Everything will work out just fine unless it doesn’t.
I had a difficult doctor visit this week with a new, young, and well-intended doctor who wants to do a lot of new testing for my decades-old heart and lung problems. He seems smarter than the average bear, and I am touched at how earnest he is to re-diagnose me, but the agitation and strain of redoing all these medical procedures is very tiring to me. And, I am very much aware that these procedures are an end-in-themselves, there is no cure for heart and lung disease. There is only questionable surgery for which I have no family to sustain me, or heavy-duty medications which have negatively impacted me in the past, so neither of which I could accept. But I will cooperate with my new doctor and endure these procedures to give him every opportunity to help me. Maybe there is something new in geriatric medical care.
Among other medical procedures, I am scheduled for a long, miserable day (for which I must arrive one and a half hours early!?!) of:
Echo-cardiogram – which my medical insurer Humana’s third party “screening” vendor Health Help hasn’t approved yet, adding suspense to the mix;
Pulmonary Function – where they will put me in a claustrophobia inducing box and tell me to breath normally; and a
Stress Treadmill Test – with the coronary vasodilator Regadenoson (CVT-3146, Lexiscan), which “may be used when a person is unable to exercise enough to increase blood flow to their heart during a cardiac nuclear stress test. Lexiscan is used to help produce images of the heart for diagnosing CAD. Lexiscan should not be used if you have certain abnormal heart rhythms unless you have a pacemaker.” I tried to decline repeating this stress treadmill test five times (I counted) because I have those abnormal heart rhythms, and I was offered but declined a pacemaker twenty years ago (a wise decision). I also repeatedly complained to both the doctor and his nurse, that “I have had this stress test before, and the chemical used in it feels like it is killing me.” The doctor ignored me. His nurse repeated replied with annoyance, “That’s the way it’s supposed to work.” She frightens me.
I have been diagnosed with various other ailments, but here is a recent list copied from my Advocate BroMenn Medical Center online patient “portal”. A fun word “portal”, but there is nothing fun inside this portal.
Neoplasm of uncertain behavior of skin – which is “an abnormal mass of tissue which results from an uncontrolled process of cell division (mitosis). Neoplasm of uncertain behavior is a term used when doctor is not sure what the spot is on the skin but is concerned it could be skin cancer. Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer.”
Shortness of breath – which is a serious understatement.
Asthma – I think I have a chronic stuffy nose, doctors say asthma. Asthma it is.
Headache – an understatement of the headache I have had since I moved to Illinois in 2007 (2 or 3 on scale of 10).
Lump or mass in breast – which I had removed. It was just fatty tissue. I have decided to have no more lipomas removed, I have lots of little ones subcutaneously.
Obstructive sleep apnea – For which I was prescribed an expensive CPAP machine years ago. This device provides (forces) a fixed amount of pressurized air up your nose all night long as you try to sleep. I diligently spend one year suffocating each night with a CPAP machine (CRAP?), until I finally had the sense to give up on it. Every old lady I know has a dusty CPAP machine on her nightstand that she is afraid to refuse and cannot use.
Degeneration of intervertebral disc – hurts like a son-of-a-gun.
Chronic allergic conjunctivitis – Nope, my dry, red eyes are a result of failed LASIK surgery to correct my near vision. How do I know this? My “dry eyes” started the day after the surgery, but doctors refuse to acknowledge this. They stick together.
Coronary artery disease
Hypersomnia – “Hypersomnia, which refers to either excessive daytime sleepiness or excessive time spent sleeping, is a condition in which a person has trouble staying awake during the day. People who have hypersomnia can fall asleep at any time -- for instance, at work or while they are driving. They may also have other sleep -related problems, including a lack of energy and trouble thinking clearly.” Fancy name for my sleep problems which stem from being kept awake at night by massive pain.
Old myocardial infarction –I had my first heart attack two decades ago, and a second one a few years ago. My self-report is discounted because I was too incapacitated to get to a hospital to have it documented and billed.
Lentigo – which is a “freckle, a tan or brown macule on the skin brought on by sun exposure, usually in a middle-aged or older person. It is benign, and no treatment is necessary.” Since when did freckles become a disease?
Migraine with aura, intractable*
Precordial pain – “Is truly a deep, strong discomfort that is generally rapid in growth and spread, and brief in duration. Precordial pain arises on the left portion of the chest muscles just about the nipple part.”
Hiatal hernia – the gastrointestinal endoscopy tore my voice box and ruined my voice. The technician who did it was high as a kite. The foreign doctor refused to acknowledge my injury.
Cardiac murmur – Funny, it doesn’t murmur to me, sometimes my heart crashes around in my rib cage like a crazed beast. The “murmur” is probably my leaky heart valve that was diagnosed years ago and far away, and the records were lost.
Shoulder Strain – Actually, I have at least one torn rotator cuff, and it feels like both of them, making it hard to dress.
Chronic Reflux Esophagitis
Lower Back Pain Chronic
Duodenal Ulcer Due To Helicobacter Pylori
Chronic Renal Failure
And from my new doctor visit:
other chronic pain – they are finally hearing me on the pain, doctors denied it for many years.
atheroscierotic heart disease of native coronary artery without angina pectoris
cerebrovascular accident (CVA), unspecified mechanism – “accident” is such a strange word for my heart attacks
premature venticular contractions – and more, so very much more wrong with my old ticker. I wonder when my time is up?
chronic shortness of breath
atypical chest pain
chronic atrial fibrillation
The new doctor prescribed Eliquis 5 MG Tablet, colloquially known as a blood thinner to mitigate against stroke because I am at high risk of having another stroke. However, I have decided that I do not have $40/month to give Big Pharma for the rest of my life. And, I do not want to “thin” my blood because so many of these powerful medications are found to be detrimental just a few years after they are promoted. I dread conveying my final refusal to my new doctor. Doctors expect obedience.
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* I used to experience the full compliment of aura symptoms, then discovered that Naproxen (NSAID) stops my ocular migraine and aura symptoms within minutes, although I am left exhausted:
seeing flashes or flickering light
zigzag lines or waves, also called fortification illusions – mine scroll and would be beautiful if they were not so frightening.
spots, stars, halos, circles, lines, other shapes or colors – not your sunset color, mine are dull, murky colors.
blurry vision – This is very annoying when I am trying to relax by reading.
loss of vision
other vision changes – Not sure about this, but maybe? Why not, I have everything else.
seeing dark areas
seeing three-dimensional effects – not the thrill one might think.
confusion – I have a workaround for this. I make a to-do-list for the day and patiently work myself through the list.
allodynia (sensitivity to touch or feel) – this is particularly troublesome for me, nothing helps and I experience this a lot.
aphasia (difficulty finding words and/or speaking) – rare but memorable. Friends are appalled so imagine how I feel.
vertigo (sensation of spinning or whirling) – add nausea here.
one sided weakness or paralysis (in hemiplegic migraine) – For example, I wanted to type and only one arm went up to the keyboard, took two tries to get it going.
olfactory hallucinations (smelling odors that are not present) – does not mean roses or butterscotch.
auditory hallucinations (hearing sounds that are not present) – I think I do not have this problem.
Alice-in-Wonderland Syndrome (distortion of body image/perspective) – a rare but unforgettably bizarre experience.
Caption: Everything will work out just fine unless it doesn’t.
by Annmarie Throckmorton 2018