Why do you always get sick on vacation?

After the past couple of crazy weeks, I finally have a few days off in a row to rest, take care of myself, and pursue my own endeavors. So what happens the first day? Sore throat. Wicked bad sore throat. The kind where if I’m not constantly swallowing and eating ice cream and downing liquids then it just might close up and I might die. It hurts a little bit.

One of my two spoiled rotten cats is sick too. Cheetara’s been sniffling, she has a weepy eye, and I can hear her wheezing. She’s normally my cuddler. She’s the one I call my teddy bear because she wants to sleep in my arms every night. And if my arms are busy with a book or with Bear, then she’ll back her little fuzzy body up into mine and spoon me. But now that she’s not feeling well, the cuddle factor has been upped dramatically. Whenever she goes into heat it’s the same routine. She just wants to be held and wants me to make her feel better. Which I understand because currently? I just want to be held and want Bear to make me feel better. So Cheetara and I are making do with each other. She sneezes and I cough and we both snuggle down under the blanket with a heating pad – me underneath it and Cheetara balancing on top.

In other news – Dr. I’mnotlooking’s office called me a few days ago to schedule my surgery and a few appointments before that. I got out my calendar and flipped immediately to the back. I was just grateful I wouldn’t be shunted around from department to department and doctor to doctor like I was last time. The last time I had this surgery, I also had to wait about six months to get in, which I was expecting to have to wait again.

Imagine my surprise when I got my lap date and it turned out to be – March 10th. That’s three weeks away. THREE WEEKS!! THREE WEEKS AND I’LL BE HEALED!! The doctor’s office called back a few days later to reschedule and I nearly flipped. “Oh, no,” I thought, “I don’t care if someone made a mistake. You gave me this day and I’M KEEPING THIS DAY!” But they only meant to bump me back 45 minutes. Which is actually even better for me because then I get 45 more minutes of sleep. Although, who am I kidding. Like I’ll be sleeping the night before.

So now that this timeline is so rushed, it’s forcing all our other timelines to compress. Now we have to buy a new car so I can go out and get a job. Barf. A JOB. Sigh. The money would be really nice, and it will probably be good that I’ll occasionally be leaving the house, but I’ve grown to really like it at home. I like getting up when I can and writing and creating and being a homemaker and going to sleep when I’m tired instead of when I should.

But, I also like the idea of owning my own house and having a baby, so it’s back to work for me. Hopefully I’ll be able to find something around here that makes it worth it.

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I’m being well taken care of after all, just not by my doctor

This past week has been quite an emotional roller coaster. I’ve been sobbing and panicking and in tremendous pain, but I’ve also been supported and loved on all sides.

This happened to be the busiest week I’ve had in months, probably years, as every single day was filled with at least one if not two or three activities I had to show up for. For everyone who regularly goes to work an eight hour day and then comes home to deal with dinner and cleaning and running kids around and maybe an activity or two of their own, three measly things to do is quite laughable, I’m well aware. But for me, having one thing to do in a day is a busy day. As I write this I’m expecting my reading student to come over any time now and just an hour of reading with a delightful 10 yr old boy is stressful to me right now because it keeps me out of my pajamas and out of my bed.

Midway through my busiest week on record, I have the legendary Doctor’s appointment from hell. OK, not hell. Unpleasantville. And I have to spend the rest of the week on ALEVE instead of my normal much more hardcore drugs, which of course doesn’t work, so I’m writhing around largely unmedicated and in utter agony. In that condition, I obviously had to cancel the rest of my obligations for the week so that my friends and associates don’t have to see me turn possessed.

When my closest family members and the doctors that are supposed to be treating me continually show such a profound lack of understanding or compassion about my disease, it always shocks me to no end when I find it somewhere else. And this week I found it all over the place, just no where near where I was initially looking.

A friend from church not only took me to the doctors and waited for me with her two young kids in tow, but after she found out about how badly I was suffering, she brought me a pound of See’s chocolates and called to give the sweetest and best “cheer-up, you’re doing great!” speech ever. Another friend from church dropped by to check on me and gave me a kindhearted lecture that he shouldn’t have to hear about my setbacks from other friends. I should go straight to him so he could help! People were calling constantly to check up and offer to bring me popsicles or fetch prescriptions or to tell me that they loved me. Our Canadian friends took a break from their frantic packing schedule (they left for a cruise first thing the next morning) to call me once and then visit me later just to lend moral support. And then once I was finally able to get some medicine on board and feel well enough to leave the house and go to church, there was such a rousing chorus of “Hooray! Tresa made it to church today! We’re so happy to have her here!” that I felt deeply loved from head to toe.

Discovering how many people care about you and learning of the kindness in humanity, it almost makes all this garbage worth it. Well, at least bearable.

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Panic attacks tend to be counter-productive

What with Dr. I’mnotlooking’s decision to give me no pain killers that I couldn’t just go out and get on my own without the office visit and dealing with the leftover lube they toss all around my lower extremities, I’ve been crying pretty much non stop since I left his office.

Not because he hurt my feelings beyond repair. We unfortunately live in an area rife with drug abusers and the training he has on what to watch out for sounds exactly like a real person in real pain. That’s why addicts are known to be such good manipulators and liars. I still say that you should not let your fear of abuse prevent you from treating your patients, but hey, what do I know about what his bosses are harping down on him about?

Mainly I’ve been sobbing my fool head off because I am freaked the freak right the freak out that I’ve going to have to experience every moment of every painful twinge and cramp and ache and just suffer with no relief in sight. And the amount of pain that is staring me in the face? IS TERRIFYING.

I imagine this is how expectant mothers feel about their impending labor. They’ve been pumped full of birth horror stories since they started ovulating, they don’t know when it’s going to start, but they know that it will start and that when it does the pain will be great enough to turn a beautiful loving mother into an irrational snarling she-beast bent upon revenge and destruction.

I just also have the added privilege of knowing precisely how bad this pain could get. Considering that I have vomited from the pain when I have been fully medicated, considering that while on drugs too strong for a doctor to feel comfortable dispensing to a highly coherent patient in obvious pain I had pain so great I literally, LITERALLY as in “in the literal sense”, could not breath and my heart started fluttering, considering that while on Vicodin I’ve sweated and snarled and crawled and grabbed and writhed with the best of them….

Well, there just aren’t words to describe the joyous sense of anticipation that fills my days.

I’ve been on the phone all day and night calling for medical records, calling former doctors and asking them to intervene, crying to family and friends in the medical field and asking their advice, and I think we’ve worked out a pretty good battle plan. I’m going to fill that damn Naproxyn prescription (although the pharmacist will probably just point me to Aisle 8, 2nd shelf from the top), I’m going to take it and the second I start to feel pain, I’m calling his office. If that doesn’t work I’ll go to urgent care and make him look bad in front of the emergency room doctors who will sure as hell know what Ultram is, and if that doesn’t fix it I’ll go to my family practice doctor with my medical records and demand some damn pain treatment.

Today my greatest battle is just staying calm. As any stupid person can tell you, the first thing you’re supposed to do in situations like this is….say it with me if you know the words….”JUST RELAX.” But that’s kind of impossible to do knowing what I know. It’s like trying to take nice deep breaths while you see a grizzly bear barreling towards you. But more stress is the absolute last thing I need to get through this. Besides an uncaring doctor, but that’s implied, right?

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Any spelling mistakes are the fault of these stupid tears.

Finally.

FINALLY.

5 years since my last operation, and 2 years since we expected coverage, our health insurance kicked in. I just got back from my first visit with my new Gyno. And I’m BAWLING MY FOOL HEAD OFF and sitting in my jammies and canceling all my plans for the day because I plan on laying on the couch in the fetal position with one or both cats and watching cheesy cheesy guilty pleasure movies like “Don’t Tell Her It’s Me” while I sob into their fur.

It’s really not anywhere near as bad as I’m making it. But my feelings were hurt in one area, and instead of being so excited about the progress I’m making and all the nice people I met who were so good at their jobs and so willing to help me, I’m licking my wounds and panicking about the pain I see coming my way.

First of all, our provider is Kaiser which brings it’s own little set of trials and blessings. I had them when we lived in the O.C. and they were responsible for my last lap. Their best quality is that they are so stinking cheap for copays and deductibles. My $48,000 surgery cost me 15 bucks. Their staff is awesome and capable and so sweet, they cover everything I’ve ever needed including 3 tries at IUI (which they advised me not to bother with since I am a Hopeless Case), and they believe in well-patient treatments so they’re awesome with pediatrics and they offer all kinds of free clinics and education and alternative treatments.

But, if you are unique in any way, you are on your own. To be in the Kaiser system you will take the treatment they give you and you will be grateful and you will NOT DEVIATE FROM THE REGIMINE! No, they will not treat your endo with surgery until after you have taken every single freaking infertility class they offer. No matter how bad your pain is or how obvious your symptoms are they will not treat your endo with surgery until after your partners sperm count is measured on three seperate occasions and until after you have had an HSG (regardless of the fact that they’ll just do another HSG during the lap) and there are four separate appointments to accomplish each measly step and you will take the appointment they give you and be grateful, even if that means you have to wait a month to see some nurse practioner who will only prescribe you an antibiotic so you can take that before your HSG appointment which can’t be scheduled for another month. In short, RED TAPE HELL.

So I was a little hesitant to go back to them. But once Bear did the math, which is just about his favorite thing, we realized that with as often as we planned on using our coverage, the smart money was on beautiful no-deductible Kaiser.

Last week I took a deep breath and dove back into the Red Tape Fest. In Kaiser land they won’t even look at you without a medical record number. They can’t do anything without it. Not book an appointment, not a visit, not a hello. It took me about four hours lost in phone menus and web pages, but I finally found a delightful woman (I tell you, their staff is legendarily awesome) who couldn’t have been better and got me an appointment the day after my insurance kicked in. Hooray! I thought to myself.

Of course, even four hours of searching is way too smooth. I should’ve known there would be a snag. I show up to my appointment today and they type my number into the computer, and there’s nothing there. So I go to the Member Services office where the best lady ever tried to help me for 30 minutes and we got no where. So on the sly she handed me a temp card and send that if I couldn’t get it straightened out right away I’d have to pay for the appointment myself. I could’ve kissed her. I’d still have to deal with corporate offices and more dreaded red tape, but at least I got to keep my precious appointment.

So once that’s all fixed I met with the doc. We’ll call him Dr. I’mnotlooking since he wouldn’t look at my breasts during the examination, for my comfort I’m sure, and then he had a weird habit of talking with his eyes closed for extended periods of time. In poker they’d call it hooding – like an extended blink with the eyebrows raised like the eyelids were going to flip up at any moment like windowshades in an old Tom and Jerry cartoon.

He was very sweet, made sure I was comfortable at all times, switched to a smaller speculum when I was in too much pain, and agreed to put me on his surgery schedule (Hallelujah!!) but he also did something that REALLY horked me off.

I’m getting ahead of myself. First of all you have to understand, I live in Modesto. If you’ve heard of Modesto it can only be one of two things: notable criminal cases, or the raging meth problem. In fact, we very proudly hold the title of largest Meth producer. Salt Lake City tries to keep up, but we’ve got them beat cold. If you were a doctor in Modesto, I can only imagine that you’d see A LOT of addicts. And if Oprah’s programming schedule is any indication, a lot of those addicts aren’t so scary street person looking anymore. They look like any other suburban anybody. Maybe even like me.

So in walks this well-dressed, educated woman, who he’s never spoken to or seen before, complaining of constant excruciating pain, claiming to have a history of endo but with no real proof and it was probably the case that the last three patients he saw were asking for heavy narcotics. My chart lists that I occasionally take Vicodin (extremely occasionally – that crap is EXPENSIVE) but usually Ultram/Tramadol, which HE’S NEVER EVEN HEARD OF, and then I ask for a prescription for the pain.

He didn’t exactly call me a pill-seeker, but he didn’t exactly not either, it’s more like he just expressed a distaste for prescribing narcotics especially since we haven’t had time to get into the “social, chemical, or psychological factors that cause chronic pelvic pain” or in other words since he didn’t have the time to talk to me and make SURE I wasn’t a pill-seeker. He actually had the balls, after I cried and hyperventilated my way through the pelvic exam because it hurt too much when he inserted THE SWAB!! to ask if I could get by on 800mg of motrin. Which is FOUR FREAKING ADVIL! Of course not! 5 years ago I had Stage III endo and it’s been growing largely unchecked since then. I’ve been disabled for two years with pain. If FOUR FREAKING ADVIL would ease the pain then would you call that disabled? So he writes a prescription for Naproxyn and I say OK because I’ve never had that before and if I had just said that Motrin wouldn’t cover it, then he wouldn’t really try and push another OTC on me, would he?

So guess what Naproxyn turns out to be.

FREAKING ALEVE!!!!!! AAALLLLEEEEEEEEVVVVVEEEEE. Oh thank you wise doctor. You know in all the years I’ve been clutching my guts and praying for death, In all the times I’ve been in the pharmacy reading the back of every freaking bottle hoping that something would at least let me sleep through the pain that night, never once have I looked slightly to my left to find my salvation waiting there for me right on the shelf. Why didn’t anyone tell me these things were READILY AVAILIABLE. It’s a good thing you went to med school and got all that training so you can tell me EXACTLY THE SAME THING THE COMMERCIALS TELL ME!

You’d think that an OBGYN, who does nothing but deal with women’s health day in and day out would be a little more compassionate to the pain management needs of a patient. Granted I just walked off the street, but what in the hell does a girl need to do, suffer in agonizing pain for two months so he can get to know me before he gives me the drugs that will help me survive?

The thing that really pisses me off is that I never asked for Vicodin. I hate taking Vicodin. When I’m on that stuff, I can’t do anything. I can’t talk, I can’t read, I can’t knit. I can lay on the couch or sleep. That’s it. Who would really want that for their entire life? Besides an addict, obviously. I was asking for Ultram, which is a few steps down from Vicodin, but HE’D NEVER HEARD OF IT. I asked for anything between OTC and Narcotic and he couldn’t come up with a thing.

Bear suggested having my prescribing doctor, my father-in-law, email the doc and explain my past treatment and act as character witness, and possibly introduce him to Ultram. I was also thinking of emailing him myself and telling him that if he’d told me he was giving me a prescription for ALEVE I could have saved him the trouble and explained that I’ve already tried it and it does nothing for me, can I please have a real drug since you are the DOCTOR and are supposed TO HELP ME.

I might have to try revising it a few times to get the bitterness out.

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