Had my follow visit with the gastroenterologist yesterday. This was the visit where he tells me the results of the endoscopy (AKA – alien tentacle probe) and biopsy of my stomach lining. It occurred to me around noon that he might tell me something I don’t want to hear, and I started to get scared.
By the time I got to the office I was on the verge of a heart attack. The nurse did the usual measure my vitals stuff. She commented that my heart rate was 125 beats per minute. I asked “uh, is that bad?” She laughed and said no, you just have white coat tachycardia? What is that? It’s caused by getting scared to death at the sight of a doctor in a white coat.
And why not? Doctors are scary – they hold your life in their hands. And if they can’t figure out what is wrong with you, then you get labeled a hypochondriac. After all, it did take these doctors 57 years to figure out that I had bipolar disorder rather than just a severe case of being a cantankerous crone. Not a lot of trust going on here.
Before I go any farther I’ll say that I’m going to live, nothing serious. I have helicobacter pylori gastritis. It’s a form of extreme belly ache caused by the H. pylori bacterium. About 20 years ago researchers figured out that bacteria rather than stress causes ulcers and gastric cancer and can be cured rather than just managed by a bland diet and lots of antacids.
He asked me if I’ve been out of the country recently and I had to laugh. The answer is no, not recently. But I’ve traveled all over the world. The only continents I haven’t visited are Antarctica and Australia. The Doc said that this infection is usually from bad water and is common in Mexico and Jamaica, both places I’ve been to on more than one occasion.
I could have had this thing going on for years or even decades. That’s explains a lot. I’ve always passed it off as “I just have a weak stomach” because I’ve had episodes of debilitating stomach distress for as long as I can remember.
I’ve always had a morbid fascination with that show “Mystery Diagnosis.” It’s a show about people who suffer for years or decades with some malady that the doctors can’t figure out. The thing that brings me hope is that these people never give up. They keep searching the internet and go to doctor after doctor looking for an answer. And they are relieved when some doctor finally figures out what is wrong with them, even if it’s serious.
Well, I’m hugely relieved and I don’t even have something all that serious. All I have is some designer belly bug that is totally treatable. So today is a happy day for me. I can get rid of my recurring stomach ache and get on with it. Yiipeee!
On my journey back to mental wellness I’ve started to notice a few things. I’m not the only one who channels Snow White’s seven housemates. You know them surely; sleepy, grumpy, sneezy, dopey, et al. I’m also noticing that I’m not the only one who does not appreciate having their every minor decision questioned.
I find that the best response a friend or family member who is channeling one of these dorks is, “Pfffftttt” or “I see” and a good shrug of the shoulders, followed by an immediate evacuation of the scene. Further pursuance of the question at hand will only result in a blowout. So it seems that I have to remember how much I hate getting dragged over the coals of sixty-four thousand questions when asking questions.
Well damn! Living in the real world can be a pain in the kazoo. I think verbal manipulations should be registered as an Olympic sport. Yes indeed folks. I’ve come across people who actually manage to take an innocent question you ask such as, “how are you?” and twist around to imply that you are a selfish mental microbe who doesn’t care about anyone or anything.
The following hypothetical dialogue (based on an actual conversation) illustrates my take on this scenario:
Me: Hey how are you?
Person X: Well I’m fine, but I’m just tired.
Me: (falling into the trap) Oh, why are you tired?
Person X: Well I was up all night worrying about the national debt. Unlike some people I know (read you) I care about what happens to our country. Also I kept smashing my big toe with a hammer.
Me: (taken aback) OOOkkkk, Uh, why were you smashing your toe with a hammer?
Person X: Well someone (not me obviously) has to take steps to protect our economy. If my toe hurts then I won’t go out shopping and buy wasteful things while other people are suffering.
Me: (feeling a vague unnamed guilt) Uh, I don’t understand how not sleeping and injuring yourself is helping anyone.
Person X: Well of course you don’t see it! And therefore YOU are part of the problem.
Me: See ya later pal, I think I left something on the stove.
I always end up with a mild headache and wondering how I managed to blunder into such a conversation. However, with some people this seems to be the norm. I never did quite comprehend how worrying about something to the point of harming myself helps anything or anyone.
Sometimes a major or even minor disaster can jerk back you to earth so fast it makes you dizzy. I was sitting in the den, wrapped in a blanky, zoning out, half writing and half watching Downton Abbey. Great show by the way.
Suddenly Mr. Husband appears at the door. He just said my name and stood there. I took one look at him and my heart jumped to my throat. Then our entire 10 years together flashed before my eyes. His body was white as a fish and his face and head were purple. He had his hand clapped to the side of his head. I thought “dear God, he fell in the shower and bashed his brains out; his hand is what is holding them in.”
I managed to calm down and thought, well he’s not having a heart attack because he’s standing up and he’s not clutching his chest and he’s talking OK. Also, if his brains were in fact bashed out, there would probably be more blood visible.
He said “I think I ruptured my ear drum.” What? Turns out he was using a Q-tip and started fiddling with the radio in the bathroom. When he returned his hand to his ear he missed and jammed the offending Q-Tip down his ear hole. Yoowwch.
I’ve been plagued my entire life by persnickety ears and know that it is not something you take a wait and see attitude around. Unless you are just dying to find out what it feels like to have a flaming ice pick shoved in your ear.
I jumped up and said “we’re going to the emergency room… now!” He muttered some vague objections and I repeated, “Get dressed; we’re going to the emergency room now!” I don’t even remember what he said because I was ignoring him. We were going to the Doctor, and I wasn’t taking no for an answer. If his ear is damaged, he’s opened a pathway to get coodies in his middle ear or brain.
We ended up in a walk in clinic near the house. The doctor looked in his ear and said, “Well you’ve ruptured your ear drum.” For some unknown reason I burst out laughing. I tend to do that when stressed out. It was a laughter of relief. I was concerned and relieved at the same time. I recounted what my ear doctor has always told me. “Never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear.” The doctor chuckled and backed me up. She said “yup, Q-Tips are dangerous items that really don’t belong in your ear.”
So Hubman is OK, thank you God. And has a prescription for antibiotic, pain relieving ear drops and instructions to follow-up with a doctor in 5-7 days to make sure his ear is healing properly.
Back home he talked to his mom. After she finished her freaking out, her question was “well how are you supposed to clean your ears?” The answer is you don’t. Your ears clean themselves.
It’s another case where companies have a product to sell and launch an ad campaign to create a “need” for that product. It’s OK to use Q-Tips on the outer part of your ear, but they do not belong in your ear canal! That little bit of cotton at the end does not change the fact that they are a sharp object. If you absolutely must, make sure you are not multi-tasking at the same time.
I’m a rather curious person. And I’m also a curious person. I like to click on the people who “like” my post and go to their blog to see what they have to say. What’s their take on life as they know it?
While perusing others blogs I came across an article The S.A.I.D. principle, posted on February 9, 2013. It means Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands. I found this on the Real Women’s Health Blog. She’s got some good stuff there.
While exploring this topic she posed the question: If faking a smile can make you happy, does whining make you more miserable? I think this is absolutely true in a most profound way. I know that whining never solves any problem that I have.
Nor does having a tantrum. But, but…tantrums are so cathartic, even though they do tend to damage people and objects subjected to said tantrum. Whining only turns you into a sniveling bowl of poorly set jello. It doesn’t help at all. It’s not cathartic, it’s not satisfying, and it does not help the situation. It just makes you and those around you more miserable. And it reinforces a sense of helplessness and being an all-around ineffectual person. “I can’t or won’t do anything to make this better, so I’m just gonna sit around and bitch about it.”
Years ago I sat through many a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon (for people who deal with other alcoholics). These people are ruthless I tell you! I’d be sitting around nursing my crappy coffee in a Styrofoam cup and singing the blues. “Oh woe is me, my life sucks, and this will never end.” The old wise ones would tell me things like: “Put on your big girl panties…. Get off your pity pot.” My favorite was “come down off that cross honey, there’s only room for one up there.”
I would of course become outraged. “How DARE you say that to me! If you had the problems I have…<insert horror story here>…blah blah blah.” Then I’d calm down, shut up and listen. Everyone who has to deal with substance abuse or mental illness or any other freak show has their own horror story. The may be different from mine but they’re all terrible.
I’ve listened to people talk about their schizophrenic or bipolar/alcoholic daughters, who would go off their meds, disappear from the face of the earth for a year or 2 and then show up out of the blue with another baby for the grandparents to raise. Then after another year or 2 the daughter would pop back up and say “Hey, I’m all better now, gimme back my kids.” And with the courts behind them, they snatch the kids out of the stable environment and go off on another magic carpet right, kids in tow. How’s that for a nightmare scenario?
I’m grateful now that I heard these stories. My daughter tried that with me. She did not even ask, she demanded that I take her children. And threatened that if I did not take the kids, I would never see them again. Fortified with the information I had – I refused. I told her that she needed to get straight, get treatment and TAKE CARE OF HER CHILDREN, THE KIDS SHE GAVE BIRTH TO. It broke my heart into a million tiny pieces.
I got a ton of flack and grief from people who don’t understand the labyrinths of hell that is untreated mental illness and substance abuse. “How could you do that, what kind of person are you that you would not take in those kids?” It cut me to the bone. I was a single woman at the time living at a barely subsistence level myself. I was in no position mentally or financially to take on the raising of 2 children.
Unfortunately she made good on her threat. I have never seen these 2 grandkids since. She disappeared again for a couple of years when I failed to meet her demands. I found out later that she gave the children up for adoption. She claims the state took them away. I don’t know what is true around this. But I do know the kids are in a stable 2 parent home, cared for by people who love them and can give them a happy life. Could I have done that? I don’t think so.
Am I whining about this? Nope, just stating the facts, Ma’am. Tough love is exactly what is says –tough. You might be better off walking barefoot across hot coals topped with broken glass. I guess what we have to do is pull way back and look at the big picture. Would things have been better if I chose a different path? I don’t know. I will never know. I just have turn left at the next star and head straight on ‘til morning.