I cried a lot yesterday. I never used to – it was a bragging point for me, that I would shed tears once a year, tops. But yesterday I started by spending an hour on my counselor’s couch recounting my dehumanizing neurologist’s appointment on Tuesday with big, fat tears rolling down my cheeks the entire time. It actually took me days to process what happened in the visit, and is the reason why I still have to write part two now.
I barely got five words out before the tears started. They were angry tears. I’m pissed. It’s not just that the doctor was a dick – because he was – but it’s that his actions could affect my life for the next few years to come. It’s not an exaggeration. I’ve been through this before too. When I had my very first shunt placed and experienced abdominal pains from day one, the neurosurgeon and general surgeon passed me back and forth for a couple of months and blamed each other for causing me pain before finally throwing up their hands and telling me that it was my imagination and there was nothing wrong with me before they had to do a large cut on me two and a half years later and discovered my abdomen was grossly inflamed from an allergic reaction to the shunt. Two and a half years before they admitted there was a problem.
The problem with this neurologist now is that he is saying that I have spasms in my face, and that I just need to stretch my muscles. He’s going to put that on my records too – and the records are going to the NIH and Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt will either take his word as gospel or dismiss his diagnosis and study me, and I have no idea which way they will tilt, but if they decide not to accept my case, it could mean YEARS of more testing before they will consider my case again.
The most insulting part of the visit with this douchebag is that he spent more time demanding to know why I wasn’t on antipsychotic meds. I am having some issues with word recall, which apparently he views as a clear sign of being psychotic. Well, that and I have this condition that no one can seem to name up to this point. He performed physical tests including forcing me to fall, all the while holding onto my hips to assist me to the next starting point because my legs shudder and I list to the right during any physical activity and I wasn’t allowed to use my cane. Then he had the balls to tell me that I was just having facial spasms. I couldn’t believe it. I said, “But you were holding me up because I couldn’t stand!” He acted as if I didn’t say anything.
This neurologist gave me the standard statement on my discharge papers saying basically “don’t come back.” I don’t make this up, people – it was there in writing. The list of doctors who will let me through their doors is tiny at this point. I would have to go through the effort of finding all new doctors to try this all over again if I wanted to get another referral to the rare diseases unit if Vanderbilt denies me this time.
I’m not crazy. I just need doctors to set aside their preconceived notions and overinflated egos and listen to me, because I have had six years of this, compared to their one hour with me and my pages of documentation that they won’t read anyway.
I sat down on Thursday night and wrote this to the doctor and his nurse. I don’t think it will change what goes in my chart but I wanted to say it anyway:
“Regarding Dx of Facial Spasm:
Just to be clear, my primary dx should NOT be functional facial spasm. I am preparing documentation to submit to the NIH through Vanderbilt and I would like it to be accurate. My symptoms have always followed the same pattern, in this order: vertigo, fatigue, slurred speech, uncoordinated walking and then ptosis. Every shunt revision has been performed after all of the symptoms have presented indicating that the shunt has clogged or broken. My shunt has been clogged since it was placed on May 11, 2015. The symptoms resolve when I lie flat, which is why I don’t have permanent damage on an EMG (and why the test was unnecessary). When I lie flat, I can feel the fluid move away from the area that it’s pressing on, as if an orange peel is slowly being removed, and the pressure is relieved from my brain. That is why my eyes open and all of the other symptoms resolve. When I am upright, the fluid pools and the symptoms return. I demonstrated this in person on Tuesday, including laying flat as well as turning my head to the far left to open the shunt to drain off fluid so I could open my eyes fully.
The printout regarding functional facial spasm does not address CSF pooling in the brain or how doing stretching of facial muscles is going to help pooling of CSF in the brain. Since I have to travel hundreds of miles in the near future to continue research on my medical mystery, it would be helpful if my records were as accurate as possible and did not contain information that does not apply to me.
Next week I’ll see my primary doc and will find out if I stirred up any shit or if I have been completely ignored.
What a difference having someone who loves me and who is in my corner makes in my life, though! The Saint Paul is like my hallelujah clouds during a shit storm. I promised not to spill all of our personal details, but there are things that I feel are safe to share. The Saint Paul has a big brain and is humble, which makes me weak in the knees. He’s also a good listener. I mean this in a very specific context: If I say that I need to be touched in a certain way, he doesn’t try to correct me and say that “every woman likes” what he’s doing and he’s not going to change it. Instead, he listens and makes the adjustment, and the reward is that I don’t have to fake anything and do the crab crawl backward.
I don’t know if he noticed last night but my eyes were leaking. It was for a much different reason than 12 hours prior when I was parked on my counselor’s couch, but it felt infinitely better.