Wednesday, July 18, 2012

And This is Why I Hate Going to Doctors

A few weeks ago I had some scary days when my brain seemed to stop working as well as it usually does. I couldn't remember simple things like my phone number, and I just couldn't seem to think clearly or quickly. During the worst of it, I was too confused to even think about going to a doctor. Once I started feeling better, I went to my GP to get a referral to a neurologist. I didn't actually get to see my doctor, but the nurse practitioner I saw seemed competent and compassionate. She gave me a "prescription" to get an MRI done as well as a referral to a neurologist.

Due to weirdness with my insurance company, I ended up going to the ER to get the MRI done instead of a medical imaging center. The MRI was normal, thank goodness, but it left me wondering what the hell was wrong with me.

It took a while to get an appointment with the neurologist, and when I finally did, he didn't seem to take me seriously. I very much got the feeling that he thought that I was some sort of pretentious hypochondriac. He made fun of me for using a "big" word like "diurnal" when describing my sleep disorder. I asked my friends and none of them thought that "diurnal" was an unusual word to use. And considering that Foxfire generally has to force me to make a doctor appointment, and I get stressed even thinking about going to hospitals, I really don't think I'm a hypochondriac. Anyway, he at least gave me a prescription to get an EEG. He said that if the EEG was normal that he would just tell me over the phone so that I didn't have to come back to the office (and waste his time).

Knowing how much hospitals stress me out, Foxfire kindly took off work to drive me to get the EEG on Friday. And it was a good thing he did. As one part of the EEG test, they flash this EXTREMELY bright light at your face in varying frequencies, and even though my eyes were closed, it still felt like someone was stabbing my brain through my eyes every time the light flashed. They would run the strobe light for about 30 seconds then wait 15 seconds and run it for another 30.

A typical EEG pattern

After the fifth or sixth time they did this, everything just went sort of blue and purple swirly and the light didn't hurt my head as much. Instead of feeling like someone was stabbing my brain through my eyes, it felt like someone was reaching inside my brain and sort of squishing their fingers into it. At the end of the session, which lasted about an hour total, I was exhausted, in severe pain and not thinking clearly. Thank goodness, Foxfire was there to drive me home.

The strobe light seemed to have also triggered the most persistent and severe migraines that I have had in a very, very long time. In the week following the EEG, I took more migraine medicine that I had taken in the previous year. On the Thursday after the EEG, I had the worst headache of all. It literally knocked me off my feet. Foxfire had to help me from the couch to the bed because the pain was so bad it was hard for me to walk.

On the Tuesday following the EEG, when I called the neurologist's office to get the results, they wouldn't tell me the results over the phone, saying that the doctor wanted me to come in and get the results, leading me to believe that something odd had shown up on the EEG. Of course, they couldn't get me in to see the doctor that week. I had to wait till the next week for an appointment. Needless to say I was extremely stressed that week.

Well, I finally went to the office and got the results yesterday, and guess what? The doctor said that the EEG was perfectly normal. When I asked why he simply hadn't had the nurse tell me that over the phone so that I didn't end up worrying for a week, he said that he'd simply forgotten that he'd said he would do that. He didn't even apologize for the stress he caused me.

When I asked about everything changing color during the strobe light portion of the EEG, he said some people experienced that. When I said that the strobe light hurt like hell and left me basically incapacitated, he insisted that no one had ever complained about the strobe light being any more than mildly annoying. When I told him about the severe migraines during the week following the EEG, he just repeated that no one else had ever complained about the strobe light causing pain or headaches and politely, but relentlessly, ushered me out of his office.

And this is why I hate going to doctors. They either don't listen to you, don't believe you or don't care about you.

I know that there are decent doctors out there. I actually like my GP. I'm willing to drive 45 minutes to go see him rather than someone closer. And my therapist, who isn't a medical doctor, but who serves a similar purpose, is absolutely wonderful. But the majority of doctors, at least the doctors that I go to, end up being a complete waste of my time and money.

What's the point of going to a doctor if they are absolutely no help whatsoever.