Friday, December 03, 2004

An Update: What Condition My Condition Is In

It's not been a fun week, fellow bloggies.

I've been in the hospital now three times, and in to my doctor's twice in the past seven days. Not exactly my idea of a great time.

I resorted to that ol' standby, the Internet, in an effort to discover why my meds were suddenly failing me. Was it something I did? Something I didn't do? The weather? That funny smell my husband's old cat produces? What?

What I discovered was not heartening. Apparently, for many people with trigeminal neuralgia, the meds just eventually stop working all together. At that point, your only option is to continue getting opiod shots (which, less face it, sucks ass) or chose among the surgical options available.

I have decided to look into surgery.

This is no small step for me. I hate surgery. Loathe it, in fact. But the idea of continuing to live this way, in horrid pain or in the ER, does not particularly appeal to me. The main drawback from the surgeries, insofar as I have been able to deduce from my research, is that sometimes even it doesn't work. And sometimes, the surgery actually makes the situation WORSE. That is not a tantalizing prospect.

I will post more about the various surgical options at a later date. Right now, I want to bitch (surprise, surprise). And the subject of my rant? Asshole doctors.

I am so sick to death of asshole doctors. They come in many varieties, but this past week I was subject to two of them: The Aha! Doctor, and the Otherwise Busy Tin God.

The Aha! Doctor is one who probably watches way too much tv. They want desperately to be able to prove whatever doctors and specialists you've seen before are wrong, and only he has the answer to your troubles. Unlike other versions of the Tin God Syndrome of doctors, Aha! does not believe he deserves adoration simply for having made it through medical school. He believes, without doubt, that he can EARN it. He wants to be worshipped for his skill and superior knowledge. And in order to gain this, he must diagnose your problem and solve it in a speedy amount of time. If you are already diagnosed, Aha! must prove his superiority by discovering that your previous diagnosis was wrong and that, in fact, Aha! is the only doctor whose abilities are sharp enough, keen enough, (dare we say) clever enough to find out the actual source of your woes. When faced with his inability to solve your problem in a neat and tidy package, Aha! will always pass the buck and blame either you, your regular doctor, or both. Aha! is almost always in the emergency room as an attendant or resident. Occasionally Aha! will be a specialist, but Aha! never lasts long there...he either returns to ER work to "help" people, or morphs into a true Tin God.

The Aha! I ran into last week was (surprise, surprise) in the ER. I have seen this particular Aha! before. He is aware of my diagnosis. He is aware that his previous efforts to garner his Aha! moment were in vain. That is no obstacle to him, of course. He still puts me through a battery of unnecessary tests and causes me more pain through them before following the pain management contract and giving me my freaking shot anyway. Passing the buck, as Aha! always does, he berates me for not having seen my neurologist lately. Thus making it my fault that he could not eliviate my pain in any new and interesting way.

Aha! is merely annoying. The Otherwise Busy Tin God is a true, maniacal, beast of an asshole.

My regular doctor was on vacation last week, and the ER was insisting that I be seen by SOMEONE at the office before getting any more shots. That is not a prerequisite in my pain management contract, but as I have mentioned before, that contract is pretty much worthless anyway. But I am trying to be cooperative, trying not to be a pain in the ass, trying to behave and do as they wish so that they have no reason to withold medication from me. These are the sort of demeaning hoops you have to jump through in order to get adequete pain relief in this country. It's absurd.

In any case, I call the office and they make me an appointment with the doctor covering my regular doctor's patients for the next morning. I come in, and within moments I can tell that I am in the presence of an Otherwise Busy Tin God.

His first words to me are: "Why are you here?"

Me (confused): I was told to come in.

Otherwise Busy Tin God: Why?

Me (through my painful, nearly-locked jaw): I have trigeminal neuralgia. I've been in the ER three times. I was told I needed to be seen in the office.

OBTG: I'm not your regular doctor.

Me: I know that. She's not in today, and I was told I needed to be seen today.

OBTG: I'm not sure what you want me to do for you.

Me: I need help with pain management.

OBTG: Don't you have a contract?

Me: Yes. It calls for me to be seen in the office. So here I am.

OBTG: Well, what do you want? I'm not sure what I can do for you.

Me: I need some pain relief.

OBTG: I can make a referral to your neurologist. Will that do? (Begins to leave the room).

Me: No, it won't.

OBTG (exasperated): Why not? I don't see what else I can do for you.

Me: It will take weeks to get an appointment. And I already know what they will say: it's time to look at surgery. It will then take weeks to get in to see the neurosurgeon. (OBTG looks at me in a "and...? So what?" kind of look). I can't wait that long. I need pain relief now.

OBTG: So, you need a prescription?

Me (trying not to get angry): That would be nice, yes.

OBTG (writes script, hands it to me, begins to leave): Here. I can give you 30 Percodan, but that's it.

Me: Thank you. If they do not work, should I return to the ER or to see you?

OBTG: Follow your contract. (slams door)

Thanks a lot, jerkwad. I think he must have skipped Compassionate Bedside Manner 101 class in med school.

It's hard enough to have to come into the office when you're in so much pain you can barely move, to speak when it feels like a live wire is spewing electrical jolts into your cheekbones, to beg for pain medication because you have no other choice....really, it's tough enough without some rude Tin God buttmunch making it a million times harder by treating you as if you were some sort of burden to THEM. As if it weren't somehow their job to, I don't know, TREAT you. As if it would be far too difficult to both treat you AND treat you like a human being at the same time.

If any of my dear readers are in med school, or contemplating it....remember these words: patients are not patients because they want to be, but because they HAVE to be. They are not out to purposefully make your life more difficult. They are, in fact, trying to make theirs LESS difficult. And that is the definition of YOUR JOB.

And always keep in mind that in the end, most of us end up on the "patient" side of the hospital bed. Even Tin Gods.


At 3:52 PM, Blogger Derrick said...

Luckily my Primary doc is a senile old man and I can get what I want. Just his office help sucks. Id hate to be in your shoes with that ass you saw that holds a medical degree. Prolly just for the cash and the women.

Sucks that you have to go through MS and a neuro disease known as the 'Suicide Disease'

Most of the issues I get is how people look at me. They see my arms full of tatts and the piercing I have and the Punk rock shirts and whatever and give me that 'Oh he just wants drugs' look. Just the reverse, I hate pills!!

I hate the ER and hospitals as well. Wish they could find something to help our issues.

At 6:10 PM, Blogger Zen Angel said...

Derrick, you are a man after my own heart. I, too, have often had people assume I am drug-seeking because of my (gorgeous) punk-rock looks. My mohawk, my tattoos, my nose ring....some people don't look beyond that. I have a great link about someone who suffered greatly as a result called "My Doctor, My Jailor?" that I think I just might have to publish here.

Luckily, the asshole doctor I saw is NOT my regular doctor (she's on vacation). My regular doctor is one of those "pain is absolutely unnecessary" types, and I love her for it.

I also hate shots and pills....both make me sick to my stomach, and I hate being sick to my stomach. No amount of Phenergan helps. And ERs? I can't STAND them. But what choices are left to us sometimes?

Thanks for visiting my blog and for commenting.

Fellow bloggies...check out Derrick's blog!


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