To See, Or To Heal. That is the question

I was planning on posting my second Hero Lost interview today, but I can’t sleep and need to process through something else.

Working in the veterinary field, I had this very optimistic, trusting viewpoint of medicine as a whole, human medicine included. Then I started getting old, and falling apart, and needing medical help. Instead of help, I’ve gotten derision, condescension, drugs thrown at me like candy, or mostly complete apathy. As though something about me personally renders me not worth their effort.

My veterinary bosses didn’t take lunches. They went through their files, they called and soothed worried clients, they brainstormed with us, or sought out the expertise of colleagues to find a resolution to a health issue. But the human doctors I’ve seen- who have the advantage of being able to talk directly to their patients- have been more interested in getting people in and quickly out the door. If they can’t figure it out in those 10 minutes they’re in the room with you, you are completely screwed.

My cousin thinks it’s a gender thing. She’s noticed that she is handled differently when she takes her husband to a doctor versus when she has sought help for the same issue at the same place. I read articles and that seems to be the phenomenon: That even when you see another female doctor, women who seek out medical care are instantly labeled as exaggerating hypochondriacs in need of therapeutic attention.

It’s where the word ‘hysteria’ comes from (hyster meaning womb or uterus, whereby ‘hyster-ectomy’ is the removal of the uterus). Hysteria, the belief that our uterii make us insane with false emotion. Hence the ‘delicate sex, prone to hysterics’ bullshit.

But now I see why us in the veterinary field have such problems with owners demanding just to be given drugs rather than coming in for an exam first. Veterinarians err on the side of a real diagnosis. They strive to answer the ‘why’. A growing number of doctors, I think, just want to complete the act of ‘seeing’ patients. Screw the healing portion of the title. Forget the oath or the original call to entering medicine.

Ug.

See, I’ve been having these occurrences since December where I lose sensation and mobility from my lower back down. I can barely walk, I can’t move my toes, my feet go cold, and my back is completely numb. I can’t sit, can’t stand, can’t lay down, walk, not walk. It’s been terrifying. I went to a new PCP, and she threw drugs at me that knocked me out and then started making me hallucinate. But did not help the problem.

The second time it happened, I called her up, and the nurse told me to go to the ER. They put me on prednisone. Which worked, yay, but where’s a diagnosis? I wanted someone to be concerned enough to find the reason that validates the treatment. What if there’s a tumor? What if it’s a blood clot? What if something interventional needs to happen now or it’ll get worse, or permanent? What if it’s not actually my back? I don’t know! I’m not a doctor and diagnosing myself is what I get mad at veterinary clients for. And I really don’t want to take steroids long term.

At my follow-up with my PCP, I asked for a plan. What do we do when it happens again. And she got defensive and condescending! What, do I want another prescription for more pred to just carry around with me? No! I want a plan. What could this be, and what I should do, and what she’s going to do. The appointment ended right there with nothing further. She got up, told me to come back in a couple months, and she left. By the time I exited the building, she was already halfway to her car. Well, that’s exactly how I was made to feel. That I was somehow keeping her from something much more important.

And then it happened again, and it took her five hours to have someone return my call. Five hours when someone calls and says ‘I can’t move.‘ By the time they left the message telling me to go to the ER, I’d already made the hour drive from work, been seen, gotten home, and crashed angrily on the couch with more steroids.

Turns out, that ER doesn’t do diagnostics without a PCPs order. It was a giant waste of time. It was too late by then to find and go to someone else. I had to accept the pred. Why is everyone throwing drugs at me? I saw the same woman I had seen previously, but this time when I told her that I was partially paralyzed from the waist down, she got upset and told me I couldn’t say that. Because if it’s true, that would be bad.

Uh, yea.

What?!

Lie, because being injured or sick or requiring actual help would be bad? I was so angry after that. Vented to one of my supervisors who said no, you need an MRI. I know! I so wished I could go somewhere and say: My veterinarian says I need x, y, z. So, get to it.

So I took myself to a spinal surgeon last week. Nine months is too long. I’m terrified that irreparable damage is happening. I can’t keep missing work, and this is not a fun experience. What shocked the crap out of me was that he looked at me. Not only that, but he asked pertinent questions and then actually touched my legs and had me move. And I didn’t even see the surgeon, but the physician assistant. The people I had gone to before him never looked away from their computer screens. In veterinary medicine, acute paralysis is generally regarded as an emergency. But what do I know? I just work in veterinary medicine. It was such a relief, though, that someone finally listened and took me seriously.

I finally finally got an MRI done on Friday. I won’t get results until next week. Even so, it was such a relief. I’m feeling conflicted though; first, afraid that they’ll find something. But worse, afraid that they won’t. I’m hoping they stay on the mindset of healing, and not just seeing.

 

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