Brittany wants to dance again. Read the note at the bottom to find out how you can help.
I spent yesterday and today at doctor’s offices, not for Atticus for once, but for me. I tend to get neglected when there are already so many other appointments to make and places to be and there are so few hours available without Atti at my side. I’ll be helping him bathe and toilet for a lot longer than most kids, we’re close enough without him coming with me to the gynecologist.
Moving means finding a new doctor, and switching insurances means learning a whole new set of ropes. I’ve had Kaiser for my whole adult life which is great in that you don’t have to search for people who can help you, but it’s also bad because you can’t search for people who can help you. Kaiser was top notch for Atti’s care and I’d go back without a qualm if it ended up that way, but I had a lot of bad bad years trying to get my own medical needs addressed. Doctor’s who told me that I was crazy, that wouldn’t prescribe me pain medication until I saw a psychiatrist, that performed surgeries incorrectly, that told me to read The Secret. (I also had doctors who saved my life, saved Atti’s life, and gave me the keys to understanding how my mind works, so this is more a bash on bad doctors than Kaiser doctors, but with Kaiser the options are far far fewer.)
Honestly, I’ve pretty much given up hope about ever feeling healthy. On top of the endometriosis there are a couple of other issues that I haven’t written about because they involve my gynecological health and even I have my limits. I will write about the inner workings of my diseased mind, but apparently not the inner workings of my diseased vagina. Except for that sentence right there.
Doctor’s rarely take female pain seriously, they almost never take gynecological pain seriously, and they very very very rarely consider something that lab tests don’t show. I have every single symptom and risk factor for a major auto-immune disease like Rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus, but the one test most doctors put all their faith in says I’m good, so the doctors keep treating all the different symptoms and tell me that there’s nothing wrong. After losing my twenties to being bed-ridden and in pain, I figure that I’m just not going to get everything I want and I should be grateful that I at least have the ability to function and a beautiful son. A healthy body and feeling great are just not going to be in the cards for me, and I had resigned myself to that.
Yesterday I went to the doctor for a nagging hip pain. Every time I try to stand up the hip goes out on me in such a sharp pain it takes my breath away. I hunch over and groan my way up from the couch every time I have to move. After a little manipulation, the doctor discovered that it’s not my hip that’s the problem, it’s my ligament. A ligament that is usually only pulled in dancers or gymnasts, and since I am neither of those things and can’t point to a specific injury, say, some time I was playing soccer and took a hit, then it means I injured it during sex. At which point I laughed and laughed and laughed, because, of course.
Since it’s not torn and doesn’t require surgery, there’s nothing to do but baby this hip until it heals. That’s where most doctors would tell me to have a nice day. But this doctor actually kept asking questions. Since I’m not into anything in the bedroom that regularly results in injury, he suspected there were other health issues going on, and kept researching until he came up with a plan. I was honestly shocked. He asked me if I had ever tried medications that every other doctor I’ve ever had flat out refused to prescribe as a matter of course, not because the medications wouldn’t help me but because the doctors didn’t want to deal with the red tape of prescribing tightly regulated drugs. They treated me as if I was an addict looking to score instead of a patient wanting to responsibly use the medication as it was intended to be used. My new doctor automatically extended me the benefit of the doubt.
Giving a medical history is always a scary thing to me. On paper, I am a mess. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bipolar II Disease, Endometriosis. For doctors that spells: Trouble. That says “pain in the neck hypochondriac attention seeker time and energy vampire.” Most doctors want something they know how to fix, not a big mystery of mental health issues and chronic pain. So they look at my medical history and put me in a box in their head labeled “Can’t Be Trusted.” I told my new doctor about my mental health and cringed as he typed it in, waiting for his voice to change to the “speaking slowly and calmly” voice people use around the crazy and the elderly. But he didn’t even slow down. He told me about another patient he treated with OCD and how he recognized it as a truly debilitating disease. He expressed concern with my current medications and how they would affect my BPII and we talked about my love of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. He studied Ayurvedic medicine and is a believer in a mind/body connection, but not in the fanciful “Just read The Secret” way, in the “Mental Health is a significant and real part of Physical Health” way, and so he took all my history in stride, unthreatened.
I left with some bummer news I hadn’t wanted to address, but also, with a strange feeling of hope. I realized how thoroughly I had given up on finding help, but I think I may have actually found some.
**My friend Brittany is another chronic pain sufferer and needs help rediscovering her own sense of hope. After years of battling lyme disease and having it ravage her body, rob her of her health, and defer her dancing dreams, she is finally beginning to experience treatment that works. But she needs your help. BrittanysHope.net**