For the last few months I have had a lot of pain in my hands and fingers and my feet and toes. It seemed to come out of nowhere and I assumed it was that I was sleeping funny, or driving more or not getting enough exercise. So, I got a mattress pad, changed my vitamins, doubled up on my iron supplement, drank more water, added turmeric to my diet, soaked my feet in epsom salt, googled all things rheumatic and arthritic, and at least a handful of other things.
I also went to my doctor who ordered blood work and x-rays and questioned my low iron (full disclosure that’s when i realized i had missed it way more doses than i thought!). My primary doctor is a wizard; he basically saved my life on two occasions, so when he calls me and says “Uh, this all looks good” I’m deflated.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want anything to be wrong, but something IS wrong, I’m not making it up, it’s obvious to the naked eye that there’s some swelling and redness, and sometimes the fingers and toes are tender as shit. Like bump a knuckle on the handle of the kettle and sob tender – wake up and wobble to the bathroom like a penguin tender. He refers me to a rheumatologist, who can see me this year but not for weeks.
I made the appointment and had a follow up with the wizard today. He started the visit like every one has stated in the last five years, “What do you want to talk about regarding your health today?” I start to tell him about my low iron probably being my fault, about my vitamin change and no longer taking gummy supplements. “Interesting” he stopped me, “Let me tell you my theory here”. He goes on about recent link in low iron and colon cancer “I don’t think you have colon cancer” (ok, good!) He says thee screening age has been lowered from 50 to 45 recently and “You’re pretty close to that” – I don’t think in the moment to say that I’m just as close to 35 as I am 45 – but he’s the wizard so I let him continue “let’s just get it off the table so we can focus on your other complaints”.
I’m not afraid of the endoscopy and colonoscopy that he wants to schedule – I get the itch for surgeries and procedures like other people do for tattoos (I’m aware this is weird). It’s that it’s not one of my complaints – hands and feet, let’s talk about my hands and feet! – when I googled (and you know I did) colon cancer and the risks, I don’t have a single solitary one of them except for this low iron bit. It’s also that it seems too thorough, even for him. He sent me for a head CT because I had several headaches in a short period, one of which lead to a fall – but it showed nothing. He also was very thorough about a lump in my neck that I thought was a swollen gland and ended up being a 3 cm nodule that needed an ultrasound and needle biospy (I’m fine) so his old school thorough approach isn’t silly. I agreed to go along with the tests, scheduled an appointment for April and left after what was only a 13 minute visit.
I got in the car half mad, half sad. I furiously texted Steve a novel about the appointment, I then texted a lot of the same info to a girlfriend. Why was this bothering me so much – why did I feel so frustrated when I left there. I drove to the grocery store and sat in the car trying to process the whole thing. Both Steve and my friend say better safe then sorry, humor him blah blah blah. And yea, of course they’re right. But, then what’s the problem ….
I ruminated …
One of my favorite things about my doctor, the wizard, is that when I first met him five years ago he was the first doctor in all of my then thirty-five years of living that truly listened to me. He didn’t dismiss my concerns or reduce my experiences or feelings down to my weight or high blood pressure like so many others had, he heard me, and he helped me. Today I felt like he was only listening to what I was saying so he could respond, it felt very much like an ‘Okay, but I’m the expert here’ moment – especially when referencing my tight weekday schedule and him saying ‘it’s one day out of your life, your health is the most important thing’ – when I’ve spent years making my health the most important thing. (It was reminiscent of the lady who tried to shame me into paying a shit ton of money for personal training by saying I didn’t want to invest in myself when there were still visible scars on my body from having more than half my stomach removed)
I got home still feeling UGH about the whole thing, I could feel it starting to seep its way into my mood and potentially my whole day. I just felt like some fat lump who couldn’t possibly know what was best for myself so I should just nod and agree and do what I was told. Maybe I should consider finding a younger doctor, or a doctor who sees more younger patients, or maybe, it’s not lost on me, that I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
Either way, I still have plenty of hours left to enjoy the day, so I am going to.