Yesterday I received medical records from St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix for all of the 10 surgeries I had there, plus numerous visits in between to the ER. The packet included one entire ream of paper with printed chart notes, EKG readings, surgical notes, allergies, and even my signature on some documents. What they didn’t print out on paper they included on a disc for me. Now that I have to set up a whole new team of doctors to help me through this Magical Medical Mystery Tour, I figured it was best to keep track of things and distribute them myself instead of relying on others to gather the info. It’s a plus that I have a laser copier/fax/scanner/printer here at home so I make sure everyone gets what they need.
Some things were a little tough to read. For instance, nearly every time I told the neurosurgeon or the ER staff that my shunt wasn’t working like it should have been, they would tell me that everything looked fine in my scans and that it must be “something else.” After I would beg and plead with the neurosurgeon to do another surgery so I could function again, he would again tell me that everything was fine and he couldn’t say exactly why I had symptoms, but he replaced everything. One of the times was in February of 2013; Dr. N. was out of the country teaching in Japan, and I went into full failure – face drooping, blurred vision, fatigue, vertigo, and I was walking funny, like a cat with anesthesia from a vet wearing off. One nurse told me to go to the hospital four miles away from my house to see if they could treat me for headache. That hospital ended up doing a nuclear shunt study, which they had NEVER done before – I had to tell the radiologist where to inject the nuclear material in my shunt under live x-ray – and they kept me for six days. At the end of the six days they told me the study was “fine” but opted to transport me to St. Joseph’s because Dr. N. was back in the country. I was at St. Joe’s for another six days, during which time Dr. N. did another surgery on me. Now that I’m seeing what was in the report, Dr. N. actually agreed that the shunt flow was sluggish. It wasn’t my imagination and everything was not “fine.” Suckage. I wish they would trust me more when it comes to knowing what’s going on with my body.
I remember vividly the first day I went to St. Joseph’s when I was still trying to get a diagnosis. At that point I had been to at least a dozen doctors over the course of 10 months. I waited to go to the ER until the day after my birthday – I wanted to have a really good dinner out with friends, because I knew I was probably going to have to go through a little hell. At the time, I was dating this guy I will refer to as The Professor, and he accompanied me to the hospital.
We met through OKCupid. It seemed like he and I had a lot in common. He was educated and was planning his first trip to Europe. His picture was just a face shot, and I could only make out that he was smiling and that he had dark hair. We met in January after exchanging some friendly notes; in person, I was a little startled because he had on blue jeans with a bright white belt and bright white shoes, and the pants were sitting high up on his very rotund belly. The Professor’s hair was also dyed dark brown, which was unfortunate – because the very large bald patch in the back shined through like a pink baboon’s ass. I still wanted to get to know him because I’m much more attracted to brains and a certain amount of worldly experience, and so we fell into dating exclusively.
The differences in our beliefs and backgrounds became apparent over time, as they usually do with anyone you date longer than one night. First, he grew up in the middle of small town Indiana – and was exactly like the people I so desperately wanted to get away from in the little town of 300 I lived in in Minnesota for five years. He was strictly a meat-and-potatoes, salt-and-pepper guy – he refused to eat any vegetables or try anything that had flavor. He hadn’t ever even seen a bagel until he was 24!!! To him, those were exotic. He worked at the law library on the main campus of Arizona State University (ASU) and held a bachelor’s degree, but was re-enrolled for his Master’s. However, ASU let him teach one class: Critical Thinking (hence the use of his nickname “The Professor”). We would laugh over some of the things his freshman and sophomore students would come up with in who exactly they hated in the world but couldn’t explain why. But what really bothered me is that he was in his mid-40’s and his mommy was giving him cash every time he got an “A” grade on a paper, and then he’d get a bigger amount if he got an “A” for an entire class. He bragged about how easy school was for him and how smart he was. I would ask him why his mom was paying him for good grades when he had just said how easy it was for him to get high grades. He did not like that question.
The Professor was also a big fan of comics. I helped him to make a transcript of some of his interviews as he was a contributor for an online publication for comics fans. The Professor would brag about how he was a much better interviewer than anyone else, but after putting together some transcripts for him, clearly he struggled with having an actual conversation and he was asking all of the artists the same exact questions. He was just talking to hear himself talk. I am not a fan of comics myself (despite many artists trying to get me hooked), so having to sit through that stuff was a little tedious.
When The Professor talked about his trip to Europe, I really had to bite my tongue. He was likely going to be scared by some of the cuisine (though in England he would fit right in because everything is boiled), but even more importantly, it was going to be a BICYCLE tour. I knew his weight was going to hold him back; when we were simply driving in the car or watching a movie, I could hear him constantly gasping for air and groaning with the effort. The Professor was a mouth breather and sounded like a monster from a horror film. He also had terrible allergies but refused to take allergy meds because he didn’t want to be a “pill pusher.” I found an OTC brand that dissolves in the mouth and he was in heaven. Even the brands that do not have dissolving tablets manufacture incredibly small tablets, so it’s nothing to swallow them. And since when is taking allergy medicine being a “pill pusher”?
Lastly, The Professor refused to wear antiperspirant or deodorant because he said he didn’t like how it felt. He was about 350 lbs. and like everyone else in a super hot city like Phoenix, he sweated profusely. One time when we sat outside of a restaurant after a meal and enjoyed the sunset, he put his arm around me, and his sweaty pit rubbed that sour smell all over all over my shoulders and wig. I hate having to wash my wig more often than is recommended because the fibers and cap wear out faster.
We had connected at a time when my symptoms were somewhat dormant; I could still see while sitting upright and still drive. However, when I became sicker and sicker and still had to deal with our differences, I debated sending him on his way. It was just exhausting. I am not good at projecting a poker face.
The Professor was with me after I spent a week in St. Joseph’s when the group of doctors filed into my room and told me they decided to operate on me. I cried like a baby after they left the room, and The Professor held my hand and tried to comfort me. But the next week when I was home again waiting to be cleared for surgery, I decided it was time. We sat down on my couch and I held his hand and told him that I didn’t think we were compatible. He told me he expected me to break things off because I would sometimes look at him like he was an idiot. I honestly can’t remember most of the exchange, but I do know that I ended it with telling him that I thought he ought to re-think his stance on deodorant. The Professor then said he didn’t use it because he was allergic to it, and I told him that just because he was allergic to one brand didn’t mean he would be to all brands – I broke out in hives from Secret products, so I went and found one that didn’t do that to me. I also called out the fact that he told me previously that he didn’t like it, not that he was allergic to it, and that’s a big difference.
Last year, when I was having a particularly rough night with pain and medication, I sent an email to The Professor saying that I was sorry about the way that I ended things with him and that I wished him happiness. I didn’t hear back from him, but after doing some searching on Facebook, I confirmed he’s up to about 400 lbs. and is engaged. Good for him.