Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Unintended Consequences

Yeah, that's not weird.

And that? Not alarming at all.

denelian, in the spirit of sharing, wrote a comment that made my vagina lock up so tight I may never have sex again (thanks!), including something I thought was just me:

THEN the doc told me i'd be a fascinating case study on how treating a person's pain like it didn't matter produced a person who ignored their body's warnings [pain] until their body just QUIT.

That's not just you, denelian. I do that, too. I end up in the hospital with kidney infections, or a spleen the size of Nebraska, or severely dehydrated, or with a fever so high I'm risking brain damage or an ear infection that's spreading to the bone. Each and every time, the ER doctor scolds me. How could I let it go that long? Why didn't I call my doctor earlier- like a week earlier? You almost died, don't you care what happens to yourself?

Of course I care what happens to myself, I just don't pay much attention to my body. I used to. I used to call the doctor every time something weird happened, which is pretty much every day. I've had two doctors dump me for doing just that. So I stopped paying attention to my body. Pain? That's not important. It must not be, nobody cares about it. So why would I pay any more attention to the pain in my left flank than I do to the far worse pain in my knees- until I start peeing blood, that is.

I tried to tell doctors about the tachycardia and palpitations. They did a couple of tests and politely told me to fuck off. So I stopped paying attention to my heart racing so fast I couldn't count it- until I passed out at Dunkin Donuts.

Honestly, I can never tell if I have a fever. I frequently feel like I do when I don't. I'll be miserably hot when it's 20F (-7C) outside, or shivering when it's 85F (29C) and it's no indication of what my internal temperature is. I've mentioned it to doctors and basically been told to stop being melodramatic. So, no, I didn't bother to check my temperature when I had a fever of over 104F (40C)- until I started hallucinating, that is.

Then I get to have an argument with an ER doctor because it's all my fault. I must be psychologically disturbed. The fact that my problem is a direct result of substandard care. Actually, my real problem is that this care is not considered substandard. Undertreating pain is the goal of modern medicine as far as I can tell. And me? I still have to get through my day, so I just ignore my body. I pay no attention to the most alarming things until my body starts to shut itself down.

I recently went to the doctor because my toes keep turning a dark greyish purple. It's really an alarming color on your skin. It's not related to cold or much of anything else that I can figure out, and here's what the doctor said to me: Does it hurt? No, there's no additional pain when my toes turn purple. Well, then, it's really just cosmetic, isn't it?

Yeah, I'm betting it's not just cosmetic. I'm betting I end up in the ER, again, suffering from something horrible. Again.

The above list isn't everything that's sent me to the hospital in the last 10 years. Not even close. The issue isn't infections or dehydration or fevers, the issue is that I push myself to the limit every day. Some days, with the pain, walking five steps is the limit and I have to go way past that. I don't sleep more than five hours a night because of the pain and no more than two hours are uninterrupted sleep. I frequently don't eat because of the pain. I'm not surprised when my body shuts down. And I can't really figure out why doctors act all shocked and appalled by it. Or why that's my fault.


  1. Doctors really are weird about pain. My mother dealt with pain (I don't know how intense) for years, having doctors just keep telling her it was "women's pain." Then she changed doctors and mentioned her "women's pain" in passing. The new doctor flipped out, ran tests, and scheduled my mother for a hysterectomy. Mom's pain went away, but it took finding the right doctor that took her pain seriously. And she only found that doctor after she gave up hope on anything being done with her pain.

    I sometimes get the impression that ER doctors don't understand that far too many GP's are willing to ignore or minimize their clients' pain and other complaints. Part of me wonders if that's because ER doctors are far more used to dealing withe life-or-death situations, whereas GP's tend to see everything as another day at the office.

    And the doctor who said that about your toes turning grayish-purple as "cosmetic"...HUH?!?!?! I'm not a doctor, but what you describe sounds to me like it may be a serious circulation problem.

  2. Google Raynaud's Phenomena or Raynaud's Syndrome and see if it makes sense to you. The hand pic doesn't look like it but the foot pic does.

  3. there *HAS* to be something, this has to change. study after study has shown that women receive lesser healthcare, that doctors are more prone to ignore complaints from a woman than a man - because, see, if a MAN complains, it's because it's so bad he just CAN'T DO IT ANYMORE, but a WOMAN, well, she just has a small bruise or a papercut and will complain at ANY- and EVERYTHING, will make up problems, because all women are A) hysterical B) prone to melodrama/exaggeration and C) are desperate for ANY attention.

    do you read Echidne of the Snakes? she has a new? [new to me] blogger, who is in healthcare and is writing about what's WRONG with healthcare and how to improve it. i've been stalking the new blogger, looking for hope...

    the color issue - while the commenter above me may be onto something [i've never heard of it, i don't know] i remember my original "list of things porphyria might do" included something quite similar to that. i know it leeches melanin from the skin, and can cause weird pigmentation... of course, you really need a doctor - not a jackass with an MD, an actual fucking DOCTOR who cares about hir patients and makes every effort to make sure things are NOT BAD.

    if there ARE any...

    [man, i went from laughing at the beginning of your post to crying, and did it again with this comment.]

    ps: blogger still hates me. i can sign in, i can look at my "dashboard" - but i can't fucking comment, it refuses to acknowledge i'm SIGNED IN and tries to post as "anon" and then won't post...

    seriously, WTF?!

  4. erm - important maybe thing i left out.
    poking me anywhere [the way docs do it] ALWAYS hurts. anywhere. i'm sure it's very similar for you, PF. but my stomach is the WORST - my whole abdominal area is just...
    look, poking my abdomen is not a useful diagnostic tool. it never has been. that's also on my list of "porphyria causes" - abdominal "tenderness, such that the application of 1/2 pound of force can cause the patient great distress, at the approximate same level as a broken bone".

    and she fucking KNOWS that.

    i hate most doctors, i do. it's never ever their fault that they don't listen until i'm dying, and then they have to do absurd expensive things to save my life because they spent six months telling me "it's just the fibromalgia, have some vicodin" while my gall bladded has *ceased to function*. or whatever. it's MY fault for not, i don't know, being able to telepathically PROJECT it all into their head so they KNOW it's true and can then ignore that i'm a women and women always always always lie and are never ever fucking ever anywhere near as "ill" as they claim, never.
    fucking doctors. fuckfuck.FUCK.

  5. you know what - there's STILL half of my first comment that dissappeared. it WAS there... now it's gone. again.

    i guess it wasn't important - blogger hates us

    but that "second" comment makes ZERO sense without the missing bits. sorry :(


Comments are for you guys, not for me. Say what you will. Don't feel compelled to stay on topic, I enjoy it when comments enter Tangentville or veer off into Non Sequitur Town. Just keep it polite, okay?

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