Friday, February 15, 2013

Sick of Doctors!

Thinking today's exam wouldn't take long, I dressed casually and didn't think twice about a light breakfast. The appointment was at 11:30. Little did I know I would be in the building for four hours!

It was only an eye exam to check my retina for plaquenil deposits. But this place was set up like an assembly line. I had to wait an hour before my first encounter with a person. The first test was a field vision test, one I've had to take many times in the past. No, it didn't affect the plaquenil test, the reason I was there in the first place.

I was then herded to the waiting area while they fetched my friend who was waiting in the front area. About twenty minutes later, a tech coldly ushered me into another room, did a quick "read the chart" exam, put two eye drops in my eyes and a numbing drop. She then checked the pressure in my eyes by putting a device that looked like a pen as close to the eyeball as she could. Not good. 
Had she been more pleasant, the test might not have been so bad.

Again I was ushered back to the "holding stall." About twenty more minutes and I was sent to another waiting area before entering an exam room. This time a "doctor's Fellowship student" did an exam of my eyes. Cold does not begin to explain this experience. It was ARCTIC. He asked personal questions about my lupus, when I was diagnosed, how it happened, what caused the weight gain, what age I was diagnosed with hypothyroid, etc. All the while I am thinking to myself, "What does this have to do with a plaquenil exam???"

He told me I have to have photos taken of my retina and walked me toward the area leaving me in his dust. Told me to "wait here" as he pointed to the "holding stall" once more and disappeared around the corner. A few minutes later another tech calls me back to have photos taken of the retina. Nice not to have another device against my eye ball

I am then ushered back to the waiting area near the doctor's exam room once again. As I was called back, hoping it is for the last time, I saw the ARCTIC Fellow student sitting in the room. My heart sunk because I thought this experience will never end. He examined my eyes yet again, looked at the images on the computer screen, and as I asked questions, "What do you see?" "Is there something wrong?" He just ignored me.

Finally he told me he wants to do another test. I was afraid at that point. My nerves were on edge. "What is wrong?" I asked. He just said, "I want to make sure you do not have plaquenil toxicity.

I've had systemic lupus for years. I've done tests before. This guy had turned me into a guinea pig and I knew it. He was going beyond the required tests. 

It was at that point the doctor entered the room. The Fellow student mellowed in his manner. His words softened. The doctor's presence took over. His control, compassion, friendliness made the four hour wait worth it. 

The doctor looked at the results and saw there was no deposit on the back of my retina, but did see there was an abnormality in my left eye field test. He couldn't sign off on my medication until I repeated the test. So it is back to the "assembly line" the end of March to do it again. 

I took the time to tell the doctor his Fellowship student needs to work on being more friendly and compassionate, to not treat patients as guinea pigs. The doctor was open and kind, listened to every word I said. He was appreciative in my sharing the experience I had. I just hope this student learns "knowledge" goes beyond what he learns from the multitude of tests he performs. It involves the person. 

Systemic lupus has kicked my butt today. I've not felt so wrung out in a long time. During my exam with the doctor, I almost fell asleep. I am sure Saturday will be spent in bed for my poor sick body is all but spent today.  I am too tired to explain to people why I "don't look sick" but am so sick I can barely hold a glass a water in one hand. I am so tired I have to choose between eating or changing for bed. I choose bed. I am too tired to sit up and watch tv. 

For those who would rather sit in judgement of people who are sick but "don't look sick," please find another hobby. Time is a precious commodity to us. We shouldn't have to lose strength and energy getting upset by your judgements and awful comments. That's probably why you won't see many of us involved in groups, participating in many church activities, or sharing a great deal of what's going on. We're just too tired and too sick to keep explaining it.         

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