I went to the pain doctor today, and had a somewhat unreal experience. In spite of preparing for the visit (I wrote down what I wanted to discuss, made a list of my new medication dosages, and printed out something to give to her, but I still stumbled through the visit like a blathering idiot. I’m not sure what it is about this particular doctor that renders me so inarticulate, but for some reason I am pretty confident and self-assured with my other doctors, but turn into a “pain patient” in front of this one.
It is no fault of this doctor. She is gentle and kind. She is unhurried and does her best to make me feel heard. But for nothing I can put my finger on, inexplicably I become dumb in her presence. It has something to do with the volatile mix of trying to seem ill enough to be taken seriously while simultaneously seeming not so sick that I don’t look like I am trying too hard and faking anything (which I am not). I need to recreate for her a sense of what my pain was like when it flared, even though it is not flaring in her office (or I wouldn’t be well enough to come to the appointment), yet still appear put together enough that she understands that I can be trusted to manage my condition and my medication (some of which are dangerous in the wrong hands and under the wrong circumstances).
Today we had a conversation that went something like this:
Doctor: So tell me what the pain in your shoulder feels like.
Me: Um, well, I think maybe I am a hypochondriac and it used to be less and now it is yogurt circus dogs dancing swingset upside down…
Okay, it wasn’t quite that bad, but my answer was almost that nonsensical, and I gave her information that was almost as useless and I have no idea why. Instead of realizing that I was getting off-topic and trying harder to nail down what I wanted to say, I just rambled farther afield, and it derailed an important issue even more. Needless to say, we didn’t address a crucial issue on this visit, and although we talked about other important things, I still feel at loose ends about what to do about this horrible pain all over my right side. Ugh.
She was checking something on my lower back and asked me, “What are these scars?” And I said, “Oh, I don’t have scars on my back. It must be marks from my skirt being wrinkled.”
Which in hindsight (meaning after I was home and had a chance to reflect) sounded kind of like when I used to be looking at crayon drawings on the wall and say to my little kids, “Who drew on the wall?” And they would say, “Nobody drew on the wall.”
Because if a doctor is looking at your back in real life and is seeing scars, it is pretty stupid to tell her that there are no scars there. But then it got worse because in a quasi-panic I started going through my mental roladex and asking her any possible thing that may have caused me to have scars: “Could it be from an epidural?” No. “How about cortisone injections?” No. So truly I have no idea what is on my back, and if it is like scars from a chainsaw attack or a ladybug bite, but apparently I have some scars that I don’t recall getting, and she suggested I ask *h to take photos of them and show them to me so I can figure out how I became disfigured without my own knowledge. It’s not like I lent out my body, right? So, in theory, this is kind of something I feel like I should be on top of, and she could tell I was coming unglued over it, so she said it wasn’t that important and we should just address the problem we were talking about, which was very rational. But I’m not a let-things-go kind of girl. So here we all are…
I asked her a bunch of questions, lots for the sake of due diligence: Does she think I could be helped by hypnosis? (No) Acupuncture? (For some things maybe a little bit.) Massage? (Um, maybe. Here I feel like she was being kind and throwing me a bone. After all, who with any compassion would tell you NOT to get a massage if they think you are asking for it? Which by the way I was not. Actually the idea of having any appointments that take me out of the house make me want to cry right now…)
She is such a sweet doctor, and I want so badly to be a star patient. I want to get better and make her proud- for the same reasons I used to be a straight-A student. I printed out one of my blog posts talking about experiencing pain, in the hope that she will understand that perspective of a patient, moreso than I can explain it to her when I am not eloquent in her office. But now I feel like dork for doing that- like a lovesick boy who writes a poem for his crush and then slips the note into her locker and regrets it afterward. It’s too late now to do anything but hope that something I wrote will resonate with her, and oh well if that isn’t the case.
All in all, I would say the appointment was not a smashing success, but it was not a colossal failure either. I am hoping for the best, and that the pieces of my medical situation will sort themselves out. I’m not sure why I get my hopes up, but I still do. I guess that’ a good thing that I haven’t given up yet, and that my doctor hasn’t given up on me. I suppose that as long as there is room for improvement I still have time left on this Earth. That should be happy news for my kids ;)
And other than that, I don’t have too much to report. As always, I hope all of you will wish me luck and keep me in your prayers.