I've recently been preoccupied with the mind-body connection.
It's no secret that the human brain is largely a mystery. To say the balance between what we know about the mind versus what we do not is unequal is an understatement. And, often, physicians are apt to dismiss anything they do not understand. If whatever problem you are experiencing cannot be solved by the pharmaceutical industry, then you will likely be sent away from your doctor's office with little more than a referral to a psychologist and an insincere "sorry 'bout you."
As a patient, this is infuriating and demoralizing. Chronic physical pain is difficult enough to manage. When a doctor gives you that sideways look and states, "this is probably an issue for your psychiatrist," it is like being kicked when you are down. If you have any type of psychological diagnosis listed in your chart, you will probably hear this more than once from more than one different physician.
"Diagnoses" like these beg the question: if the very real pain that one is experiencing is rooted in the mind, why not take a more holistic approach to treatment?
I see one doctor for physical issues and one doctor for all things mental. While these physicians can communicate with one another, there is a very apparent disconnect I notice when having to reiterate my issues to each. If my mind and my body work so closely with one another, why can physicians not do the same. Or better yet - why can't doctors view & treat the body as a whole rather than a sum of their parts?
I don't think I've ever looked so peaceful
If you are like me, you will try virtually any reasonable treatment to relieve chronic pain. I mean, I am not going to go out and pay someone I've met in the woods two hundred bucks for a concoction of deer pee and ground-up rat bones but if something, say acupuncture, has been used for centuries and people report real improvement in their symptoms, what would prevent me from trying it?
It baffles me that such things are thought of as quackery. I've received a lot of flack for this opinion in the past, but, I would much rather use a natural, minimally invasive treatment than put another chemical in my body. I am not a fool - modern, western medicine is incredible and life saving. However, it does not make sense for me to choose a lab-created treatment whose side effects include liver damage or stroke over a plant that can be grown in my backyard.
I don't even want to know how much the pharmaceutical industry spends on advertising and lobbying activities each year. As a society, we are brainwashed into believing that the answer to all of life's problems can be found in a pill. Alternative medicine (even that term is dismissive) is portrayed as kookyfuck nonsense reserved for hippies or those too poor to afford the latest designer medication. However, we forget that before the advent of fancy drugs with names most of us cannot even pronounce, many common conditions were effectively treated with "natural" remedies.
Here is a fun anecdote from my personal experience: I get migraines. At one point, they were so severe that I was prescribed a daily medication as well as an abortive painkiller that I would take when my screaming demon would rear its ugly head. At this time in my life, I was working in a bakery and I did not take the abortive medication at work because it decreased my coordination (industrial mixers and loopiness DO NOT mix). One day, I was preparing a large batch of icing that contained peppermint oil. When I poured the peppermint oil into the mixture and the smell reached my nose, I noticed immediate relief of the pain in my head. It was so remarkable and unexpected, that I researched it when I arrived home that day. As it turns out, peppermint and lavender are used to alleviate headache pain. To this day, I have a bottle of peppermint oil on hand at all times and put a few dabs on my temples and underneath my nose when I start to get a headache. Not only do I smell minty fresh, but my symptoms are greatly improved.
Of course, I listen to my doctors and take all of my medications like a good girl. But I will not discount any natural line of defense unless I have tried it myself. Just as my pain is in my body it is "all in my head" as well. Anything that will treat both in one fell swoop is a friend of mine.
"I will be a good boy and never tell you the bad things I think about, the dirty little things. I keep them to myself."
We all live in public, to a certain degree. Social networking sites allow us to expose our most interesting, inappropriate, and immodest intrigues to anyone bored/voyueristic enough review them. Most people skew the data in their favor by posting pictures of themselves with impossibly attractive people, highlighting their professional triumphs, or uploading a hundred pictures of their most recent vacation to Disneyland or some such shit.
Debbie Downer sez: "We all know said photo was taken in a booze-fueled haze in which will result in regret (and probably vomiting) the next morning, professional triumphs are exciting until you slump back into the drudgery that is your day job, and the omitted Disneyland photos most certainly picture one (or several) family members throwing tittybaby temper tantrums because they were too short to ride on space mountain."
Hopefully, I am not the first person to tell you, dear reader, that the world is not filled with too-tanned women contorting their cherry-red lips into the dreaded duckface pose in an attempt to look sexy. These people exist only on Friday and Saturday nights...when Monday morning rolls around, it's back to the dead eyes and smile-less lips.
The human experience is a never-ending roller coaster of ups and downs. Of course we want to present our best face to the world, but I find that to be dishonest. We all have flaws, both physical and emotional. And yet many of us feel uncomfortable when we witness a family member, friend, or acquaintance publicly discussing something painful, even if we have been through something similar or experienced something profoundly painful.
There will always be a faction that takes secret pleasure in such things - "I'm glad that isn't my life." While those people are assholes, I can't blame them. There is nothing wrong with appreciating the good things in your life, but it's more than a little fucked up to only be able to be thankful for your good fortune while watching someone else suffer.
There is another faction who wishes for public meltdowns. My heart breaks for these people. How empty your life must be to wish sadness and pain on others! My plea to the world: Gossips - please think twice before you revel in someone else's pain.
About two years ago, my life fell apart and I am still sifting through the rubble. At first, I was literally terrified to tell anyone about my experiences or true feelings for fear of being judged. Even if a well-meaning person asked how I was doing, I would turn red, clam up, and mutter "of course I am fine." I have since decided that continuing down this past is the most dishonest way for me to live. Not to mention that keeping everything bottled up almost caused me to implode.
Yes, I am depressed. I have anxiety problems and PTSD. Oh, and let's not forget about the terrible insomnia.
These things do not control me, though. Sometimes, I have bad days and go through "rough patches" Other days, I can function at the same level as the "norms." For what it's worth, every single experience, good or bad, has helped shaped me into the woman I am today. Even considering all of my faults (which I will willingly admit to), I like the person I have become. And I am not at all ashamed to talk about my faults, fears, painful experiences if I feel like it will help someone who is in a dark place.
Moral of the Story: Be true to yourself. Don't be ashamed of anything you think or feel, especially the "ugly" stuff. Don't be afraid to ask for help. And do not allow yourself to be controlled by negativity or pain. Even though it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is there and you can reach it. But do not ever be ashamed to ask for help.
I'm not trying to brag but my recent trip to the ER has exponentially increased my vocabulary. Do you see those words over there? Yeah...on the left.
I know what they mean.
When I was discharged, I was instructed to have some outpatient testing done - the first was the aforementioned ultrasound. The second is a hypercoaguability workup. (My mouth won't even allow me to correctly pronounce that word. Google doesn't even know it). From what I understand, which isn't much, hypercoaguability is essentially the opposite of hemophilia*. Certain factors, like the items shown in the above picture, can cause the blood to clot more easily. In my research, I also discovered that a previous thombotic event increases one's risk of future DVTs and emboli. (What came first, the chicken or the egg?)
Anyway, things like this make me appreciate anyone in the medical profession even more. They have to be able to explain the ins and outs of conditions I can't even pronounce. I am reminded of one doctor in particular who is treating me and happens to be bilingual. This person not only knows what these conditions are but can explain them in English and Hindi. How can anyone's brain hold that much information? Humans are truly amazing creatures.
Oh, and I am not able to have this testing done until I complete my current course of treatment with warfarin. Hopefully, this will be sooner rather than later, considering the good news delivered by my recent ultrasound.
*Autocorrect wants me to change this word to "pedophilia." Google, y u creepy? **There is a cemetery near my house that has a super-interesting egg-shaped monument. Every time I pass it, I compulsively say the word "egg" fearing that, if I do not, something horrible will happen. You can officially add OCD to my list of diagnoses.
The ultrasound tech who delivered this information seemed like she is a lot more fun than George Bush so +1 for that. But the information is the important part. There were no new clots discovered in my right leg! Yay for clot-free veins! Yay for nice ultrasound techs! And, yay for me, just because!
The unfortunate part of this story is that something prompted this ultrasound. That means it is now storytime!!!!
Time is organized into decades, years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds. This particular story takes place in a time no so very long ago in a place not so very far away.
Ok. It took place in my office, specifically in my cube, which is decorated with a nice kitty painting urging me to "Hang in there!" (thank you Beano Gee!). There are other this-es and that-s, but the BeanoCat is the centerpiece. No cube is complete without inspirational posters.
Sadly, my hang-in-there cat must have been napping on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 11th at approximately 3:00 PM EST.
I was *not* coming back from a smoke break. Really, what kind of pulmonary embolism survivor would I be if I started smoking after being discharged? I would be a stoop, that's what I would be. I actually frolicked in a field of sunflowers until my feet fell off and my 15 minute break was over.
And then I passed out.
I have never really fainted before. The couches designated for that purpose would make one believe that fainting is a delicate, womanly thing. It's not. I hit the floor with a THUD and have a fat lip. I am just grateful that I didn't piss myself. Now THAT would be something that I could never live down.