Wednesday, August 09, 2006


It took me many, many years to learn how to ask for help. I trust very few people, and am self-reliant to a fault. So this month when I found myself in extreme pain day after day and I went to get medical help, it was more challenging than I expected. I have a doctor. I have insurance. I have a flexible schedule. I picked up the phone.

There were the multiple times I was disconnected or transferred incorrectly on the phone at key moments of extreme pain. There were the times I called while the office was out to lunch. There was the getting a message to the doctor while she was in the middle of seeing other patients. There was the getting the message to the doctor while she was in the middle of seeing other patients and was the only doctor in the entire department in that day.

There was the tests they scheduled at 6:30am and explained that the room really didn't warm up until about 11:00am. There was the extreme pain and fever that required a trip to the ER that lasted from 5:30pm to 2:30am. There were six vials of blood tested, two hospital arm bracelets, and six different people who poked my stomach and asked how that felt. (Oh lovely. Do it again. I think that might be an 9, not a 7 on the pain scale. Let's do it again to be sure.)

What did I learn?

If you are in pain, you must ask and ask and ask and insist and be totally reasonable at all times even when you are frustrated. If you hear a part of you scream"No one is going to help me!!" kick its ass.

If you are an online research junkie, you must remember at all times that interpreting medical systems is something that requires many years of school and professional practice. If your pulse begins to quicken while reading too much medical jargon, go watch television or something equally lobotomizing.

Let your partner and your friends be supportive. They want to be. And it helps you. Get over it.

No one reads. Be prepared with a symptomatic soliloquy you can deliver over and over. And over and over.

Doctors do like to look at test results and charts and they can obtain test results from partner hospitals in a flash.

People are patient with you if you explain that you think you might be panicking a little instead of throwing a fit.

Hospitals have cozy heated blankets if you are cold and you tell them.

Just because your friends or loved ones have died does not mean you are about to die.

Some hospitals still use pneumatic tube systems.

There is nothing you can do to speed up your ER visit besides worsening your condition or arriving in an ambulance.

Sometimes ER nurses and doctors are just as attractive and attentive as TV ER doctors.

No matter how successful you are at asking for help, if it turns out you have a ruptured ovarian cyst, it will hurt like a motherfucker for weeks. ("So basically a bubble bursting can cause this much pain for that long?!" I asked my doctor who started laughing. "A bubble!? Well, consider an aneurysm," she said. She has a point.)



At 8:17 AM, Anonymous david b said...

hey, was this the cause of the pain then? well thank god!


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