Doctors and Chimps

It’s been raining off and on for several days, mostly ON. The furbabies are sick of the rain too, as they can’t (or won’t is more accurate) go out on the catio like they normally do. The roof keeps springing leaks; Dad thinks he has the problem solved and then it starts dripping again with the next rainfall, although in a different spot. We just can’t win. Last night, I needed my trusty earplugs in order to get any sleep at all. The blasted drip, drip, drip outside my bedroom window seemed much louder than it should have.

Monday started out with a little rain but not too bad. I had to take Dad to the doctor for his 6-month check up so I was happy to not have to drive in pouring rain. There were large puddles on the road, but that wasn’t a problem. We left a little earlier than normal to compensate for driving a bit slower.

Dad’s doctor used to work in 3 different clinics of the same medical group in the area but then she started seeing patients in just one clinic. Just our luck, it was the clinic furthest from us which is approx. 45 minutes away. So, off we went. When we got to the clinic, Dad went to check in and he was told that his doctor had retired last month. The girl at the desk said that all of Dr. Harper’s patients were called. I said, “No one called us!” Dad sure wasn’t going to speak up, so I did. “We had to drive 45 minutes to get here,” I said. She said, “I’m sorry. I don’t know how his appointment got missed.” I do. Incompetence. But ok. I know shit sometimes happens, so I let it go. Naturally, there were no appointments open for that day with another provider so we had to make another appointment. This time for Wednesday and with a nurse practitioner because they don’t have a doctor there as of yet. Dad needed his scripts renewed so he had no choice.

Tuesday, was my appointment to see my therapist. Dad likes to come along because we go have lunch afterward. My therapist moved her practice further away and there are more restaurant choices, so we make a big day of it. It was raining when we left the house and it never let up. It rained all day long. My knees were in bad shape. I could barely walk – it was worse than normal and I’m pretty sure it was because of the rain. What they say about arthritis and joint problems is true. The weather dictates how bad the pain is! We managed to get to my therapist’s office without any problems. She gave me some helpful suggestions for the sleep problems I’ve been having.

When we left her office it was STILL raining! We decided to not drive too much further and just had Mexican food at El Patron. Great food, clean place, and very nice people! Can’t ask for much more than that when eating out! Problem is, we nearly didn’t make it.

I was in the right-hand lane of the highway because I knew I would be turning right. When I saw the intersection and traffic light I started to slow down. There was a vehicle in the left-hand lane, who decided he was going to move into the right-hand lane. He was going much too fast considering the rain and large puddles on the roads. Visibility was low and obviously, he didn’t see me there, directly on his right. If I hadn’t been already slowing, and paying close attention, he would have slammed right into us! I’m sure it would have been a disaster, knocking us completely off the road. I can honestly say, that I am an excellent driver. I have had no accidents. I have received no tickets, parking or traffic. I am an extremely good driver. I am always on top of things. I am constantly watching and anticipating a stupid move by another driver. ALWAYS. I was on top of my game that day and avoided a catastrophe. I hope that guy (or woman) knows just how lucky they were that they didn’t cause an accident.

I swear, driving in the rain is like driving with chimpanzees.

(Although truthfully, I’m pretty sure chimps could do a better job driving than the morons I encounter on the road these days.)

When we finished our lunch, we headed home. Talk about tired. This was the third day of dealing with other people. Not my forte.

So, today I’ve decided I’m not doing a damn thing. Well, that’s a lie. I did the laundry I didn’t have a chance to do for 3 days. I made a pot of Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup, which is always delish and warms the innards on a cold and rainy day. I took a 2-hour nap and slept like a baby! I never even got out of my pajamas! It was a calm and peaceful day.

That’s my kind of day.

 

Excitement, Obstacles & Why Can’t Anything Be Easy?

I haven’t been writing much lately, for a few reasons. Just bummed mostly but excited for family to come. I had to get the house ready as best I could and get groceries so I’d have food to feed everyone. It was a good visit but not long enough. I lost a few hours with them too, because someone couldn’t bend a little. They’re gone now and I miss them tremendously!

I had to cancel my last appointment with my therapist because it was scheduled the day family would arrive. I emailed her later to explain why since I didn’t get to speak to her personally when I rescheduled the appointment. I told her about a few things that have happened in the last three weeks and when she responded she said, “Nothing is ever easy for you, is it?” She nailed it! I’ve been saying that for years! Here’s a rundown of the things that have happened in the past three weeks:

  1. My insurance covered the last round of injections I received but changed their policies since then. They won’t cover them anymore, so now I have to struggle not knowing if they would have helped with my pain.
  2. Ortho doc won’t reconsider knee replacement surgery because my weight/BMI isn’t where they want it to be and my legs are still weak. I think by the time she decides to move forward with surgery, my insurance will no longer cover it. That’s just my luck.
  3. My new doc (since January ’17) that I searched for over the last 10 years, has left the clinic and they won’t tell me where she went! Figures. I finally find a good doctor; one who listens and actually tries to help, and she’s gone. Now I have to find a new doctor or see another in that clinic.
  4. I tried to include my first-born grandson, (who was adopted by his other grandparents) in our little family get-together even though I knew what the outcome would be. The other grandmother wouldn’t hear of it, even though she too, was invited. Instead, she went behind my back and made other arrangements for D.M. to see my daughter (his mother) and his little brother. This took several hours away from us. I’m glad my daughter was able to see D.M. but it’s a shame that other grandmother couldn’t bend a little and come to our house so we could all spend time with D.M.
  5. D.M.’s birthday was Oct. 23. I made arrangements to meet after school to give him his gift in person. This is what we’ve been doing the last few years for Christmas and birthdays. I didn’t think this year would be any different. The night before we were supposed to meet, I find out D.M. is sick. Ok, so I mailed him his gift. It has now been 2 weeks and I’ve not heard one word about whether he liked his gift from me and his great-grandpa. Nice. What a way to teach a kid manners, right?

Anyway, nothing is ever easy for me. It seems that I run into an obstacle at every turn. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect life to be easy but sometimes it seems the universe hates me! Every month, there’s something new staring me down…as if to say, “Don’t get too comfy!” I wonder what’s in store for me in November…..

10 Years Coming….

It’s been months (and months and months) since I’ve updated my blog! The last time was just after being fat-shamed by a so-called specialist last year that my doctor finally sent me to. At that point I was pretty much done with doctors, especially the one I had been seeing since 2005. I had tried numerous times to find a new doctor….one was just as bad or worse than the one I was seeing so I just gave up. Tired of being knocked down time and time again.

Instead I focused on losing weight. I had tried for years to lose weight, never getting any help from my doctor, naturally. I tried every diet in existence, so it seemed….except for the diets you have to pay for. I couldn’t afford to to do that. I still can’t but I had to do something. I was at the heaviest I had ever been and it wasn’t getting any better. With doctors saying things like, “eat less calories,” and “you’re not getting enough exercise,” and “eat smaller portions,” and not even asking any questions about my diet or exercise, it became blatantly clear that I was not going to get anywhere with them! So, I signed up with Nutrisystem.

I started Nutrisystem on April 24, 2016. I lost 8 lbs. the first month. I am currently teetering between a 50 – 60 lb loss. I’m quite proud of myself! Nutrisystem does work but you have to stick to it. I followed the plan exactly as they instructed and by Thanksgiving I felt that I could relax a little. After the holidays I got back to it and I will continue to stay on it until I am at a weight that I’m happy with. I digress here, this post is not about my weight loss….but it WAS the start of a new, more confident me.

After the holidays were over, I realized that as much as I despise doctors, I still need one. I realized that it must be a new doctor because my current doctor was not acceptable. Tired of her constantly sweeping my concerns under the rug and giving me stupid answers. For 6 years I heard, “You’re too young for knee replacement surgery.” She never once sent me to a specialist to make that assessment. Last March, when she finally did send me to a specialist, the specialist said, “You’re not too young for knee replacement surgery. You’re just too fat.” So, if my doctor would have sent me to him 6 years and 60 lbs ago, then maybe I would have had some kind of treatment or the surgery and regained my life by now! Thanks a lot, Doc.

So, in Jan. 2017. I started researching doctors in neighboring counties/towns. Of course, I had done this before a few times and ended up not making any progress towards finding a new doctor. This time was different. It had to be different! I made an appointment with a local doctor. I was prepared to get knocked down yet again, because that’s what always happens. This time was different. This new doctor spent an entire hour with me! She sent me for xrays and she lined up an appointment with a specialist in March. She told me that she didn’t think my current weight would be an issue with knee replacement surgery. I was so relieved to have found this woman! She was kind and sympathetic, informative and thorough. This was the first time in 10 years I had felt hopeful. 10 freakin’ years I had been trying to get help. In the very beginning it wasn’t even pain, but I knew something was wrong. Year after year, no special blood tests, no imaging, no help, no information. Now I finally had some hope!

When I saw the specialist, she was also very nice, sympathetic, informative and thorough. Instead of telling me I was too young for knee replacement surgery, she explained to me WHY age was a factor. Instead of telling me I was too fat, she explained to me WHY weight/BMI is an important factor. She even offered a referral to a weight loss specialist. Instead of telling me to do squats to strengthen my leg muscles, she sent her in-office Physical Therapist in to talk to me and he gave me specific exercises to do at home. (My insurance won’t pay for pre-surgery PT.)

This doctor, asked me many questions about what I have tried and offered injections (other than the normal cortisone shots that didn’t help me at all) and told me it was entirely my decision as to which injections I wanted to try and she gave me informational pamphlets to help me decide. In April, I went back to her with a decision. I decided on Synvisc-One injections. This injection was suppose to create cushion in my knees where I was bone on bone. I was very nervous. I’m already in tremendous pain so I was apprehensive about the pain of a needle being jabbed into my knees! It really turned out to be ok. It wasn’t that bad. Afterward, I was walking with little pain and faster than I had in years! Of course, it didn’t last long. A few short hours later it was right back to the way it was before. My knees are just too far gone.

In an effort to help with pain management, my primary doctor prescribed a medication that helps nerve pain and nerve pain caused from inflammation. It can cause depression so I have to be careful. It has helped with some of the odd pains I was having…..and therefore helping me sleep at night. Not perfect sleep, but better sleep. I’ll take it.

So, it’s June now and I am still working on my weight and building the muscles in my legs to support my knees. I can’t get the injections again for 6 months, but they won’t help anyway. I just have to keep trying different things to manage my pain.

Slowly but surely, I am moving forward. I had been stuck for 10 years trying to get help with no success. I was sinking deeper and deeper into depression and hopelessness. I am finally getting help and guidance, information and treatment!

Mistrust, Disgust & Humiliation, Part Two

Well, my appointment with the orthopedic specialist came and I’m glad it’s over! What started out as a consultation about my knees, turned into a fat-shaming session — in less than 5 minutes!

First, he asked me what he could do for me and I told him that my doctor had been telling me for years that I’m too young for knee replacement surgery but that I’m in severe pain and having mobility issues. I told him I need help.

He said, “Well, Debbie. You’re not too young for knee replacement surgery.” I felt good for a split second that I was finally going to get some help. Ha. Short lived. He added, “However, you’re not a good candidate for knee replacement because you’re too heavy.” See, less than 5 minutes.

If I’m such a risk why did I just have surgery last year? 

He continued to tell me how I needed to count calories and eat smaller portions. I sat there in total disbelief because this man has the balls to think he knows me?? I tried to explain to him that I have been struggling with my weight since my first child was born and I’ve not had much success in losing weight. He interrupted me to tell me I needed to eat less calories. I said, “If it were that simple I wouldn’t be fat right now, now would I?” He said, “Let me tell you a story and see if it makes sense to you, Debbie.” He proceeded to tell me about his sister, who was overweight and was suffering from knee pain. She was a widow and she ate out all the time. She didn’t cook for just herself. He said one day he went to visit her and she had lost a lot of weight. He asked her how she did it and she told him that she would get her food at restaurants, eat half and save the rest for lunch the next day. Of course it makes sense but….

I tried to tell him that I’ve been trying to get help losing weight multiple times because I just can’t seem to lose. I told him I think there’s something else going on. “Eat less calories,” he said. Seeing red! I told him that I can’t even exercise like I need to! “You don’t need to exercise to lose weight, Debbie!” I was getting angrier by the minute. I mean, sure you can lose weight without exercising but if you have too much extra weight and you don’t exercise you’re going to end up with loose skin hanging all over your body! Exercise and diet go hand in hand. Both are important – says every fitness and nutrition expert in the world! They can’t all be wrong!! Besides, it wasn’t just exercise that I couldn’t do. I was having trouble with daily activities! My knees are severely damaged! You just don’t realize how important your knees are until you can’t even pivot, or get up out of a chair!

I tried to tell this man, who has the bedside manner of Donald Trump, that I don’t eat the way he thinks I eat! He says, “I don’t think anything about you, Debbie.” I said, “Obviously you have this preconceived notion that I eat more than I should and that I eat a lot of calories!” He interrupted me, yet again. “Eat less calories, Debbie. Calories are the key.” I interrupted him this time and said, “Let me tell you what I eat!” I tried to explain to him that I drink lots of water, watch my sugar consumption, watch my portion sizes. I don’t eat fast food. I don’t eat a lot of processed crap. I don’t drink soda. I don’t eat dessert. I eat healthy foods and lots of veggies, especially salads, a lot of them. One day a week I go out and eat.” He still insists that I need to eat less calories. How many calories does a freakin’ vegetable salad have? GEEZ! 

I could feel that I was about to shut down. Nearly in tears I said, “Based on what you have told me here today, if my doctor would have sent me to see a specialist 6 years and 50 pounds ago, then I would have had the surgery and be on my feet walking again like I use to.” I said, “I use to be a cross-country backpacker and now I can’t even take a short walk to the mailbox!” He said, “Well, things are different now.”

I shut down before I could tell him that I ate veggie salads, grilled chicken, tuna and soups for the better part of 3 years – between gall bladder issues and my hiatal hernia repair surgery last year – because I couldn’t eat anything else without feeling bloated or having a phantom gallbladder attack. Do you want to know how much weight I lost doing that for nearly 3 years? 15 whole freakin’ pounds. 15!! Tell me there’s not something else going on…..

I stood my ground with this doctor for a lot longer than I thought possible. My therapist advised me beforehand not to shut down. I have a tendency to do that when I feel I am not being heard. What’s the point if you’re not being heard, right? Anyway, I found myself raising my voice numerous times, talking over this so-called doctor because he kept interrupting me. I could not believe how rude and insensitive he was. I had had enough.

When he got up to leave the room, he stuck his hand out to shake my hand. Not going there, doc. I told him to just get out so I could get dressed and leave.

Afterward, which was nearly 3pm, Dad and I went out to eat. We hadn’t eaten ALL DAY but I felt so ashamed and guilty for even thinking about eating! How dare someone make another human being feel that way! I used the restroom when we got to the restaurant and I felt like I was going to throw up. This man made me feel ashamed of myself, ashamed of what I look like, ashamed of who I am. He doesn’t know me, my struggles, or anything about me.

Doctors seem to only see black and white, or what they know and what they think they know. The only doctor I have ever had that actually helped me with my weight problem was the first one who actually looked a little deeper into what might be going on. He checked my thyroid, found it extremely low, put me on meds and I lost 35 pounds fairly quickly but then I hit a plateau and I moved away and now I’m stuck with donkey doctors.

I’m done with them all. I decided in a last ditch effort, I will try NutriSystem. I’ve tried just about every other diet on the planet except for the ones you have to pay for. Couldn’t afford it, still can’t, but I have to try. I start tomorrow.

 

A Helping of Thanks with Sarcasm on the Side

I would like to thank the medical profession for not helping me in the last 10 years. I don’t know how I could possibly live my life without pain.

A special thanks to my doctor, who has been telling me for years that I am too young for knee replacement surgery. This allowed the bone damage to worsen and the pain to increase, rendering me unable to work and to become more sedentary every year. I love the ‘fat me’ that I have become due to decreased activity.

I can’t forget to thank the referral doctor for the humiliation, which is good for the soul I’ve heard. Thanks for pointing out that I am fat. I would have never known that without your ‘help.’ I really appreciate the ‘fat shaming’ because without it I would have felt good about myself that day. Oh, and please pass more thanks on to my doctor because NOW I know that 50 lbs. ago I could have had knee replacement surgery regardless of my age. I really am happy that I’ve suffered all these years so you both could make sure your bedside manners, understanding, and compassion were top notch.

Special thanks to my best friend, fondly named Michael Cane, who has been faithfully by my side for the last 4 years. Without Michael, I would have fallen more than the 4 times I did. The embarrassment of those 4 times was more than enough times to make me feel hopeless.

Of course, I can’t forget Peter Pottywho has been my constant companion during the night. It’s nice when I don’t have to walk to the bathroom at 1am, 3am, and 5am when I have to pee.

**************

In all seriousness, I am thankful to wake up every morning, albeit with pain. I am thankful for a lot of things but it sure as hell isn’t the medical care I have received in the past 10 years!!! It’s no wonder people don’t go to the doctor. It’s no wonder they don’t trust doctors! I’m in that very same line now.