Friday, March 12, 2010

The Patient is presenting with Rock Candy (?)

I am not normally a hypochondriac. I refuse to believe that I am capable of contracting any type of illness...that is, until, I actually GET sick.

I don't have a "Physical "doctor, per say. Rather, I am a frequent patient of "WebMd". (afterall, my obgyn was sick of writing my scripts for shit that had nothing to do with my lady parts) Most illness, anyway, are viral, and require no course of antibiotic. (I learned that on the Internet, as well). So why should I give my HMO the benefit of my $20 copay?

I'll tell you why. Because over the past several years I have diagnosed myself with Lupus at least a dozen times.

I don't know if you are aware, but Lupus is a very serious disease...a disease, however, that presents with just about every symptom you can come up with. There is a web site with what they call a symptom checker:

- fever, weight loss, fatigue? Lupus
- No fever, weight gain, energy? Lupus
- yellowing of the eyes, cough, runny nose, upset stomach diarrhea - Lupus

See my point? Normally, this would not be such a big deal....except for the last diagnosis. I was sick....really sick. Falling asleep at my desk. Unable to concentrate, vomiting. I would come home and literally crawl up my stairs to my bed every night....I would lay there, in the dark, and imagine how lucky normal people go out and live their lives while I was lying here, in my bed, day in and day out. Unable to care for my children....dying of Lupus.

It got to the point where I had to find a "real" doctor. This proved very difficult for me. I had very specific guidelines as to who I would take on as my physician ( which I will not reveal as would make me seem like a sexist racist)

After approximately one week of searching, I found a Dr. that met 2 out of my 3 criteria. Upon my visit, I explained to her that I had Lupus. She put her hand on my shoulder and apologized, told me that they would get me on the proper course of treatment, and asked why I was switching physicians.

"oh, well, my ...umm, current physician cannot really help me anymore...I mean, I cant really get medicine or anything...."

She seemed confused. "well, what was your doctors name?"

"web blah blah" I muddled under my breath.

"What? I am sorry...I didn't hear you "

"WEBMD" I blurted.

"Jennifer, how do you know you have Lupus?"

"Oh, I presented all the symptom in the self diagnosis chart"

She proceeded to give me the full work up. (i think she sneakily threw in some psych eval questions in there) She stated that my concerns were valid and admitted I didn't look well. I was gray, weak, and was experience weight gain...which, by the way, lead also to the second disease of hypothyroidism.

She sent me for a battery of blood work and an xray to check my crippling spine disease as well.

After about a week, I called the office. They explained that my test came back and I did NOT have Lupus, nor a thyroid condition.

That's weird. I was going to write a strongly worded letter to WEBMD, that's for damn sure. I may even pursue legal action. Diagnosing a person with a life threatening disease....I could at the very least, seek damages for pain and suffering.

Anyhoo, back to the drawing board. And my new I continued the search for what could possible be wrong with me.

I remember as if it were yesterday...sitting on my front porch. Coffee in one hand, cigarette in the other. at my fingertips. It was a beautiful September day. The sound of the neighborhood children frolicking in the distance, and I, trying to soak up the beautifulness of the moment as I am dying of...well...something.

Then, the turning point, the climax, if you will. There was an itch in my bra. I thought perhaps there was a popcorn kernel stuck in my A cup, as was often the case. I went to fetch it out only to realize there was no popcorn at all...but rather, what appeared to be ..rock candy? But how would rock candy get in my bra? It wouldn't...unless my body was PRODUCING rock candy.

"No, stupid. Think. Think...use your expertise in self recognition of body idiosyncrasies...what would the narrator of TLC's "Medical Incredible" say?? " What could my body possibly be producing if not candy. (Although, for one brief moment, I thought of what my life could become if i COULD produce rock candy...I'd be Ripleys book even. Sorry. Off track.

I quickly got my googling fingers typing. Lo and behold....this couldn't be. Breast milk? That's weird. (the dried breast milk had a crystallized effect, in case you didn't figure that one out) I went back to Lupus and to my utmost surprise, breast milk was NOT a symptom. Hmm...if its not a symptom of lupus,..than..oh no. shit. no.

As quickly as I could grab my keys I ran to Walgreens. I naturally made a stop at Benjamin Moore, but all the colors were fusing together as I looked at can imagine...given the mild stroke/aneurysm/seizure I was having. (the next law after texting while driving, is driving under the influence of an HPT)

Longer story long, and we all know what happened next, I ended up writing that 2 out of 3 doctor a strongly worded letter, as well as the intrauterine device corporation.

My work colleagues, who suffered through my Lupus woes with me day in and day out were shocked to here my news.

"People, If I could have minute of your time. I have been out ill a couple of days. The good news is...I don't have lupus. The bad news is....I don't have lupus. "

This followed with the reveal of a three month old fetal sonogram photo waving....or giving me the finger....we still aren't sure.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Gag Me With a Spoon...

this post is rated PG-13 for graphic content. Keep a bucket handy.....

Ok, maybe not a spoon...unless it is covered in something smelly, or offensive in any way...and I look at it, or touch it, or smell it, or think about it...or...well, you get the point.

Any one who knows me, knows that I have the propensity to gag, dry heave, or otherwise throw up at the slightest thing. I have coined the word "vomituous" (adj. Vom - it - chu -ous)

Things that most people think may be "gross", I find utterly debilitating in a way that my stomach loses all control, and my throat begins a series of noises that one might expect to hear only from your clunker vehicle which has a faulty strut mount with a frozen bearing. (i threw that in to impress the guys).

This post will legitimately prove to be one of the hardest things I will do...for to get through it, I will need to NOT vomit on my computer keyboard whilst describing certain situations.

I'm not really sure when I became afflicted with this disease (ok, its not a disease...but it should be). When I was a kid, I involved myself with some pretty disgusting stuff. I dissected a frog on my tennis court. My dog would frequently leave dead groundhogs in the yard...I would take a stick, and examine it...the more flesh wounds the better...I would pick grape sized ticks off my dog, and stomp on eyes are tearing up....

Sometime as a teenager, the gag reflex set in....not the kind that precludes me from brushing my tongue, or getting dental work, but the stomach to throat kind.

I remember being in the parking lot of a Dunkin Donuts. As I went to open the door, I stepped in spit.....I instantaneously began throwing up in the parking lot.....That was the beginning.

As I grew older, it only got worse. The simple mentioning of anything gross would start the process....

1. I hold my hand up and advise you to "stop" what it is you are saying, do, etc.
2 My hand goes over my mouth and I begin breathing similar to the lamaze method
3. My eyes begin to tear
4. I repeat "ok, ok, ok"

lastly, will either will it to pass, or begin the dry heaving. Either way, and for some odd reason, the ritual results in extreme joy to any witness. For some odd reason, those I associate with find my angst humorous. For example, when we first moved into our neighborhood, it took the neighborhood children no time at all to try and bait me with dog poop just to see me, an adult woman and mother, throw up on my lawn.

Most people ask how it is that I am able to take care of my babies with my disorder. God granted me the ability to clean dirty diapers. (of my own kids, not anyone elses) However, it stops there. I cannot do vomit, or boogers. Wiping an older child is a horrific torture that could ever be bestowed upon me. The worst experience I call recall was not quite one year ago. As i bent my daughter forward, who was sitting on the toilet, to wipe her, one of the worst gag episodes came upon me. I, for the most part, had learned to control the traveling up and out of my meals, I could not this time.

I instructed her to bend and tuck and to inch forward toward the front of the seat...I then proceeded to vomit behind her....just missing her back....with a unprecedented precision. As you can imagine, this was extremely traumatizing to her. Instead of apologizing for my actions, I did what any good therapist mother would do...i told her it was her own fault for not learning, or refusing to wipe at the age of 6. I have not had to wipe a "grown" child since. (sometimes the ends justifies the means..whether intentional or not).

It is also very difficult having animals. Even the best of pets will have accidents. If any of you have a dog, you will know that dog poop, even the smallest of it, will release an odor that has the ability to permeate a 20,000 sq ft., closed in area. As such, it is not something that I am able to cover with a paper towel...and leave. (you see, this is what I do to any kind of animal vomit...I cover it with a bunch of paper towels and avoid the area until Dave comes home).

One of the worst, and when it was most inopportune, when I was at work, auditing some files. I had just come back from grabbing lunch at Mcdonanlds. I sat at the conference table, and unwrapped my burger. I usually look at each bite. On bite #3, I noticed what you would think would be the LAST thing you would want to find on your food...yes, the dreaded my quick as the speed of light, I grabbed the waste paper basket and released the previously eaten burger and fries.....)totally skipping steps #4 from above. I would NEVER order from that (now closed) restaurant. ugh.

There are a myriad of subject matter that cause the vomituous behavior and include, but are not limited to :

Other peoples vomit, mucus of any kind, animal and people feces, rotten food, farts, bathroom odors, bad breath, pubes off the body, excessive coughing whereas I can hear juicy lungs, etc.

I cannot even repeat a disgusting story without gagging. Mostly everyone knows to avoid all of these types of things, however, there is always that one person in the group who has no idea, and proceeds to tell the story of how they had to tell their dental hygienist she had a huge bugger in her nose (you know who you are!). (umm..shouldn't she have been wearing a mask, anyway??) Luckily, there is also at least one person who DOES know, and warns the unsuspecting victim of my weak stomach.

So, if you are one of the lucky ones to have not had the privilege of witnessing the spectacle of the "gag and heave", I am sure it is only a matter of time before I am thrust into a room with green nosed children in front of you, and I apologize in advance. And if we shall never meet, consider yourself lucky.