Today I bring you a story from Babs Mountjoy: attorney, writer, and all too typical victim of our healthcare "system".
So after a period of fairly functional, even energetic life, I hit a wall. Two weeks so far of debilitating exhaustion that has me at two two-hour naps a day in addition to 7-8 hours sleep a night, and dragging the rest of the time. I can barely make it to court. Dragging up the steps and down. Is this an arthritis symptom I don't know about? fibro? hell, I don't know. I just need it to stop.
So I call my primary dr. What you're supposed to do, right?
She calls back (without even offering to see me) and tells me, well you probably overdid going to Pittsburgh and the museum. If you got exercise more regularly, this probably wouldn't happen.
So I call my rheumatologist. Don't get a call back in 3 days.
So a week later, still barely able to function, I call my doctor again, wanting an appointment, because something is definitely wrong. She doesn't have one until a couple weeks from now.
So I break down and go to Urgent Care. Which doesn't work well with the new insurance I had to pick because Highmark priced themselves out of the market. $80 co-pay. I was like ?!?!?!? But I'm kinda out of options.
So I pay them. Pretty frustrated by this point. When the nurse takes me back, I tell her what's going on, feeling drained and thick-headed by this point, having gone to court twice today and no time for naps. I'm in tears. She's fairly kind, and sends the doc in.
The P.A. doesn't ask any questions. He checks my ears, nose, throat, heart, etc. I tell him this is all with no virus type symptoms. Or any other symptoms. He says we'll do some blood work and see. Then he says he'll send the results to my primary doc. I'm like, you won't even tell me what they say first? He's startled, and starts to explain about what blood tests are. (I forgot to mention, I purposely left "occupation" blank. Trust me, it's not a bad idea when dealing with medical people and you're a lawyer.)
I finally get frustrated again, and tell him I have a graduate degree and he doesn't have to talk to me like I'm an idiot. The tears are coming again, and I'm trying to defuzz my brain. I know what blood tests are, and he could have said, "we'll send you to the hospital tomorrow" or something, so I knew he didn't mean right NOW. So you can't even suggest what might be going on? Doc? hmm?
He backs up. (yes. really) Almost at the door. And he says look, your exam is normal. I don't know what medicine to give you.
I just look at him.
I didn't come here for you to give me drugs. I just want to know what's wrong with me. Is it the RA? Is it fibro? What's possible? This isn't right. I'm asking for help. Please help me.
When I tell him that, he looks at me, then says he doesn't know what it is. That's why the tests. Then he crosses the line. He says, "You know, I'm thinking maybe it could be caused by anxiety. What do you think?"
Really. Anxiety. I think about laughing, and I think about punching him, and I think about crying, and then I do two of those things. I take the lab slip and I go home to bed.