The Dawkter's Wife - It's all champagne and caviar now … dahling

Surviving Cancer,The Loony Bin

October 25, 2009

When the shit hits the fan…

So the Chinese say: Anger is always more harmful than the insult that caused it. If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.


The best quote that I found about anger though, was this one: Anger helps straighten out a problem like a fan helps straighten out a pile of papers. Right…and when it isn’t paper in front of the fan?

All of this just makes me feel downright … angry. Maybe it’s my frame of mind.  This week has (as my teen-ager would say) sucked monkey balls.  I was bubbling over with a vengeful rage for days and it felt like the harder I try to contain it, the more it morphed, grew bigger, and threatened to overtake me.  Now, I am left with an empty feeling of sadness that I can’t seem to shake.

Maybe I should back up and start at the beginning…

I have been feeling sick for the last few weeks.  It probably has something to do with the flu season here and potentially coming down with something yucky.  In any case, I felt like someone kicked me in the chest on the right side for days.  Inhaling hurt from the front through the back and I realized that I had some yucky build-up starting on that side. I also noticed that I was feeling light-headed as I took the stairs.

It made me nervous because of the difficulties I have already had this year with respiratory issues….which I guess backs us up even more.

This summer when I took the kids to Wyoming I had a really frightening thing happen.  While I was hiking back up from the waterfall I felt like I was breathing but was unable to get oxygen or something.  It seemed surreal.  I was having pain on my right side and was trying desperately to breathe…was filling my lungs…and nothing.  I nearly collapsed on the trail and Alex was the only one who stayed with me.  Later that evening there were unusual noises coming from my right side when I exhaled.  The next day when I tried to carry things to the van and clean up the room I was sweating so much that my 10 year old joked that I looked like I had jumped in the swimming pool.

It took me a few weeks to recover and truthfully, I never got back to feeling like I did before that.

What exactly happened to me on the trail is anyone’s guess.  It isn’t the first time I have experienced an episode like this, but it was the most dramatic and it got my attention.

I decided to take my internist up on the offer to visit a new pulmonologist.  What could go wrong?  Right.

During the initial appointment with this physician, I brought my chart as well as a recording of the sound that I had made to listen to.

She seemed to take me seriously. She told me she would review my chart and then we would talk again.  I assumed a quick follow up visit. Instead, she called me a week or so later while I was picking up Andrew from school and my phone had less than 10% battery.  The nuts and bolts of it?  She felt I might have narrowing of the right main bronchus and possibly vascular damage.  We could do a ventilation/perfusion scan and/or bronchoscopy but it wouldn’t make a difference in treatment…the treatment being: Have a nice day.  She told me that there was nothing to be done and that I would need to learn to live with it. She said that she would call my doctor and talk with her.

Did I mention I was driving my almost 15 year old and had no juice left in my battery?

I didn’t know what to make of it all.  I called my doctor’s office and left a message asking for a return call after she had spoken with the pulmonologist.  I thought maybe my own doctor would get a better idea of it all, I guess.

The pulmonologist never did call, so I decided to make a follow-up appointment with her instead.  On the advice of my regular doctor, I typed up everything I wanted to say.  Granted, it ended up being an embarrassing 2 pages typed.  (Yah, yah, I know…whatever!) but I put it in a bulleted format of two major points that I then summarized again.

Monday pretty much was a crappy day.  I came down with some sort of flu, couldn’t seem to get myself moving with the kids and the day sunk into chaos.  To top it off, Amanda has been seeing a counselor about her weight issues that she had over the summer and teen girl friendship stuff.  While I was in the waiting room, the therapist told her that I am a “worry wart” which to Amanda translated into “don’t listen to your mom”!  Seriously, it’s a damned good thing I worry about my children or she would have continued to sink into an eating disorder. I was relieved to get to bed that night. And…I felt angry.

I had an appointment with the pulmonologist on Tuesday.

I always feel so awkward and nervous when I have a doctor’s appointment.  I don’t know why.  When I visit my oncologist I have to leave an hour early to get a coffee and listen to music first.  It’s silly, but it is what it is. By writing my complaints down, I determined that it would waste less time and I would have the opportunity to get a solid treatment plan for myself.

Basically, the pulmonologist outright told me she would not read what I had written, asked me to tell me in my own words, repeated that there was nothing that I could do, suggested that when people think they can’t breathe they feel anxious, implied that my light headedness during these periods might be related to hyperventilating and then told me to consider that I might have reflux causing some of the pain and shortness of breath.  So we went from her telling me that she thought there might be a narrowing of my bronchus/perfusion issues to possibly having reflux.  She suggested that I could try prilosec and see if my symptoms went away.  I asked her if it was possible to have one sided symptoms and one sided mucous build-up with reflux.  Yes, apparently, in her opinion, it is.

I was really surprised by her change in attitude, and how rude she seemed.  The real kicker though was when she mentioned the reflux she offered me an endoscopy.  I told her that I wasn’t interested in that at this time and she then said “Good, because if you had been interested it would have made me concerned.”

WTF?  Seriously,  my doctor has to practically put me over her knee and spank me to get me to do anything…and she was suggesting that I was actively pursuing some sort of procedures?

I got none of my questions answered, was completely invalidated yet again and left there feeling completely outraged.  Thomas called and I couldn’t even tell him why I was so upset.  I told him I was fine with it and  just drove around in the van until it was time to pick up Zoe.

So…that led me to yet another mistake…which was emailing someone close to me on this issue a sarcastic message about the visit.  She took it personally because I guess she was having a bad week…and my week pretty much spiraled downward from there.

I developed a fever and spent the rest of my week crawling towards Friday….

The whole time I have felt generally unhappy and angry.

I feel like I am a footnote in my own life.  I know for a fact that if Thomas was having the same problem he would be taken seriously.  No one would accuse him of succumbing to anxiety or hyperventilating.  They would treat him with respect…but…he is a doctor.  I guess I’ve grown cynical and bitter.

I’m just the dawkter’s wife.   I moved him across the world, raised his children, and kept things locked down at home so that he could finish his training and can have the career that he wants.  I have supported him emotionally, taken care of him and sacrificed many of my own hopes and dreams to support his…and at the end of it all…I’m just Tom’s wife.

When I saw my Gyn last year he told me the hair loss on my legs and burning/tingling/numbness in my hands and feet/pain in my calves was from being overweight…to lose weight and it would go away.  I’ve lost 46 pounds since then, but the only thing that helped my symptoms was nortriptilyne for peripheral neuropathy.  hmmmm.   The first pulmonologist that I saw basically told me my symptoms were anxiety related.  The radiation oncologist told me that radiation doesn’t cause damage so it can’t be that. “This has all been very stressful for you, I’m sure.”  The second pulmonologist pretty much turned into the first pulmonologist.

What is it about me that makes people not be able to take me seriously.

It just makes me feel terrible about myself to be so invalidated over and over again.  I don’t think I can ever go to another doctor appointment ever.  I don’t think I can ever allow myself to be vulnerable again…and the worst part…is that all of these consultations and bad feelings…they still don’t solve the breathing issues for me.

So…is my anger more harmful than the insult that caused it?  If I am patient in these moments of anger, will I end up with less regret?  Maybe…I sure regret my sacrasm earlier in the week.  But what do I do with these feelings?  They are eating me alive…

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