Because We Don’t Talk About Such Things…

yes, this gets a little personal. i’ve left out some of the gory details, but we need to talk about this kind of stuff.

a month ago i went to the ER. the doctor scoffed at me and told me to take a laxative. well, sir, of COURSE i’m constipated. if you had done more than just tap on my belly, maybe you would have figured out why! it’s not enough to just rule out appendicitis. i ended up able to go the next morning, so i kind of brushed it off.   . . . except i kept having this pain in my belly after eating. i could literally feel the food trying to make its way through my system. O_o

one month & a $600 medical bill later, i went back to the hospital, after i was awoken from awesome sleep by a most excruciating pain. i tried to wait it out, but to no avail. not even a bm alleviated the pain – i could hardly walk! fortunately, when i made my way over to the neighbors’, they were on their way to campus & were happy to drop me off at urgent care.

doc #1 – reads a list of questions at me. almost no critical thinking at all. i do not remember her name; i only remember thinking she couldn’t possibly be older than 12. yes, m’dear, it is painfully obvious that you’re a (brand new) resident.

doc #2 – performs belly & pelvic exam. is concerned that i also feel pain with cervical movement, but wants to make sure my appendix doesn’t explode. they can’t get a CT in urgent care b/c the staff isn’t around, so -despite my attempt to avoid the ER, as directed by student insurance – i have to go to the ER. you can read the story of my story in my ER Trip #2 post.

sunday – oh…


monday – doc #5 (meghan something or other) calls me to make sure i know about my appt on friday. of course, i don’t. she gives me the details, then drops nugget that goes a little sum’n like this:

tuesday – manage to email student health coordinator & schedule an appointment for weds morning w/ student health doc so that i can get my referrals.

wednesday – after getting my referrals & checking over a few things w/ student health, i go in for an ultrasound. the tech (terry) is very nice, but seems to be quite distracted by my barrage of questions. i determine that ultrasounds are messages from an alien planet and one must be implanted with a special chip in order to be able to read them.

today (friday, one week after ER trip #2) – visit to doc #6 (dr. mehta) doesn’t start off so well…

but we got that straightened out. doc says my story is consistent with endometriosis. as that link will show you, this is a condition commonly linked with hypothyroidism, which i’ve been trying to get tested for since february. but the GYN i saw in maryland was of no help (i half wondered if she even knew what the thyroid is for) and the doctors at the free clinic refuse to help to me.

we’re a resource-limited clinic. your numbers are within the normal range; we’re not gonna go chasing down a diagnosis that probably doesn’t even exist. ~dr. g(ican’tspelltherest)

[dr. g is the 2nd dr. i saw at the clinic; i demanded a switch when i discovered that my first dr. (dr. dunn) didn’t test for everything i asked for. i haven’t tried at the university hospital; i’ve been warned that the costs are astronomical.]

back to today – dr. mehta says i need surgery. “we could wait & watch it for 6-8 weeks, but i know you’re in pain and considering your family history*, it doesn’t make sense to wait. i’m all booked up through march, but let me see what i can do.” O_O * my grandmother died of a bowel obstruction. at age 33. it makes no sense. unless it was this. 

me: soooo… what does this mean for… everything?
dr. mehta: well, you’ll still be fully functional. we’re going to try to leave everything we can, but even if we end up having to take out an ovary, you’ll still have the one.
me: …the one that won’t have a tube.
dr. mehta: right.
me: so either way, this means i’ll only have periods every other month?
dr. mehta: no, no; you’ll still ovulate & have periods and all.
me: but where does the egg go if there’s no tube?!
dr. mehta: well, we think it kinda just hangs out over in this area… some people think it may even move around over here to this tube.
me: soooo… basically it gets lost.
dr. mehta: right.
me: oh… so what about babies?
dr. mehta: well, that can be incredibly challenging…
me: O_O
dr. mehta: you can try on your own. some women do that. others go for fertility treatments. it really just depends on which camp you fall in.
me: listen, i have a horrible enough time with my periods, i’m really not interested in IVF. and besides, the costs are prohibitive.
dr. mehta: i understand… either way, you’ll want to start trying sooner rather than later, because in a few years… *shrugs uncomfortably* as for the long term, the course is generally hormonal treatment. usually that’s birth control, but since that hasn’t worked for you, we’ll sort out something else.
me: ( ._.)

so this is what’s (likely) going on with my plumbing (peep my editing skills)… i say likely b/c of two things:
1) dr. mehta hasn’t even seen my films. why? well, she was the only doctor in the entire hospital today. ‘cuz it’s a holiday weekend. nobody thought it wise to make sure the films were part of my record before my appointment. O_o
2) even if the doc had seen my films, with endo, there’s no real way to tell the depth of the problem except for surgery. ‘cuz you can’t see blood on these films (they’d be ineffective if they could detect blood, since it’s everywhere). this is also apparently part of the reason why nobody’s bothered to pursue my concerns – even with surgery, the response is the same. also O_o

dr. mehta says recovery could take 2 weeks or 6 weeks. it depends on whether she’s able to take care of everything laparoscopically. if, however, she ends up having to make a larger incision, my recovery will be six weeks. so, a) if surgery is scheduled late in the month, but can be done laparoscopically, i’ll miss the beginning of school. or b) regardless of when surgery is scheduled, if dr. mehta has to go all in, i’ll miss at least the beginning of school. either way, i will need to take the quarter off. i’m not making any decisions just yet, but someone remind me to check on insurance eligibility during a medical leave of absence. so yeah… i’m going home for a second opinion, if possible. and mama j will be here for my surgery.

fortunately (or not), no matter what you’re going through, someone else has been there before. i am very grateful to camille reed for encouraging me & sharing her experience dealing w/ this same condition. she told me that any doctor worth their salt can take care of this laparoscopically. she also encouraged me to take the quarter off, regardless, so that i can spend the time getting healed (again with the insurance). finally, she said, “if you’re thinking about having babies, do it now.” (to which i responded, “oh…” camille has actually been helping me try to get this thyroid thing sorted out from the beginning. there’s nothing like the support of your own community, i tell you what. (by the way, if you’re in the DMV area, please check out her shop, Noire Salon. It’s on GA Ave near the DC/MD line.)

i don’t know what people who don’t have somebody who has some knowledge to help them – what do they do? -mama j

that’s a good-ass question, mama j. but we don’t talk about such things, so…

before i go, though, i have a message for the medial professionals out there:

we patients are the experts on our own bodies. we KNOW when something is wrong. and many of us will perform due diligence to educate ourselves on what to do before we even come to you. but our own knowledge and research can only take us so far. it’s YOUR job to meet us & guide us the rest of the way. let’s work this out. namaste.

UPDATE: fyi, here’s the pamphlet dr. mehta gave me on endometriosis. it describes the disorder in more detail than the article i linked above (i chose that one to make a point). i’m really not sure how i feel about the pamphlet. it makes the condition sounds both more and less hopeful than my conversation with the doctor. :-/   . . . i also just noticed that it’s almost 11 years old. *blink*

UPDATE: so i just did some bg research on dr. mehta. her specialties? general ob/gyn & pediatric/adolescent gynecology. not endometriosis, not anything focusing on disorders at all. oh… no thank you.






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