Doctor Google. A necessary evil?

standard March 4, 2013 1 response

Doctor Google is evil. He just sits there and spits out terrifying answers to your inexperienced questions. He doesn’t hold your hand. He doesn’t temper his answers with caution. He just lays out facts, fact that you, or rather me, don’t really understand, without a care in the world.

Terrible bedside manner.

There’s nothing more terrifying than reading words like “loss of the eye” “surgery” “recurrence” or anything else when you don’t even know if what you’re reading comes even close to applying to your situation.

Real doctors  word drop, the internet defines them, and your brain goes bananas.

Last week I tried to imagine what it would be like to have brain surgery. How I would organize the children’s lives while I was out of commission. How I would help them navigate this new family crisis in a non traumatizing way. Then I moved on to wondering how I would be able to maintain our normal day to day lives if I lost the use of my eyes.

Then, of course, I progressed to freaking the f out about how I could go on living my life as me if I lost the use of my eyes.


I’m finally identifying as a writer.

How do you write if you can’t see?

Two hours with an Ophthalmologist and I’m pretty sure that’s not something I needed to worry about. But thanks to Doctor Google for a couple hours it was a paralyzing option. 

It must have been terrifying to live at a time when you had to rely on doctors to tell you what was going on. To have to wait to sit down with them so they could explain things in person. To never be quite sure you had the whole story.

It’s equally, if not more, terrifying to live at a time of over-information when you have to sort through pages and pages and pages of facts, thoughts, opinions that may or may not pertain to your particular case.

Let’s be honest, I have a pretty vivid imagination. My brain needs no help to come up with fanciful and terrifying scenarios. Frankly all Doctor Google ever does is give the hysterical part of my brain ammunition to tell the rational part of my brain to shut up. “Look! WebMD says it’s true! We have an eye twitch. WE MUST BE DYING!”

Having been in and out of doctors’ offices over the last two years for both Ms and my care, I know a thing or two about wanting to, and needing to, be informed. There are a lot of options out there for each and every situation. Doctors don’t always have the time to go into each permutation. Sometimes they have a favorite treatment option and they won’t even broach the subject of alternatives unless you do. It’s good, and smart, to do your own research, to come in with questions about solutions that might work well for you.

And yet, that research… it’s not for the faint of heart or the vivid imagineers of the world.

So, it’s definitely a something.

standard March 1, 2013 5 responses

Quick update for those following at home.

MRI #2 taken on Wednesday afternoon showed that ‘something’ was in fact lurking somewhere in my left eye orbit. My Internist referred me to a vision specialist where I spent the afternoon yesterday getting poked and prodded.

For the record, I LOATHE having my eyes touched. It was an unpleasant afternoon to say the least. I may have begged M to instead let me just go have a root canal. He didn’t let me. Though he did hold my hands tight for comfort and to keep me from decking the doctor as she pushed against my eye balls again, and again, and again. GAH.

The long and short of it is, yes, there is ‘something,’ but it’s not affecting my eye in any way. Perfect vision, perfect tension, perfect nerves, perfect muscles. Which I could have told her since I had this exact same exam a month ago, but whatever.

So yay.

Next step is a visit with an Oculoplastics specialist to see if anything actually needs to be done about the ‘something.’

While she was at it the ophthalmologist poopooed every one of the radiologists suggestions about what might be going on.(Big scary words like lymphoma and pseudotumor) that sent me into a panic yesterday. None of my symptoms even come close to the symptoms caused by the issues suggested.

So more yay.

I am putting yesterday’s hysteria regarding the ‘something’ on the left behind me and moving on. At the end of the month I see the neurosurgeon regarding the other ‘something’ on the right. At this point though, I’m pretty convinced that at the end of the road the docs will shrug their shoulders and say “eh, people have lumps, they don’t always do anything, here are some meds for your migraines, go run.

Then I shall lace up my shoes and bounce my way to the YMCA where I will run my little heart out. The next day, when my legs hurt and I’m whining  you can all remind me how badly I wanted to feel that pain. K?

I just want to go for a run

standard February 24, 2013 6 responses

I just want to run.

I want to read some of the motivational posters that get me so, well, motivated and then I want to lace up my shoes and just. go. run.

When the world starts to close in, when the stress starts to mount, when I start to lose sight of the big picture and get bogged down in the details and the to do list items, running is the only thing that helps.

Ironic really since I can’t run right not and the reason I can’t run is the cause of 90% of my current stress.

For the last few months every time I’ve gone for a run I’ve gotten a headache which has later turned into a bang-my-head-against-the-wall migraine.

So. Fun.

I tried everything.
I tried drinking more water. I tried drinking less water.
I tried eating protein before my run. I tried eating protein after my run.
I cut caffeine out of my life.
I tried running at different times of the day.
I tried running indoors. I tried running outdoors.
I even started seeing a chiropractor on the off chance that  it was misalignment that was causing the migraines.

Then I tried just not running for a bit. To see if I just needed a break.

Two weeks ago, after two months of letting my body rest and heal I headed back to the YMCA with a hopeful bounce in my step. I felt an actual rush as I pushed start on the treadmill. I can’t begin to tell you how great it felt to feel my legs fall into the familiar rhythm, stretching into the stride, pounding on the treadmill in time to the beat of the music plugged into my ears. I didn’t push myself hard. I just ran.

20 minutes into my run my head hurting. I got off the treadmill and headed home. I was pretty proud that I hadn’t pushed myself any harder than necessary. I was proud that I’d been careful about how I held my body, how much water I was drinking, how I’d monitored my heart rate.

I felt good. The endorphin high carried me to my car and I texted a rather chipper “I was so wrong, running is worth any headache in the world!” to my sister.

Five hours later as my head pounded and my stomach roiled I was eating my words.

Running is awesome and worthwhile when it clears out stress and cobwebs. It becomes less so when it torpedoes any work productivity for the rest of the day.

So I gave in to family pressure and asked my doctor to re-order the MRI the insurance had denied back in November. And I went.

I thought for sure they’d say “Nope, nothing there. Say? Have you tried drinking more water while you run? Or seeing a chiropractor? Maybe you need new running shoes!” Because, you know, that’s what people say when you complain running gives you a headache.

Who was I kidding?

Instead the doctor called and told me they’d found two lesions on my brain. Probably nothing, but still, to be safe, I need a follow-up MRI with contrast and just for shits and giggles a visit with a neurosurgeon.

How fortuitous that we have a neurosurgeon on speed-dial that we know and trust.

Or, you know, how incredibly craptacular that in the space of two years two of us have had cause to actually see a neurosurgeon. Depends on how you want to see it I guess.

So, this week, I need to rework the ending of my novel because my editor has pinpointed what seems to be wrong with it. I need to do all my usual mommy things. I need to work on my new novel. I need to attend the meetings that have been set for weeks. I need to worry about my dad. I need to read my book club book and find smart things to say about it. And I need to get my brain scanned again so we can see if I need brain surgery.

And really? All I want to do is go for a run.

But I can’t.


He’s not just another patient, he’s our dad

standard January 25, 2013 4 responses

To them he’s just a man, a little old man, in a bed. He’s no different than any of the other men in beds on their floor. He’s wearing the same gown, has the same tubes, has the same machines beeping behind him. To them he’s just another patient.

To us he’s our dad. He’s a sailor, a writer, a lover of fine wines and great food. He’s a critic, of everything. He’s a passionate learner and explainer. He’s one of the smartest people we know.

To them he’s “agitated,” challenging, resisting instruction and care. To them, he’s a bit of a nuisance, it’s written all over their faces, someone who should be silenced with a push of a narcotic pump and a quick pat on the arm before they walk away to tend to something less irritating.

To us he’s a man who’s always been in control, in charge, who knows exactly what he wants and when, who has done years of research before submitting himself to their care, who knows how things should be going and hates how they’re progressing. He has been temporarily stripped of the ability to advocate for himself, to speak easily, to argue discuss options with the doctors, to get up and walk away when he’s had enough. He is frustrated, angry, and just plain scared.

To them he’s a man badly in need of a haircut, whose hands shake a bit too much to hold a pencil, who gets confused at times, who can’t get out of bed without help.

We see the man they can’t see, the one who has sailed all over the world, who speaks multiple languages, who has a full library in his tiny apartment, who can’t wait to get better so he can finally travel again.

To them he’s just another lung transplant patient who has spent the last 7 weeks bouncing back and forth between different levels of ICU, getting endless tests, perplexing the transplant team with his various complications, befuddling the nurses with his commentary.

To us he’s our dad, finally breathing without assistance for the first time in  years, finally ready to resume living his life, just as soon as he can get out of that bed and back into the world where he’s more than just a statistic, more than just another patient.