Today I had a doctor appointment. Since I started blogging, I haven’t posted much about our doctor appointments but I think I should start, as they are part of our chronic pain journey which is what this blog is really about. It wasn’t exactly the way that I had planned on spending my day off, but since Veteran’s Day is a holiday where mainly only government employees are off work and I’m desperately trying to miss as little work as possible, I decided to schedule an appointment today.
This appointment was not for one of my usual ailments, but it was related to pain: stomach pain. For the past few months, I have had symptoms that I have assumed were that of a stomach ulcer. I have been experiencing a burning, gnawing, and sometimes piercing pain in my stomach, which worsens at night and shortly after eating. I have also been steadily losing weight. Since the onset of my 2nd source of chronic pain (facial pain), I have lost nearly 40 pounds. Quite a bit of that has been this year. For example, I have lost 5 pounds this week alone! Needless to say, this has been troubling me.
At this point in my life, it is safe to say that I HATE going to the doctor. I lost faith in the medical community long ago and it’s probably safe to say that the feeling is mutual (with the exception of my Mom, who is a wonderful nurse and my pain specialist, who seems to genuinely care and tries to help improve my quality of life as much as she can, while jumping through endless hoops and red tape, courtesy of ineffective and inhumane DEA regulations and the failed “War on Drugs”, which is another topic that I feel VERY strongly about, worthy of its own future blog post or possibly several). I feel like the medical community has given up on me. I guess that could be considered a natural response for someone whose symptoms were discounted for 15 years prior to being diagnosed with Endometriosis.
Even after having been to hundreds of doctor appointments over the years, I still get extremely nervous and my anxiety spirals out of control every time I have to go. My heart rate is usually between 120-140 bpm at every appointment. This one was no exception. The medical student who accompanied my PCP today actually noticed my anxiety and how I manifest it physically, this time with the tell-tale sign of an embarrassing red rash all over my chest, neck, and ears. She was very thorough and observant. I sort of wished she could be my new doctor permanently. She asked me 101 questions and pressed around on my stomach and abdomen, where she could actually feel my abdominal/pelvic adhesions and scar tissue from Endometriosis and prior surgeries and she felt them from simply pressing on the outside of my body! WOW! I was impressed to say the least.
During our conversation and my answering of all of her questions, I sort of felt like we got off topic and in the end both she and my PCP seemed to be more focused on my Endometriosis symptoms than my stomach ulcer symptoms, which was both unexpected and frustrating. In a way it was shocking but also kind of nice to have someone acknowledge the severity of my Endo symptoms, but at the same time, I already know the cause of them, have a diagnosis, and am more than aware of my treatment options (or lack thereof). My doctor did ask if my symptoms felt like they could be related to my gall bladder but I told him I had no idea. He said that with an ulcer, patients often find relief after eating and because I had indicated that my pain worsened after meals, he wasn’t confident that a stomach ulcer is what I have.
In the end, they gave me some samples of a new stomach medication called Dexilant, which I’m a little scared to try after reading the insanely disturbing side-effects and adverse reactions in the accompanying patient information leaflet. They also ordered a bunch of blood work and scheduled an abdominal CT scan for later this week. The last part completely threw me for a loop. What in the world do they expect a CT scan to show?!?!
I am no doctor but I have worked in the medical field in a few different capacities (former CNA, medical records clerk, medical transcriptionist, and medical secretary), I’m the daughter of a nurse, and as a patient with multiple chronic illnesses, I have done A LOT of medical research on my own and know my fair share about certain things. I DON’T know what they are looking for but I DO know that an $800 CT scan will not be able to detect a stomach ulcer, any new or remaining Endometriosis or pelvic adhesions. So what is the reason for this expensive procedure, which will expose me to even more radiation than I’ve already endured with the dozens of x-rays and CT scans that I’ve had over the past 2 years? Your guess is as good as mine.
I wasn’t even sure I would keep the appointment until the cashier who checked me out reassured me that she would arrange for me to only pay for part of my co-pay on Thursday, if I couldn’t afford the whole thing (which I definitely CANNOT). Also, when I discussed it with my husband this evening, he reminded me that God works in mysterious ways and maybe there is a reason that I need to have this test done. He could be right so I think I will do it. I will post an update when I get the results.
❤ Hope you are all having a low pain level day. ❤