I can be really stubborn when I want to, and it quite often gets me into trouble.
I have been dealing with left flank pain for about 10 days and both Kay and Hubby have been on me to go see about it. My family doctor is a 45 minute drive away over a busy bridge and I am not up to driving it myself. Hubby is working and I would have to make an “emergency” appointment that would fit into his mornings. I have been really turned off by how I am treated at the hospitals because of my history of mental illness and chronic pain.
I have not been treated for bipolar or depression for a very long time either at a hospital or a doctor’s office. I think I saw my psychiatrist for the first time in four years in the summer of 2012 and haven’t been back since. And that was just to touch base because of the challenges I was going through at the time – my father’s passing and dealing with increased pain issues. However, when I go to the hospital they always ask me what I am taking valproic acid for. It is used for seizures mostly, though it has been effective for me as a mood stabilizer since I went toxic on lithium. I take a very small dose for maintenance of my moods. I have also recently heard that it can be used for migraines. Some doctors just have to hear “Bipolar” and they don’t hear anything else.
The other stigma I live with and gets in the way of being diagnosed properly at a hospital is my chronic pain. I have been to pain clinics and have lived with chronic pain for over 20 years. I know the difference between chronic and acute pain. I don’t go to the hospital for anything chronic because there is nothing they can do. I have my coping tools and medications and deal with it the best I can.
However, if I just happen to wince or cry out during an examination because they hit a muscle, joint or nerve that is chronic, they will send me on my way saying it is just that and they can’t treat it. The other problem here is that I am so good at managing chronic pain that I don’t react enough to show the doctors my acute pain. I sat in a hard ER waiting room chair for over 6 hours once because I was quiet (my reaction to pain) and not vocalizing it. When I finally saw the doctor and he did a CT scan he told them to get me a bed ASAP because I had a lodged kidney stone! He pumped me full of morphine for the night and I was operated on the next morning.
So, last night my two guardian angels were telling me that if I wanted to go see about it we should do it sooner than later so it wasn’t too busy. Our ER is one of the busiest in North America! I ended up agreeing that I should get looked at so the decision was that Hubby would drive Kay and I and then go back home because he was off with a cold/flu and a hospital isn’t the place you want to go or you will get even sicker! LOL! Kay stayed with me in case I needed someone to help me describe my symptoms, and for company.
Well, to my surprise, I was put through the system very quickly and once I was in an examination cubicle I wasn’t sent back to the waiting room so I was somewhat more comfortable. The triage nurse came in and didn’t question the valproic acid except to make sure I wasn’t prone to seizures. Then a short time later, a very friendly face came in to say she was my nurse for as long as I was there and brought me a nice warm blanket. One of my tests had to be redone because they lost it and she was very apologetic. The doctor was also very empathetic to my pain and suggested that it could very well be a kidney infection but they were waiting for the results of the replaced test. This was my diagnosis as well as I have had many of them. I was sure it wasn’t a stone or a bladder infection…maybe I should have been a doctor!
So, I finally got some pain medication, a prescription for antibiotic and was on my way home in 3 hours! I have been there for over 9 with nothing done at all. This has returned some faith in the medical system. It has also made me realize that a lot of it is my own attitude. If I get frustrated and/or defensive, I have a bad experience.
This is furthering my belief that often we fuel the stigma against us with the fear we feel because of it. I am not saying stigma isn’t real – it is VERY real. However, if we can rise above it and be confident in who we are no matter what our challenges may be, others will see that strength and look at us in a more positive light.