Saturday, January 17, 2009

Because I enjoy making myself crazy.

Let me start by saying that the chemo has caused me to have some embarassing effects that I won't go into here, but that have necessitated me visiting my GYN once already and twice showing my nether regions to male doctors who are not GYNS. In part, this is one of those stories. Don't worry, I won't go into detail. I seem to have recovered my modesty after that post a while back that I'm not linking to. Anyway.

So, I noticed on Monday night that something was going on that needed to be checked out, and I was a little freaked out about it because it was not something I'd experienced before, and anytime that happens on any part of my body, I usually worry that I have something that will be a big hassle, require many doctor visits (potentially embarrassing ones), be very uncomfortable, and difficult to get rid of. I determined to call my GYN the next day, which was distressing, because my GYN is actually part of a huge healthcare system that does not give me good care and that in fact caused my great trauma in the process of diagnosing my cancer. I need to get out of that system, because the way it's set up, I can't even call my doctor in a pinch - I need to call a central appt. line for an appt., and I get whoever is available when time is of the essence.

Anyway. Meanwhile, sometime last weekend when my immune system was at its weak point, I came into contact with some sort of stomach/intestinal bug. I discovered its presence at 5:45am on Tuesday morning, hours before my first class of the semester (which I cancelled, because there was no way I could make it there with various stuff coming out of both ends of my body).

As stomach/intestinal bugs go, this wasn't so bad. However, because I usually don't get the intestinal part along with it, and because my stomach, while not *horribly* nauseated and upchucky, was still nauseated and upchucky, I simply was not able to keep the fluid balance in my body at a healthy level. So, I got dehydrated. But I didn't notice, because I was just aware of being thirsty, of sipping my ginger ale, mildly aware of "A Mighty Wind" on t.v., and of sleeping much of the day. I did notice that every time I got up to use the bathroom, I felt dizzy, but I attributed that mostly to the fact that I was lying down all day.

It did dawn on me to take my temperature, and it was over 100.5, which meant that I had to call my oncologist's office to report in. By the end of the day, my temp was up to 101.7, and I was told to report to the ER for IV fluids and some tests to be sure that there weren't any other infections going on. I realized how awful I felt when I contemplated getting up, dressed, walking down the stairs, sitting in the car, and going to the ER - not nauseous, but just completely drained and exhausted.

Once there, my fever was 102, and they tested pretty much everything they could test. Everything was fine - I had a stomach/intestinal bug, as it turned out. I began to feel much better after they gave me the fluids and some cold water to drink. They did forget about me for about an hour, while I was lying down on my back, weak, with a blood pressure cuff on one arm and a (stopped) IV in the other, but I managed to reach the call button after listening to the nurses talk for a while about their favorite vacation spots.

But while I was there, I mentioned the embarrassing thing, because I was worried that it was some sort of infection that might be causing all the other problems. So, the male doctor who was not a GYN (as opposed to a male doctor who IS a GYN, which is a different story), and his male resident (also not a GYN), took a look, and I managed to not feel too uncomfortable. They didn't see what I saw and told me not to worry about. So I felt better until a couple of days later when I noticed that it was indeed there. And now I was back to square one. By then, my fever was gone and I was back to normal, so I knew at least it wasn't a dangerous infection. But I still had to deal with the GYN appointment. I made a mental note to get a referral when I saw my oncologist the next day.

Now that I wasn't worried that my vagina was going to kill me, I relaxed for a bit and read the paper...about brain aneurysms. Turns out that three of the symptoms of brain aneuryms are - symptoms I have! So now, I had something new to worry about.

I came armed with the newspaper to see my oncologist. When I mentioned aneurysms, before I could even point to all the symptoms in my handy article, he said that if I had headaches, that was reason enough to go for a brain MRI, and that he didn't think I had an aneurysm, that the symptoms (which he patiently let me describe) could be caused by numerous other things, but that if it would make me not worry, he'd be happy to have me go for an MRI. (And so I shall).

I figured I'd just mention the embarrassing other issue and tell him that I was planning to follow up with (sigh) the GYN, and maybe ask for a referral. Instead, he jovially said, "well, let's take a look at it. I AM a doctor, after all. That IS my job." So male doctor number 3 who is not a GYN took a look, but with a lot more capability and sensitivity than male doctors #1 and 2 who were not GYNs, and this time, I trusted his call that it was nothing to worry about because he saw exactly what I saw.

So - no worries below the belt, no worries above the neck (probably - I feel relieved just knowing that we'll be checking), and the space inbetween is responding well to chemo.

And I am not reading the paper anymore.


bobvis said...

not reading the paper

I'm not sure there has ever been anyone for whom this has turned out to be a bad idea.

I'm sorry you had some bad experiences. I wish you luck in dumping your crappy insurance co/HMO, whoever they are.

I know a bunch of doctors though, and I do have sympathy for them when they describe issues with patients equipped with the half of the story a newspaper article provides.

Green said...

Glad your vagina isn't going to explode or fall off. That's always such a hassle.