Monday, December 13, 2010

Wow, Universe, Really?

When I was growing up, I think I may have been a little hypochondriac in the making.  I can remember numerous times telling my mother that my stomach hurt, just to (gasp) stay home from school.  There was one particularly bad period around age 11 that I was the constant target of intense teasing, for reasons I still have not figured out, and I can remember my stomach "hurting" a lot that year.  I believe my mysterious illness cleared up fairly quickly after we moved away from the girls who were picking on me, but I know there had to be times that my mother knew I wasn't actually sick and just wanted to give me a day of peace.  Thanks, Mom.  You always have been there for me.  In retrospect, my stomach probably did hurt because intense stress can actually do that to a person.  My digestive tract for years was the recipient of my stress and the cause of most of my physical discomfort...well, until the fibromyalgia came along.  Then we threw the baseball into a brand new ballpark.

What I remember most from my childhood sick days, both real and imagined, was lying on the couch watching our one television to my heart's content, tucked under a homemade afghan, Mom bringing me Campbell's chicken noodle soup, saltine crackers, and flat coke, and her unending sympathy.  There is nothing more comforting than having your mom put her hand on your forehead to see if you have a fever, is there?  I remember that feeling whenever I am checking my own kids' foreheads and wonder if it's something they'll remember fondly someday.

For my entire adult life, I have sought to regain that feeling of comfort I got from my mom growing up when I was sick.  Was it Walden that said "There's no going home again?"  Maybe it was Emerson.  I could google it, but I'm sure one of my five (or is it six?) faithful readers can tell me.  Ahh, how nice would it be if every time you were hit with a line drive by life in the health department, you could go back to the days of being tucked in by your mom and given soup?

Now that I am married and have three kids, obviously things have changed.  I can't just call in my mother every time something goes wrong.  My husband is an absolutely wonderful person who, when he gets sick, wants nothing more than to be left alone until the misery stops.  This leads (I believe) to him thinking that when I get sick, that's exactly what I want.  I hate to disabuse him of this notion because I hate the fact that what I really want is for him to check on me every fifteen minutes and bring me soup and saltines.  Oh, and ginger ale.

This wouldn't be too much of a problem if I rarely got sick.  Unfortuately, for some reason (karma?), I am sick a lot.  I think the universe is paying me back for all those days I got out of middle school when I wasn't really sick.  Fibromyalgia is especially wearing if you have still get to have all of the other crap that goes along with getting older.  Meaning, not only are you in chronic pain every minute of your life, but you still get non-working gall bladders and uteruses (uteri?) that need to be removed, entailing several weeks, if not months, of downtime.  The thing that usually brings me to my knees is that if you have fibro and you are so unfortunate as to have any other illness that requires surgery, it will probably take you way more time than a "normal" person to recuperate.

I recently read a book entitled A Day Without Pain.  I had to stop reading it when I came to the part that asks you to make a list of the positive aspects to being in chronic pain because I was laughing so hard.  Are you fucking kidding me????  There are no positive aspects to being in pain all the time.  I am not getting tucked into the couch and being brought soup anymore, damn it!

After undergoing my sojourn into hysterectomy territory earlier this year, I thought I would be pretty much in the clear, surgery-wise, (hell, doctor-wise) for a good, long time.  They've removed several organs.  What else can now go wrong.  Oh, I am So. Incredibly. Naive!  Apparently, even though I did indeed need the hysterectomy, get this.  It wasn't what was causing my pain!  Really?  Seriously?

I went back to my doctor several months ago to say (meekly) that even though I know I am a more complicated patient than the norm and even though I know I take longer to heal than most people, something still didn't feel right.  He sent me back to the guy who did my surgery, who dismissed me with "You can't possibly be having pain where I operated because there's nothing there anymore for you to have pain in and even if you are having pain, it's probably just adhesions.  If I go back in and 'clean them up,' it will just cause more scarring.  There's nothing else I can do."

Was I satisfied with this answer?  Not really.  Anyone who knows me knows that I don't particularly like being dismissed.  In fact, I was furious.  How dare this guy tell me I couldn't possibly be having pain?  I don't care how many damned diplomas you've got.  You're not the one in this body.  Don't tell me there's nothing wrong with me!

Back to my regular doctor, who is way more people oriented and has way better social skills, who said, "You shouldn't be having pain where you're having pain and I'm sending you for a CT scan to get a picture of your insides.  Probably nothing will show up and, if it doesn't, then I'm sending you to a surgeon to do exploratory surgery to find out what's going on in there."  Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but hey.  At least this guy was listening to and believing me.

So, after agonizing for three weeks about the prep (many of you felt my mental anguish along with me) for the test, I finally forced myself to drink the fat (oops, no, that's Friends), I mean the barium, and went and had the test done last Thursday.  Friday night I got a call from my so very well-meaning doctor that they had found a almost positively benign tumor on my liver and three "bright spots."  I didn't drop the phone, but I could only stammer "okay" when he said he would have his staff call me on Monday to schedule an MRI.

God, it sucks to not be a hypochondriac.  Because when they start to actually find things that shouldn't be in your body, your mind keeps wanting to say wait.  I'm really making this up to stay home from school.  Seriously, is anyone up there listening to me????

So now I'm waiting on the call from the doctor's office, a few questions they probably won't have answers to in my hand, to schedule the next step in this never ending shit-go-round that has become my health.  God, it sucks to be 46 years old and not faking a stomach ache.

Justin is always, always there for me when the going gets rough with a shoulder to cry on.  He may believe I need to be left alone to recover when I'm sick, but he still asks me if there's anything he can get for me and he will run to the store at 2:00 a.m. if there's something I want.  And my mom is still there when I wake up from surgery or if I just need someone to agree with me that God has been very unkind to me in the health department and it's just. Not. Fair.

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