May 12th, 2010


Off to the neck doc today

My doc told me about the MRI report--I have bulging discs in my neck and arthritis (the arthritis I'd heard about from an x-ray previously). I hope all it needs to stop my arm pain is a shot because from what I've read, no one surgery is standard yet and the results are not always good.

I was reading about arthritis of the neck and one cause is listed as "blows to the head." Ah, domestic violence, the gift that keeps on giving.

I'd really like to give my ex a bulging disc in his neck right about now.

We have to hide from our doctors, too?

My appointment today was alarming. Apparently I made the mistake of thinking that doctors are more educated about depression than members of the general public.

My depression and former suicide attempts are part of my medical history, and as such are on the written medical history I include with my new paperwork for any new doc I see. It saves me a lot of form-filling-out time. Besides, once a medical history gets complicated, who can remember all that stuff? Not me, not anymore.

Somewhere in our conversation about the procedure this new specialist can offer (cortisone injection in my neck to relieve inflammation) he was basically checking with me about whether I was sure this was the route I wanted to take. I said I had to try because I couldn't bear this level of pain anymore and it was worsening my depression and causing me to become more suicidal.

This sent him into a tailspin. Suddenly he didn't want to do the procedure "because it might not work or it might make your pain worse, and it would be irresponsible of me to do a procedure if the increased pain causes you to kill yourself." [I restrained myself from reversing his argument...I don't want to use this like a weapon. That's not at all where I was coming from.]

I said, "No one else but me is responsible if I ever commit suicide."

He disagreed and continued to argue that he couldn't be responsible for taking an action that could make things worse and cause my suicide. He was talking about referring me to Stanford. I knew this would mean a further delay in getting treatment and I've already waited since February, jumping through my doctor's hoops.

We went 'round and 'round for a bit and I finally said, "Well, you could convene a medical ethics board and have the group make a recommendation, couldn't you?" (They do this on TV all the time for these thorny ethical [and legal liability] issues.)

I couldn't believe I was in the position of virtually begging for a procedure that I dreaded but had accepted as a necessary step towards getting my pain to a tolerable level. Really?

Finally, after I did quite a bit of care-taking of my young, freaked out doctor and convinced him that I had a support network, a therapist, a doctor, a husband, and so on, he came around. By the time I left he was reassured that "you don't seem like you're seriously depressed."

Yeah, dude, I can pass. Where's my Oscar?

So what, am I supposed to hide a very important part of my medical history and how different other parts of my diagnosis impact it? Just because you haven't had sufficient training, don't make ME take care of YOU or feel bad that I have depression or like I have to HIDE it. (My heart history freaked him out too. He was all worried about whether my cardiologist would sign off on a week without aspirin.)

I know he meant well--but the road to hell is paved with good intentions.