Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Talking to the Medical Team

     I assumed it would take me more than one day to write another post, but unfortunately I have been home all day with flaring joints, so I've had a bit of spare time on my hands.

     Last night I was beginning my calculus homework, which typically is not the hardest thing ever for me but does require considerable thought. However, I was finding it impossible to focus due to the pain in my left knee. I could not seem to get comfortable, and my knee ached whether it was bent or straight. Frustrated, I planned to do my calculus and physics homework in the morning, and set an early alarm, but I knew as soon as it went off that I had no chance at making it to school.

    A few years ago, I was seeing a physical therapist once or twice a week, and we were primarily focusing on regaining some of the strength I had lost in my hips during a flare. "Tell me if it hurts," she would insist before instructing me to do a variety of exercises and moving my hip with her hands. I would always stay silent, and then my lack of conversation would concern her and she would say, "Are you okay?" Inevitably, I would hold my breath and try to mumble, "Yes" before dissolving into tears.

    I confused her a lot. We never really "clicked," or understood each other. She could not understand why I let the pain become so acute without alerting her. Of course, I made no attempt to explain myself, which definitely did not help the situation. I am currently not in physical therapy, which is a good thing because I have absolutely no idea how I would fit that into my schedule, but I often think about the interactions she and I had in that sterile hospital room with the physical therapy "toys" that seemed a lot more like torture devices to me.

    I still can't pinpoint exactly why it was so hard for me to communicate with her, but I probably need to figure that out soon, because I sometimes make similar mistakes with my rheumatologist. I downplay the symptoms or say I'm okay with treatment plans that really don't seem aggressive enough to me, and I am reluctant to talk about the pain and the effect it has on my life.

     I hate staying home, so I guess I'm just going to have to be honest at my next appointment. My rheumatologist probably needs to know when the pain in my knee stops me from being able to focus, because it means my current treatment is not sufficient. Maybe I'll try to write down some notes ahead of time so I don't freeze up when I get there. Until then, I'm going to hang out with Meredith Grey and test how many times I can heat up joint packs before they break.

Sending love and spoons,
Rachel

5 comments:

  1. As chronic pain sufferers, we tend to minimize and compartmentalize our pain. If it isn't excruciating the day we happen to see our doctor then it just blends into another day after day of living with pain.

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  2. As chronic pain sufferers, we tend to minimize and compartmentalize our pain. If it isn't excruciating the day we happen to see our doctor then it just blends into another day after day of living with pain.

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    1. Hey Cara! I completely agree. I definitely need to get better at talking to our rheumy haha. Do you have any specific strategies that you use?

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  3. I don't want to pretend I know what you are going through, but I do have some issues with pain. I hate it when the doc says, "Did you take something for the pain?" I don't want to take anything for pain. It makes me sleepy or fuzzy. I just want it to stop. Not going to happen though.

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    Replies
    1. I relate to this on SO many levels. I absolutely hate taking medication, and I often skip it which is another issue altogether.

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