Recently, last week to be exact, I had a colonoscopy and endoscopy done to figure out what has been going on with my stomach. My issues have waxed and waned since 1998, sometimes being horrible, to the point I lost 20lbs and then got better, where I thought I was healed until my stomach reminded me on no uncertain terms that it had not relinquished its hold on me. After 21 years and have finally had enough I sought another opinion, but because it had been so long between doctors and tests, it was recommended that I have more testing done. So the colonoscopy and endoscopy were scheduled and I went in to have it done.
For any of you who had had it done you know the prep is both an inconvenient and humiliating experience that is difficult to tolerate. This is doubled when you are already having troubles with your stomach and makes the entire experience that much worse. I had the terrible misfortune of my procedure being scheduled for 7am which meant that the prep had to be done at 6pm and then at 11pm, which meant I got little sleep. As a pain patient, this made my pain exponentially worse, and I would find out later, recovery time for the procedure much longer than even I anticipated.
The procedure went off without a hitch and I woke up to the news that I had an ulcer as well as some pretty alarming gastritis. Okay. I was more alarmed at the ulcer because I knew what could be the cause of it but I was so tired from the anaesthetic I didn’t really worry about it. Later on in the evening, I read what they sent me home with: I had chronic gastritis and a chronic gastric ulcer. I have to make a follow-up appointment, but in big bold letters on the top of the page, it read:
NO! Aspirin, Motrin, Advil, Naproxen and Ibuprofen. I had to read it a few times to process it for a few reasons. Among my myriad of health issues are Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Inflammatory Arthritis and Migraine. I use Naproxen all the time and The Excedrin I take has Aspirin, and I take Motrin or Ibuprofen or Naproxen daily. What the hell was I supposed to take? Though I don’t think my anxiety was directly responsible, I proceeded to get a migraine that lasted four days after this. Make what you want of that.
Luckily, my youngest and I had an appointment with our neurologist and after he spoke to my daughter about how her meds helped and got around to me I was finally able to get everything off my chest and his expression and response was priceless.
“Well, that’s just hogwash!” he shook his head, reading over what had been written there on the top of the findings and just looked at me with irritation in his eyes. “This,” his finger tapping against the page, “this, is why I hate my colleagues. You have to look at patients holistically. You may not be experts in all of the other things that might trouble them, but you have to be able to understand them because you can’t just go NO with a big red marker, and expect them to live.” He continued to just sigh and shake his head.
My doctor used my favourite word. Holistically. And he used it in the way it should be used. I have a lot of things wrong with me, for which I go to many specialists. But none of them gets on a conference call at any point to ask,
“Yo..how are we going to treat this patient, Liza? She’s got this wrong with her Bob, that’s your turf. And she’s got this wrong with her, that’s your’s Jane.” And so on. No one is looking at me or you as a whole person (or very few are) and I truly believe that presents a problem when we are endeavouring to feel better. At this point, I am not looking for a cure. I am not that naïve. I know there is no cure, I know there is no one out there who can give it to me. What I am looking for now is quality of life. I want to have the best quality of life I can so I can enjoy my life as pain-free as possible. But if you can imagine this: large office space with cubicles and in each cubicle is your specialist and then there is you, the patient, standing somewhere outside the building. All these doctors are trying to help you, as you come in to see them but never as a whole. How is that even possible? If you were in a hospital after a major car accident that affected many parts of your body, the doctors would be consulting one another as to the best course of action to make you better. But for whatever reasons that you might need 5 or ten specialists, none of them would ever think to call the other to try and figure out how to treat you together. We’ve forgotten how to treat a person a holistically and because of that I truly believe that patients needlessly suffer or on top of being patient, we have to become P.A. and manage all our symptoms and medications, bring them to each specialist to see if there anything we can do better to treat the myriad of symptoms. I know we’re messed up, complicated, a challenge, but isn’t this why they went to medical school? Not everyone is an easy open/shut case. It’s times like these I wish there was a House, M.D.
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