the healing dance
Finally feeling better, dental-wise–thank God. Yesterday, I had my first doctor’s appointment with what I hope will be my long-term doctor. It’s been a long road of canceled and rescheduled appointments and seeing other doctors who didn’t fit.
Basically, my visit yesterday was to establish care and get my sinuses checked along with some other lingering shit. I wasn’t expecting it to be a physical, but apparently, that’s what new patient appointments look like at Stanford. Which–NBD–except I wasn’t prepared to strip.
The clinic is about 15 minutes away, and I had a great Lyft driver who actually had lived in Gunnison. He was originally from Texas and was pretty cool. I’ve had great luck with having nice, friendly Lyft drivers who actually talk about things–who I’d actually be friends with if I met them elsewhere. We got to the medical complex, and the first thing I noticed was how a) swank it was, and b) how there was really nowhere for old people waiting on rides to sit. This place clearly catered to younger people and reflected California’s car culture. But they had bags for your umbrellas at the front door. I guess that irked me. I get irked by such things. Anyway, the waiting room reminded me of the Food Stamp office back in the day in Denver. The place you’d go after you were approved and had issues getting your benefits. Too warm, a bit sterile, and all the charm of a government office. Only with flat screen TVs and leather chairs. I was already feeling on edge because I had filled out about 6 pages of paperwork detailing all kinds of shit–but mostly family history–and it was quite redundant–so it was quite an ordeal.
One of the shittier things that happens to you when you lose both your parents is that medical visits–especially new patient medical visits–become pretty traumatic. Most people don’t realize this–and I’m certain medical people do not realize this. For me, I’m okay with a few questions–but having to go into nitty gritty details about how my mother and father died–having to tell that story over and over again–and then again to the medical assistant and then the doctor? Well, it really sucks. I’m convinced it’s why I have white coat syndrome–why my heart races and my blood pressure skyrockets every time I go to a doctor–especially a new one.
So, I was already sort of emotional–and lately–I’m a lot emotional anyway. When I walked in, a really energetic and kind man said welcome and waived me over–trying very hard to expedite things and providing probably the very best service I’ve ever encountered in a medical facility. I appreciated that, but he was clearly stymied by systems that didn’t support that service orientation. No matter–it was fairly painless and I sat to wait. I was taken back to the exam room and was struck by a few things–way nice exam room…and holy crap–I don’t have to climb onto that damn table. (I’m short, okay). And to weigh me, I literally sat on the table which was easy to just sit down on. The table automatically raised and they had my weight. Most awesome ever. It’s all electronic here–too–and I can see all my records at any time. They also have a lab on-site, so no more hunting down Quest and Labcorp locations to be at the mercy of whatever phlebotomist is there.
We chatted, as you do. She examined, as they do. Etc. I got a shot for diptheria since it’s been rampant in our county as well as a tetanus update. Man, was I achy last night. Today, I have a cold. The sick old people gave it to me, I bet. A new diagnosis for an old problem: carpal tunnel–in both hands–not just the one. She recommended some things and said I could do PT in Redwood City if it got any worse.
We talked about my sleep apnea–how I think it’s probably not there anymore (the sleep doc I met with before said it was possible I’d get rid of it by adjusting and losing a little weight–which I did). I haven’t had symptoms in years, but she noted how small my throat is. That, apparently, makes me really prone to all these issues. She suggested an at-home sleep study since I was pretty against another in-hospital one–LIKE FUCK NO NO NO. I’ve done three, and I can never ever sleep. It’s the worst and I hate everyone when I do it. And it’s expensive. She did say–if I had it again–I’d have to go in for an in-house study to test the CPAP crap–which I told her I didn’t want–but she assured me they have variations. Those things make me feel like I’m dying. And I can never sleep with them. But she felt I should do it, so I said–fine–I’ll look into it. I really don’t think I have it anymore. The last time I had my results analyzed, the sleep doc said I just barely had apnea in terms of how many times I woke up a night. But the scary thing was that my oxygen levels got so low when it happened. At the time, I’d have these nightmares and would wake up in fight or flight mode. It was because I wasn’t breathing. My body was fighting to wake me up.
We talked about my insomnia and how it’s worse out here. She gave me some educational shit on it. Which is great, but I probably could have written that stuff. I was polite about it.
We talked about weight and diet and etc etc. She was a fan of what I’d been doing and very impressed by my progress over the last few years. Almost too impressed. And we spent a lot of time talking about mental health stuff. For once, I actually mentioned I have a PTSD diagnosis. I figured–why not? My last doctor knew I had anxiety because I’d asked about Xanax, and she had felt my anxiety wasn’t too bad–that lavender oil would help and be worth trying first. It did and I never needed to discuss it further. I rarely talk about my mental struggles with my drs–which I should–but I guess I don’t give a shit anymore. I didn’t tell her about all my woo woo stuff because this wasn’t my Denver doctor. My Denver doctor used alternative therapies often and was not judgmental. I got the vibe that such things would not be well-respected here.
As far as Western doctors go, it was as good as it gets. Less hassle. Streamlined, transparent care. Medical peeps who cared and acted appropriately. I’ll get what I need here. But, as always, I left feeling like I’d been to a really great McDonald’s. Which–considering where I am and the experiences I’ve had out here–that’s as good as I can get.
Labs came back today, and most of it was normal. Some were on the high side of normal. My WBC/RBC–indicating that–yes–as I suspected–I was fighting an infection and had difficulty breathing–but was on the mend. Normal and okay. My blood sugars were the best they’ve been in three years, which–given my PCOS is a big win. Especially since I’ve been eating out a lot lately. HDL and total cholesterol were good, but LDL was normal and on the high normal side. Need to cut the takeout. Thyroid crap was normal, but for me–that was high. I need to be right on the edge of hyper to feel well. This is probably because I’ve managed to take my thyroid meds about 1x a week for the last month. But the interesting thing was that, while normal, my albumin was just barely normal–which is indicative of someone who has difficulty digesting proteins–like a person with celiac disease. I don’t have celiac…been through that roadshow before. But that’s what not having a gall bladder looks like, and I’ve been lax about digestive enzymes.
All of this tells me that I really need to get back to the care plan my old naturopath had me on. And I need to do more self-care because yea–it matters.
Talking about my parents so extensively yesterday really bothered me. It left me re-traumatized when it’s been years since I’ve felt truly terrible about this stuff. Mostly because it was like this shock and awe version of reality rather than an actual conversation meant to glean real insights. I’m now labeled high risk for diabetes and heart disease because my mother had both. I’m now at high risk for women’s diseases (AKA cancers) because of xyz. But that’s all a partial truth.
There was a time in my life when I wanted nothing more than to share what I had been through. When I had this need to give that shit to other people. But now? Now, I just want to leave it in the past. As much as my mother’s heart problem was devastating? It says little about my fate because it was caused by a thing that really doesn’t exist anymore. And had it not been for that thing? She wouldn’t have had heart problems. But I get it–I do. It’s just–I’m so tired of talking about it. Of living with all this broken heart talk, every day of my life.
I prefer Eastern medicine. I prefer its gentleness. Its big picture outlook. Its recognition that such conversations are holy and shouldn’t be these things you rush through or force someone to go through. It should be a story. Not an interrogation.
So, I have my doctor for prescriptions and emergencies, but I’m still looking for actual healing…root causes. Like why is my thyroid a shitshow? What effect does my anxiety have on that? Still knowing that Western med is not the place where I’ll actually address the shit that makes my life harder than it should be. Anyone know any great healers out here?