Sunday, May 15, 2011

Leaps & Bounds

dI finally managed to appease both my health insurance and myself in selecting a doctor as my primary physician. I've been covered for a few months now, but the primary physician I originally chose stopped using Blue Cross. Without informing me. So when I called to set up my first appointment I discovered I had to hunt down a new doctor first. I had chosen a well reputed medical center nearby originally, so I was a little let-down that I had to go elsewhere. Who knows where my next doctor would be?

I called Blue Cross for advice and they gave me the names of three doctors in my area I could look into. Aaron did a little research and we chose one right around the corner who had the highest approval rating. A Russian practice, where everyone on the staff is bilingual. Even closer than my original choice had been. I called Blue Cross back and told them my choice and then called the new doctor and set up my first appointment.

I had been seeing doctors for my various health problems back in Ohio for some 12 years and barely made any progress. So I really wasn't expecting much. I was diagnosed with several conditions said to be not only incurable, but also untreatable. One of my conditions, lovingly now referred to as The Oblivion Gate, they couldn't even manage to diagnose other than, "Holy crap this could have killed you but we don't know what it is or why it is happening!" The only things they were actually treating were my asthma and my narcolepsy.

While in the waiting room at my new doctor I was anticipating much of the same. Test after test after test with no useful help being administered whatsoever. I was anticipating being treated as an income rather than a person. When my doctor walked in, matching her stethoscope to her turquoise jewelry I was a little intrigued. Just at first sight she had more personality than all of my previous doctors combined.

She sat down and listened to what I had to say and seemed genuinely interested in my myriad of problems and past diagnosis, avidly taking notes as I spoke. When I'm through she asks me questions about what I had said to make certain she'd gotten it all down accurately and then has me sit on the exam table. There she examines me, specifically interested in the neuropathy in my hands and feet that cause intolerable coldness or numbness. Constantly.

I had never had my hands and feet physically inspected in such a way. I had terribly painful tests where they stuck me with hundreds of electrified needles, which determined the neuropathy in the first place, but never much attention paid to my actual hands and feet. My pulse in those areas had never been checked, my nail beds had never been examined, and the temperature of my hands and feet had never been seriously considered. Since Ohio is a chilly place, cold feet was always over-looked as environmental. Even when I protested that they are cold all of the time -- even after an hour in a hot shower.

Therefor I was surprised, pleasantly, when my doctor touched my feet and instantly inquired, "Are your feet always this cold?!" Yes, yes they are. Thank you for noticing. No one else has seemed to care.

She scheduled me for some blood work, five vials worth, and a few other tests then did something truly remarkable. She wrote me a prescription for my untreated hiatus hernia and my neuropathy. While I knew there was treatment available for my hernia, a prescription to ease the terrible sensation of coldness in my feet was news to me. I wasn't aware such a medicine existed! Never in my time spent waiting around in Ohio was this even suggested to me as a possibility. There it was more or less, "You have a neuropathy. Sucks to be you."

I was excited and too grateful to even know what to do with myself. The thought of prostrating before her occurred to me but seemed a little crazy. I wasn't even certain this medication would work. Yet just knowing such things existed made me hopeful. More-so than I have been in years. In one sitting I made more progress medically, it felt, than in my entire stay in Ohio.

Today is day three of medication and I haven't noticed too much of a difference in my hands and feet yet, though I do seem to sleep more soundly at night. The side effects are a little concerning, or rather, the possibility of side effects. They're not the typical fare for new drugs, like stomach upset, dizziness, etc., etc. No, these are such things as amnesia, suicide, radical mood swings, double vision... insane things. I have been lucky so far, having only experienced a little double vision the first day and some unfounded aggravation on day two and intermittent memory loss. Hopefully that'll be the worst of it.

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