Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It's Not Me Doc....It's YOU

My brain has a weird quirk. Okay, stop right there. You can imagine as many quirks as you want but this one needs work. I am a responsible, level headed adult who many people trust to handle very important things. I am a college graduate who understands logic is an important part of life, even if it doesn't always rule accordingly. I am a big girl and know that walking into a doctor's office is the first step to get what ails you fixed.

Sadly, there is small, yet vocal, part of my brain which believes a doctor's office is enemy territory.

And thus the weird kicks in. Intellectually, I have made myself walk into a doctor's office because I have a health problem which cannot be solved by wishing it away. I do not go often, thankfully, because I'm in good health for the most part. [The bad part would be sinus issues]. And besides who wants to pay to hear an overweight, middle aged man tell you to lose weight? I've got eyes and a mirror. Even a layperson understands that.

So what's my problem?

I have to convince my intellect that my reaction to having a blood pressure cuff strapped on should not be akin to a five year old being probed by aliens and Dr. Frankenstein.

It happened again today. Hubby lectured last night and although I very politely bit off his head with, "Could we change the subject, please?!" the truth was still there. My asthma is not currently under control and a doctor needed to intervene. And I needed to let one. So today I made myself get a "real" doctor vs. running into one of those 24 hour "Doc in a Box" places where they check your wallet first, then your medical condition.

We have a new clinic in town and I needed a doctor. I was shocked to find the place virtually empty, which made me wonder if a plague had wiped out all but the Staff. The Staff very kindly pointed out that I'd picked a rainy day at 1:00 p.m. when most folks were at work or their sniveling children were at school. Okay, they didn't add the last part. It was my observation. I filled out the requisite medical forms and sighed at how bad my handwriting has become due to my typing skills being more practiced.

After a few minutes they called me back and the humbling "Step on the scales" moment began. I was so shocked by the digital results that out of my mouth slipped, "I've lost two pounds!" When I looked at the nurse to offer an explanation, I added, "It's a start." That's when I noticed she wasn't exactly skinny either. Waiting to be hit with the clipboard I relaxed when she said, "And that's what counts!" She kindly walked me through why I was there, questioning me about just about every disease in the book as she made notes. Her pen actually hesitated above the paper when I answered NO to "smoking, drinking, drugs [legal or illegal]". I smiled and added, "Yea, I'm the only one in my family who didn't smoke, so guess who gets asthma?" She smiled.

That was a good thing, because she was reaching for mine enemy, the blood pressure cuff.

There is nothing so awful as feeling stupid. Especially when there is no reason to be worried in the first place. But for reasons I can't logically explain, when a BP cuff tightens around my arm, it makes me....angry. Always has. And up the numbers rise. So I usually say, with a smile, "Let me point out that I might make this thing explode, but I'm not going to have a stroke." The nurse always smiles, takes my pressure, the glares at me. Then taps on the machine. Then glares at me again as I feebly explain that I know my reaction to a mere machine is odd, but it's just me. Most of the time no one will take me up on taking my BP on the way OUT of the office. As I shared with her what my BP was when I took it at home [another Hubby thing..don't get me started], she looked at me in what can only politely be described as disbelief.

Then I had to deal with the Doc holding that chart, a perplexed expression on his medical face as he mentally goes over the 10,000 diseases in his head to put my name on.

Here we go, sighed the voice in my head.

The usual questions; the same answers, which are always viewed skeptically by Medical World. No, I don't smoke. Never have. No, don't drink either. I've learned to overlook the skeptical look of surprise. I fear I will one day become a one woman medical study. Step right up folks! She doesn't drink, she doesn't smoke, and ironically she has developed adult onset asthma!

The questions keep coming. No, I do not have high blood pressure, nor do I take medication for such. Yes, it is silly to have such a reaction by merely walking into a medical facility. No, I do not take drugs. In fact, my system is so sensitive I only take HALF of what is prescribed because it gives me the jitters. Yes, I am somewhat sleep deprived and it's after 2 p.m. and I haven't had lunch, but that's not the problem. My friend the nurse calls it "White Coat Syndrome"...the ridiculous impulse to feel nervous upon entering a medical facility for no damn logical reason. Doesn't happen when I'm the care giver or the support person. No, just when the patient is ME.

Worst of all, the more nervous I get, the faster I talk. Even I am yelling in my head, "Slow down you idiot before he has a drug dog sniff you!"

Doc looked at me and I began to wonder if antennae were growing out of my head. He was kind enough to play along, ordering blood work and a breathing test. He wanted to rule out a thyroid problem, which he advised often gives a person the appearance of having say....done speed or drunk 12 shots of Cuban coffee. I wanted to yell, "It's just nerves and your doubt isn't helping!" but I merely nodded.

Peggy, I tried to think of you and not grimace or wiggle when the girl took my blood.

Until she blew the vein and wanted the other arm. Sigh.

Doc came in to say I'd done well on my breathing test and didn't have a thyroid problem. I bit my tongue before my brain could add, "No duh!" We discussed, finally, the reason I'd come in: to find a controller med for my asthma, which isn't taking kindly to this weird winter weather this year. By then I'd calmed down some and didn't sound like an auctioneer on illegal drugs. He said the blood work would be done in a couple of days and he didn't expect anything bad but they'd call if something was out of whack. I envisioned him calling the Lab and asking for my blood alcohol content level. He did request that I get a chest x-ray just to have on hand should we need to compare in the future. And he'd like to see me in a month....to check my blood pressure again.

Sigh.

But then he said the one thing which made me believe he'd actually been listening while trying to find what I'd ingested to make me a babbling, quivering mass.

"You'll see on your prescription that rather than 2 puffs of these meds, I've ordered only one for you."

Victory is mine! I wanted to yell.

But then he had to add, "And this third prescription will help you sleep at night, feel calmer. You don't take aspirin do you? It's not really good for you and can raise your blood pressure."

"No Sir," I replied calmly. "We use Advil. Helps the hubby's back problems."

On the inside I was screaming at the top of my lungs, "I'll be fine just as soon as I leave here!"

I filled 2 out of 3 prescriptions, asking the Pharmacist to merely file the other one in case it proved necessary in the future. The asthma meds were necessary. I'd never heard of the other one and had a sneaking suspicion it might be for high blood pressure.

When I got home, I looked it up.

"Used to treat seizures, acute alcohol withdrawal and anxiety."

Sigh.

Sorry Doc. I don't do drugs. Even the kind prescribed with the best of intentions.

10 comments:

Susan at Stony River said...

LOL My doctor prescribed antidepressants for me telling me they'd help me with my sleep cycle. I've had bad experiences with antidepressants before, so look up *everything* and like you, ended up with a Rx I didn't fill.

But I'm glad you got out of the doctor's in one piece! I actually love going to the doctor -- he's the only one I know (offline) who listens to me.

Peggy said...

Hope;

I understand everything you are saying. I also have white coat syndrome and so does my Mom;
My blood pressure readings also are lower in my left arm then my right,(!0 points or more) but I never tell a new Dr this
No No
( I check it at home regularly)

I'm so happy to hear that you were able to get new meds. Fingers crossed that they work for you and make you feel better.

Good thing that you have two arms for the lab techs to use. If you had more, they would use them too.
I have found a lab that get's my blood with only one stick...it's nirvana !

Ponita in Real Life said...

Hope, you have 'white coat syndrome'. I see it at the hospital quite often. What you need to do is take your BP home three times a day for a week and write down the dates and times of each one. Then take that back with you to the doc when you go. And tell him that a nurse told you about white coat syndrome and thinks it may describe you.

Even people who don't consciously feel anxious can have this. So don't feel bad. It's a known thing. But do check yours, have it all written down, just to show him what you're like without the clinical anxiety. But don't take it right after you've been exercising.... that will be elevated (which is normal for activity).

And please know that although all drugs have potential side effects, they don't affect everyone. And most people have no side effects at all.

Brighid said...

Geez I hate going to the doc, too.
She always asks if I take anything, Nope! Then I get that look of disbelief, but your so health (for your age)!
As I give at the blood bank fairly often, I'm not afraid of blood pressure cuff or blood draws.

Dulce said...

This relates to my experience... yes :(

hope said...

Susan, he did listen. It was the way he kept looking at me as if I'd "Crack and confess" to something if he stared long enough. He finally gave up when I "calmly" answered his questions about Hubby's archery business.

Peggy, I could hug you! I'm the same way...left is lower. But you can't "tell" these folks anything. Maybe in time I'll convince them. Today I am several lovely shades of purple..on both arms! Thanks for your happy thoughts.

Pon, I tried telling Doc at the time that the nurse, who's come to our Center monthly for 16 YEARS, was the one who deemed me as worst case of White Coat Syndrome she'd ever seen. In fact, she would take my BP, make me sit there for 5 minutes talking to her, then re-inflate the cuff and the difference was dramatic. Like your suggestion though..thanks!

Brighid, I thought I was the only one who felt that way until one of my little ol' ladies, who doesn't go to the doctor often, huffed, "He talks. I listen. If he wants me on more than one drug, I tell him no thanks, unless I'm going to die." Maybe spunky is what keeps you going, not pills. :)

Dulce...maybe I ought to print this out and send it to him. Lots of us have bad experiences which don't make us jump up and down for joy when it comes to medicine. At least today was nice....had to get a chest x-ray to have in my file. Those folks were cheerful, kind and had me in and out of the hospital in 30 minutes flat...with no appointment! One of the lovely things about small town living.

Rachel Fox said...

My Mum has WCS too...and my Dad was a doctor...
x

Bill ~ {The Old Fart} said...

I am not too big on having to visit the Doctor either, and it is funny how they assume the worst sometimes about their patient.

And I am trying to get a hold of my doctor, I found something yesterday that needs to be looked at. I left a message for the office to call me back to make an appointment.

mapstew said...

Ant that is why I am treating my 'green stuff' with home-made remedies! :¬)

(I do have a bit of a sexy/husky voice at the moment, though my range is very limited!)

xxx

hope said...

Rachel that makes me feel infinitely better somehow. :)

Bill, hope whatever it is goes away quick. I know Docs are necessary but I'd prefer they give me a chance to explain before ordering me a rubber room. ;)

Map, as Queen of Home Medicine, I salute you. But if it gets worse, GO to a doctor! Green is a good color for say my eyes, but not for your lungs. Feel better!