Monday, October 21, 2013

Finding Answers to Medical Questions

Today is a grand time to live for many, many reasons.  Just a few of them are:

1.  More knowledge about our bodies and the thousands of things that they need to do to produce health.

2.  Better medications and treatments for most diseases.

3.  Access to a plethora of information at the touch of a computer keystroke.

4.  Better ability to meet and greet beloved friends that otherwise tend to fall by the way side in the activities of life.

I want to rant today about the medical world.  Our oldest daughter was below average in size as a child.  She wasn't small, but slightly smaller than average in height, and weight.  Then the hormones began to kick in that turned her from child into woman.

It was startling when she began to gain large amounts of weight.  She was NOT eating any more than usual, and she was always a very active kid, loving dance, dance, dance!  Yet the pounds just kept creeping on.  I was not concerned at first thinking that it was simply a part of the heritage of her father's family.  They are mostly large boned Danish descended folks.

Soon it became apparent to me that something was wrong.  It simply did not make sense that she was gaining so much weight when nothing had changed.  She was just as active, and did not eat any more than usual.

So I took her to the family clinician.  I explained my concerns.  The good doctor (she really was a kind well educated woman) tested her thyroid gland.  Since it was normal that was the end of testing.  Here is where my rant begins.  So, they knew one thing that it WASN'T?  What WAS IT!  Why didn't they keep testing until they found the answer?

My concerns continued, and so did her weight gain.  At the age of 12 she attended a magnet program for the arts.  She danced 5 days a week for an hour each day.  When she came home she would ride her bike, or go for walks with her family.  Still the weight kept creeping on.

In her Senior year in high school she gained another 25 pounds, and now she was dancing an hour and 45 minutes 5 days a week.  At her age, dancing around 2 hours a day I could eat anything, ANYTHING and not gain an ounce.

I took her to the doctor many times from the time she was 10 to the time that she was 17 and off she went to college.  Again, we were told what it WASN'T, but not what it WAS!

She was 22 and in college when a doctor finally gave her a diagnosis.  One of the first symptoms of the disease was weight gain, and difficulty losing weight.  WHY, WHY, WHY, didn't one of the clinicians that we visited for so many years care enough to keep working or referring to other clinicians until we found the reason?! 

I do understand that sometimes there really isn't a clinical answer to some of the things our bodies do.  In this case it wasn't even that difficult to find a diagnosis, and treatment that has helped a bit.  It would have been ever so much better if the diagnosis had come earlier on BEFORE she gained the weight!

I was trying to balance the drive to get her proper diagnosis and treatment with the need to not turn her into a hypochondriac.  On the other hand I have learned NOT TO JUST SIT STILL AND IGNORE ACTUAL SYMPTOMS.  I don't wish to run to a clinic for every sneeze, and sniffle, but when there is a more serious issue going on...I will not stop until I get a medical answer.  It's never good to hear that you have a disease but if you already have the symptoms it's ever so affirming to find out the reason for them.

Another example.  I went to the ER because I was in so much pain that I kept passing out.  I was taking pain medication already for degenerative disc disease, and it didn't even touch this other pain.

So at the ER (which was far too busy), they took a couple of tests came back and said, "It isn't this, and it isn't that, so we are sending you home."  WHAT?  You still don't know what is wrong with me, but you're sending me home?

It took two more trips to the ER before I finally got the diagnosis.  I had an 8 millimeter kidney stone.  It had climbed down into my ureter (much too large to be in a tiny little kidney tube).  I could have died from the complications that can be caused by a blocked ureter.  In fact the stone could have actually caused the kidney tube to rupture which could easily have killed me. 

I know that Emergency Rooms are far too busy.  Their job is basically to keep you from bleeding to death, or dying of a heart attack.  Otherwise they just want you to get through the night and then go to your Primary Clinician.  What if your Primary Clinician just looks at the ER's NOT ANSWERS, and sends you home? 

I remember with affection the family doc of my youth.  He genuinely cared about his patients.  I had severe allergy asthma, and a compromised immune system.  Instead of just treating me with antibiotics when I had an acute case of bronchitis he searched and found a research program for asthma.  It was in England but somehow he found a way to get me included.  That medication changed my life.  I went from crappy health, and no ability to plan ahead in life (if I had an attack, or an infection I could not fulfill any plans that came during that time).  Now I could look ahead knowing that my asthma was under much better control!

He did NOT say, well there is nothing I can do.  I'm not certain what your problem is but I know it's NOT this, or that.  He hung on until he could find something truly helpful for me. 

Please, by the raise of hands let's see how many can say that.  Can say, "My clinician genuinely cares about my well being.  He or she will follow through any tests, or issues until a reasonable result is achieved. 

Now they advertise medication on television, and magazines.  So instead of going to the doctor and saying, "These are my symptoms doc," and expecting the good doc to test, and diagnose and then choose appropriate medication we go in and say, "I think that I have this, and I heard about this medication for that condition advertised that I would really like to try."  I would imagine that would easily frustrate any and all clinicians.

Next issue.  In my childhood and youth clinicians prescribed the medication that they felt best suited your condition, knowing of the history of any and all conditions.  Now every single clinician says, "Your insurance WILL cover this medication or WON'T cover this medication."  Medicine by insurance.  Do you go to the very best clinic or clinician you can find? go to the clinician or clinic that accepts your insurance. 

Phew...I feel so much better having vented this rant into the cyber world.  I will now take a deep breathe.....IN 1,2,3,4,5....and OUT  1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and release.  I let go of those frustrations.  It's a beautiful fall day, and I felt well enough to take my small doggy for a walk!  Thanks for letting me vent!

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