I can't bloody sleep. And since August I've been unable to obtain consistent sleep. 

It's been a while since I dragged out that binder of medical records and combed through it to create a concise medical history, but the day before my appointment that's precisely what I did. It took me eight hours. The surges of emotion I felt reading through every medical report, hospital discharge summary, and diagnostic result made me weep. Once I settled down, I marveled over how on earth I'm still standing, yet alone clinging to hope or faith in the future. At the end of the day I had a one page, concise, non-emotional summary of my myriad diagnoses and treatments for the past 16 years. It was, without a doubt, the best thing I ever could have done.

Because the reaction I got from my new doctor yesterday was staggering. Not only did he tell me how happy he was with my organization when I handed him the paper, he actually asked if he could take a moment to read it, and then proceeded to ask me questions about individual incidents! I almost fell off the exam-room table, thrilled he cared! But what came next shocked me to the core. He finished reading, put the page down with a smile, and explained what I've always known but nobody will admit: when many (not all) doctors hear the words "fibromyalgia" or "chronic fatigue syndrome" from a new patient, they immediately, without further consideration, place that patient into a "category." Never mind that those diagnoses were obtained from said doctor's colleagues, that patient will forever be taken less seriously. But what I did, when I handed him that medical history summary, was cut off any potential attitude at the pass. It told any doctor, unequivocally and without a doubt, what I have experienced is real, I take my health seriously, and am not to be dismissed as a drug-seeker. At that point, I think I did fall off the exam-room table. Clearly, the emotional upheaval and time I invested in creating that document were well worth the reward. Thank the good Lord in heaven.

The rest of the appointment went well. He informed me the meds I'm taking to sleep are not suitable for sleep because they are short-acting. Eureka! Is that why I pop awake after 4 hours with my brain racing? He prescribed me something different and last night I slept. Not like a log, but I was able to fall back asleep after waking up in the wee morning hours to pee, so that's progress. And he wants to hear from me in two days to see how the new meds are working. Is it possible, after all this time, I finally found a doctor who truly cares? And there I go with that hope again...

Thanks for joining,
Leah                    

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