One of the many exciting parts of my recent run of days off was a visit with my frighteningly Teutonic primary care doctor. I actually like the guy – Not just because he’s instrumental in keeping me alive despite my best efforts to the contrary, but also because he’s not a pushover. I’ve had docs in the past who were probably a bit too willing to give way in the face of a strong personality. This guy, well, he’s not a pushover. Even when I’m blatantly ignoring his advice, I appreciate his frank and direct approach.
This most recent visit resulted in a few tweaks to the daily chemical cocktail that’s doing its best to keep me from dropping dead. Although I’m feeling fine, we added a fairly new drug to the mix because some of the underlying numbers were starting to creep off target. Yeah, it’s another hundred bucks a month out of pocket, but when weighed against the previously mentioned dropping dead option, I suppose it’s really a bargain.
As a responsible drug user, I try to be at least minimally informed about what I’m swallowing down with my morning coffee. Reading the list of potential side effects checked off most of the usual unpleasant check boxes: May cause runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, irritability, back pain, joint or muscle pain, nausea, stomach pain, or diarrhea. Basically what the helpful information packet told me is that the side effects are a subset of conditions I already expect to experience on a regular basis. Super.
Someone furloughed shouldn’t be working as hard as I am. I got up at 6:30 this morning (Hush, that is sleeping in for people who normally wake up around 5:00), drank a pot of coffee, emailed my usual anti-furlough rant to the members of the Maryland Congressional delegation. I thought about calling them out on Facebook and Twitter, but thought better of it since I was on a schedule. I was on a schedule because I had my six month check up with the ol’ sawbones this morning. Ironically, I picked this doctor at least in part because his practice is not far from the office so it would be easy to slip out and back for appointments. Being Furlough Friday, of course, I believe I have discovered a flaw in what was an otherwise logical arrangement. And, please, don’t get me started on their rescheduling the appointment from yesterday to today with about 18 hours notice.
I could turn this into a long story, but I won’t. As usual the doc is annoyed that my blood pressure is good, blood sugar is well within tolerance, and the acid reflux has been gone now for well over a year without meds. They pulled blood in the hopes of finding something wrong, but I have no reason to expect it will come back as anything but “normal” as it always has in the past. So it was a typical visit – lose weight, less meat, nothing over 10g of sugar.
OK, look, doc. At some point we’re going to have to have a serious discussion about not just health, but also quality of life. Maybe if I eat nothing but tofu, almond milk, and salad with no dressing for the rest of my days I’ll live to be 106… but I’m not sure 71 years without steak, pizza, craft beer, or blue cheese dressing is a world I wish to inhabit. Sure, I’d be alive, but I’m not sure I’d really be living.
1. The first few seconds after the alarm goes off. Yeah, I’m a morning person by force of habit, but lately that alarm clock has been annoying me more than usual. If I didn’t know that a much louder and more powerful alarm clock on the other side of the room was going to go off five minutes after the first one, I’d be sorely tempted to heave it into the wall and go back to sleep. Maybe I could just stab myself in the ear with something pointy.
2. A three day holiday weekend is a glorious thing to behold. Having a day off in the middle of the week is more or less just a tease. A tease that gives you the illusion of a weekend, kicks you in the junk, and sends you back to work. In the future I’m going to need someone to remind me to schedule a few days of leave and make the random mid-week holiday a more worthwhile endeavor. On second thought, scratch that. I’m pretty sure no reminder will be necessary.
3. Veterinary medicine. After five visits to the vet in the last two months and what seems like a ridiculous number of tests, the vet has finally struck on what she thinks is the “root cause” of Winston’s skin infections and irritation: a drug resistant staph infection. This, of course, now requires a new round of treatment with new and interesting medication. If I’m not mistaken, the pills I picked up this afternoon are also used to treat malaria in, you know, actual people. Yep, the canine version of MRSA is right here in my very own house. So, yeah, feel free to stop by and tar a big “X” on my front door, because there be plague here. At least it’s not the skin sloughing, oozy kind of plague. That’s something, right?
Medical science isn’t likely to find a bigger cheerleader than me… most of the time. When the chips are down, I can almost always count on them to come up with some chemical concoction the in some way improves my quality of life. Except this week, of course. I’m not in any way disputing the official medical diagnosis of “it looks like you have some fluid behind your eardrum,” but I am, however, disputing the “keep doing what you’re doing and give it another week” advice. It’s not like I’m in there asking for uppers, downers, or even leeches. All I’m asking for is something better than the standard little red pill that I’ve been taking every time I get sick since I was a kid. After two weeks, I don’t think asking for something with a little more horsepower is an unreasonable kind of thing.
Medical science? Meh. Quackery. You failed me. Next time, I’ll just got to Walgreens, buy them out of NyQuil, and sleep til I’m better.
After what seems like an excessive amount of scanning, poking, prodding, and stressing, my faith in the marvel that is modern medical science, is somewhat less than complete. The good news is that there are no obvious signs of things that could cause me to suddenly drop dead. The bad news is that whatever it is that’s causing my head to occasionally explode remains as a diagnosis of “uhhh… we’re not really sure, but here’s some heavy duty pain meds to take in case it comes back.” Now I’m as big a believer in better living through chemistry as anyone around, I think It’d still rather know what it is than what it isn’t. Since that outcome is apparently a bridge too far, I’ll follow my other tried and true solution and try ignoring the problem until it goes away on its own.
… And now back to your regularly scheduled blogging hiatus.
Every time I get the brilliant idea to take a brief respite from writing, something happens that nudges me back here. Some of that is just my nature as an e-attention whore and the rest is that writing things down tends to help my give my thoughts a little bit of structure. So instead of a Christmas hiatus, here we are again.
Since I’m now working on day three of this headache, I think it’s fair to finally have to start giving it some serious consideration. The good news is that the initial period of feeling like someone shattered the back of my skull with a baseball bat is over. The bad news is that the searing pain has given way to an apparently semi-permanent dull ache running from behind my left eye around my head and down my neck. Loading up on aspirin dulls it a bit and the doc was nice enough to give me a prescription for Oxy to use if the worst of it comes back. Still, though that doesn’t tell me much about where it came from in the first place. In the absence of actual answers, I’m all in favor of better living through chemistry.
Doc seemed happy enough that there was no neurological issues yesterday, but the MRI should give us a read on whether something is lurking around waiting for the opportunity to strike. I suppose aneurysm is a possibility, but then again the MRIs are a great excuse to jack up the bill too so every one wins. Except the guy who didn’t realize he was claustrophobic until they jammed him into the machine. The brain is a marvelous thing… My abject fear of dropping dead from a blood vesel exploding in my head apparently overrides my newly discovered abject fear of confined spaces. Even fear is a matter of priorities, I guess.
So until I hear otherwise this morning, I’ll be sitting here with my OCD running through all the possibilities that Google can come up with. If I come at it logically I know if there were any critical issues, they’d have me strapped hospital bed right now. Being a pessimist, though, my tendency to plan for the worst isn’t particularly helpful this morning. Getting my answers on someone else’s schedule just isn’t working for me.