I visited my favorite doctor last week. She is the only one of my original set of doctors I kept when I changed insurers. Despite her not being covered directly by my new insurance, she is irreplaceable. She “gets me.” To try to establish this kind of relationship with a new doctor? I’m not sure I’ve got that many years left. Or if there is another doctor like her.

I hadn’t seen her since her in while, so we had some catching up to do. We talked about me, her, life, getting older, and how things don’t feel like they did when we were young. Mostly, we discussed how important it is to feel better.

Anyone who has been sick for a long time knows what I mean when I say “I just want to feel better.”

There comes a moment in time when whatever is wrong with you has dragged on for what feels like an eternity. You can’t remember what it was like to feel good. You’ve done everything you are supposed to do and still, you feel like crap. Whether it’s cancer, recovering from surgery, anxiety, bipolarity, the pain of chronic illness — or any combination of the above plus whatever else I didn’t mention — one day, you just want to feel better.

You really don’t care how. Whatever it takes, whatever drugs, surgery, therapy, whatever. Please, make me feel better. I want a day without pain. Without anxiety, depression, nausea. I want to feel normal or at least something close to that. Whatever normal is. Because I am not sure I clearly remember “normal.”

As far as doctors are concerned, feeling better isn’t a medical thing. You can’t test for it. It doesn’t register on a chart. You can’t log it in the notes. There is no medical value to how you feel. If you can’t put it on a chart or turn it into a statistic, it’s unreal … and unimportant.

To me, it’s the only important thing.

Feeling lousy isn’t an illness, so feeling better isn’t a cure. The doctor keeps telling you you’re fine, except you don’t feel fine. You are tired, in pain, crabby, unable to sleep. Nauseated. Exasperated. Depressed. Fed up with everything.

Just three of my doctors — out of so many — believe feeling good is a legitimate medical goal. One is my primary care doctor, the next is my cardiologist and the last is my shrink. Her task is to help me feel better. “After all you’ve gone through,” she says, “that’s what I can do for you. I can help you feel more like you used to feel before all that horrible stuff happened.”

She understands. She gets it.

I’m going to keep her. The hell with insurance.

48 thoughts on “MAKE ME FEEL BETTER

  1. The British Asian Blog May 9, 2017 / 4:23 am

    I’m not old yet (early 30’s). I can’t say I know what you’re talking about. I can only think and imagine. From my 20’s to now, things have gradually changed or are changing. Like for example, since the age of 15, a bunch of us, have been playing 5 a side indoor football (you guys call it soccer). The same guys, the place and the same time – every Saturday 10pm till 12 midnight. Since then to now I’ve not taken a Saturday off, until January 2017. I took off 3 months and didn’t play. I felt my body needed some time off. To be honest I didn’t even miss it. Now I’m playing again. In the time I had off. I discovered a bit more about myself. I discovered trees. The way they grow and how individual they are – like us. Things are changing and I’m discovering more about myself.


    • Marilyn Armstrong May 9, 2017 / 5:18 am

      Time changes you, from mentally to physically. But if your body will let you stay active, do it. I have not been lucky in how my body has behaved, but some people do much far better. I wish I had had an easier time, believe me.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Garry Armstrong May 9, 2017 / 12:50 pm

        Your favorite Doc seems like a very nice woman. I feel like I know her just from our brief exchanges over the years. Wish I had someone like her.


  2. angloswiss May 9, 2017 / 5:04 am

    I get you completely and what a perfect way to say it. You have been through so much and my path has now begun to take the down stairs. Why can’t I walk like others at my age, why do I get short breathed noe and again – so many unanswered questions. I do have two good docs, the female general practitioner, who is also a specialist for the “shrink” side of life, thank goodness and my neurologist who is good, but only sees me every few months. He cannot cure me, no-one can, but at least you know that someone is aware of your problems. And life goes on, much slower than it used to, so let’s try to at least feel good.


    • Marilyn Armstrong May 9, 2017 / 5:22 am

      We do the best we can. What is nice about this ONE doctor is that helping me feel better is her ONLY goal. She isn’t looking to see if it will fit on a chart or in a statistical model. And it really DOES help, more than I am usually willing to say. It’s not going to repair all the damage, but I feel better. A little bit. A little more alert, a little more rested at night. Not a solution, but better These days, that’s what’s available. A little bit better.


  3. Gordon C. Stewart May 9, 2017 / 7:27 am

    Boy, do I get this! You nailed it. Sometimes professional hope gets shrunk to the kindness of a shrink. She’s the only one who doesn’t depend on MRIs, cardiograms, stress test results, or CT Scans – the “measures” of illness – to help you feel, well . . . “well” or “better”. Nice gloomy piece, Marilyn. Love it!


    • Marilyn Armstrong May 9, 2017 / 12:04 pm

      It’s not that tests don’t have a purpose. They do. i don’t think they were ever meant to determine how someone FEELS. Nor has the medical community as a whole come to grips with the concept that improving a patient’s life so they want to go on living isn’t “an added extra.” It’s the REAL reason for medical care. The rest are no more than diagnostic tools.


      • Gordon C. Stewart May 9, 2017 / 12:40 pm

        Yes, the tests all have their places. Take my teeth, for instance! Without the x-rays and skillful professional dental interventions, MORE of them would have been taken, and I’d be less happy! But some things go too far. My 90 year-old aunt said “No more surgeries. I’m done!” and she meant it. She is one of the happiest 90 year olds I know. She knows that survival and prolongation of life are not the same as happiness.


  4. loisajay May 9, 2017 / 8:27 am

    Right on, Marilyn! Doctors like yours are hard to come by–if they even exist anymore. She most definitely is a keeper.


    • Marilyn Armstrong May 9, 2017 / 12:02 pm

      She is a rare one. Probably more like her in the psychology-psychotherapist framework where they are actually taught to be sympathetic. I’ve met a lot of shrinks. Many of them are as arrogant and rude as any other doctor. I suspect the ability to be a friend to your patients is personal. Some people have the spark, and others — don’t.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn Armstrong May 9, 2017 / 11:58 am

      That’s my point, I think. EVERYONE wants to feel better. It may not be a medical goal, but it is probably THE leading reason people see doctors.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Tish Farrell May 9, 2017 / 9:58 am

    Was thinking of you last night as I know you and Garry love murder sleuthing series. Wondered if you have come across ‘Vera’ set in NE/Geordie coast of England. Brenda Blethyn as a senior detective – character based on novels of Ann Cleaves as per the Shetland series. We found some episodes on youtube.


    • Marilyn Armstrong May 9, 2017 / 11:59 am

      We tried a couple of episodes. but it didn’t stick. But we have them and I expect we’ll go back and give it another try. Right now we are in “Pie in the Sky,” Richard Griffiths “cop-chef” series. I find myself breathlessly awaiting new recipes 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. swo8 May 9, 2017 / 10:59 am

    Feeling better is what it’s all about as far as I’m concerned. Sounds like you have a gem of a doctor there, Marilyn. I would keep her too.


    • Marilyn Armstrong May 9, 2017 / 11:53 am

      Since I got a better primary doctor, at least I feel like I’m getting cared for. The problems aren’t going away, but at least within the limits of current medicine, they are “managed.” Which is about as good as I can expect. And nobody is rude about it, either. That helps!

      Liked by 1 person

      • swo8 May 9, 2017 / 12:05 pm

        Better to have it properly managed and it is always good when you have a good rapport with your doctor.


        • Marilyn Armstrong May 9, 2017 / 12:08 pm

          A lot of what’s wrong with me is exactly what you just said: “manageable.” NOT fixable. Right now, I’m trying to shear off about 20 lbs, not so I can become more fashionable, but to make moving easier. The biggest issue is that I don’t eat much to begin with, so it’s hard to find a way to eat enough less to make a difference. But if I can lose even 10 or 15 pounds, that would be a help. The back is so very bad that every extra pound makes it more painful to move.

          Liked by 1 person

          • swo8 May 9, 2017 / 12:10 pm

            That’s a tough one Marilyn. I’d like to lose a few pounds too but Peter needs to gain a few pounds. He eats like a hungry animal and I get the mere smell of something good and the weight goes on automatically. Sometimes life isn’t fair.


            • Marilyn Armstrong May 11, 2017 / 9:31 am

              Men and women have very different “burn rates.” I used to know why, but I have forgotten, but any time I go on a diet, Garry loses twice as many pounds as me and he doesn’t need to lose any!

              Liked by 1 person

              • swo8 May 11, 2017 / 10:45 am

                I think the female hormones help a lot when we’re younger.


  7. Martha Kennedy May 9, 2017 / 2:56 pm

    I was feeling all this until the other day when I noticed an old friend had liked my photos on Facebook. He had a massive heart attack and a stroke. Had huge major surgery, the prognosis was grim that he would regain anything if he lived. He lived. I asked him how he was doing and he wrote “LEARNEDTOWALKAGAIN THANKSAndcantalk,eat,andthink” Man, I INSTANTLY got it. The way he listed his regained skills was interesting to me because being able to walk matters to me a LOT. I thought of how I’d list them. It would be “learned to walk again, think, write, eat and talk.”

    I believe that there is a shock in recovering from serious physical crisis. I believe it is bewildering to return to the world of quotidian trivia with the kind of knowledge our body and soul have gained from the experience. I think that bewilderment is tiring and makes ordinary life confusing. I think, in a way, a person can not live ordinary life any more. That aspect of feeling better is probably impossible. A person has learned too much about his/her own mortality.

    Since my hip surgery 10 years ago, and the worsened arthritis in my knees, I notice how I walk. I don’t walk freely at all anywhere. It’s not that I’m conscious of HOW I walk, it’s that I’m conscious that I AM walking. Strangely, that’s a burden. I also find I’m very excited about tools I find that make things work better for me, like my WORX Aerocart. I ended up buying ALL the bells and whistles and I’ve used several of them already. It’s weird not to be able anymore to plow through existence with physical strength and reason. It’s just odd.


    • Marilyn Armstrong May 9, 2017 / 3:37 pm

      Not everything gets better. It’s one of the truths of getting older. Arthritis doesn’t get better, but if you are lucky, it may not get too much, or will do so very slowly. My back was surgically “repaired” in 1967. It has always hurt, but during the past 20 years, it got much worse. That’s why I thought it was so funny when they told me fixing my heart would make me feel so much better. I hadn’t noticed the heart problems. I was to busy coping with a degenerated spine. It really IS hard convincing myself to do much. Life hurts. Everything is slow. I walk slowly. Carefully. It take a lot of fun out of stuff I used to do happily. On the other hand, I am alive — more than i can say for a bunch of other people I used to know.

      I’d like to know more about the Aerocart. I’ve been looking at stuff that might help me move because getting around is so terribly slow and I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be able to do this indefinitely.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Martha Kennedy May 9, 2017 / 4:00 pm

        The Aerocart is mostly a gardening tool but because of it I have been able to set up two raised beds, move half a ton of dirt, move stuff out of my garage and best of all — long term — it makes into a wagon that has a seat on it so now all this work is done I won’t have to bend over to tend my garden. My life back in my woodstove days would have been so much better with this thing, too. It has a firewood carrier. It reduces the weight of any load to a functional weight of 17 pounds, max. That’s amazing. It’s narrow, too, so it can go into smaller spaces than a normal wheelbarrow. Yesterday I used it to bring my groceries to my back door. I can carry them, but this was better and smarter.


  8. Covert Novelist May 9, 2017 / 3:04 pm

    Trust me, I feel your pain. I’ve been there and still am. I fight daily with pain. It wears you out. It’s exhausting.


    • Marilyn Armstrong May 9, 2017 / 3:28 pm

      It IS exhausting. A lot of days, it seems like too much trouble to get moving. I’m hoping more pleasant weather may inspire me, because right now, I need inspiration and less pain. I think this endless damp weather makes everything worse.


      • Covert Novelist May 9, 2017 / 4:05 pm

        It does. We’re back and forth from 9 to 15 and then back to rain. So it’s an endless cycle atm. I wanted to get out and plant my lavendar and snapdragons. I’ll have to leave it up to my son, I can’t get down the stairs, too painful. I’m hoping they get my ramp built soon. which is equally painful in some respects.


        • Marilyn Armstrong May 9, 2017 / 4:10 pm

          I can’t plant, either. I can’t do that much bending because my back will break and my heart might stop, two really good reasons for not doing it. But also, we’re expecting another invasion of Gypsy moths, so there seems little point in getting fancy until the crazed insect invasion dies back. I’m hoping this crappy weather will deter them. I can hope.

          I find ramps easy to go up, but hard to go down. The down slope balance is tricky for me. Maybe on a scooter?


          • Covert Novelist May 9, 2017 / 4:17 pm

            Yes the same here…. regarding ramps. I need to get out of the house and it involves stairs… and a great deal of pain …I have bone spurs in 3 vertebrae in my lower back pressing on the nerves to both legs causing untold mysery as well as both knees require replacing so stairs and walking are issues… as is laying down more than sitting these days. But I keep on keeping on!


            • Marilyn Armstrong May 9, 2017 / 6:37 pm

              We have stairs. It takes a LONG time to got down and at least as long to go back up. We need one of those stair climbers, but the money’s not there. Maybe someday. Maybe. NOT holding my breath.


  9. DailyMusings May 9, 2017 / 9:40 pm

    I had no idea what chronic pain meant until I broke my elbow 5 years ago and found out what it was to not feel good for months on end, to become depressed from it. Unless one has experienced it people don’t “get it”- can’t relate to not feeling well as a state of being. Keep the Doctor, so fortunate to have someone like that and worth every penny


    • Marilyn Armstrong May 9, 2017 / 10:21 pm

      That is indeed the problem. People who have never had a physical or emotional problem that didn’t just go away after a couple of weeks don’t really understand how exhausting ill health can be. It’s not just the pain. It’s like you can’t breathe after a while. It’s very hard to explain it to people who are sure it’s just “something in your head.” Very hard.


  10. DailyMusings May 9, 2017 / 9:41 pm

    I forgot to mention that your last photo is breathtaking. The clouds behind the trees with the light – just beautiful


    • Marilyn Armstrong May 9, 2017 / 10:22 pm

      Thank you. We were in the car driving home and suddenly, the sun came out. Garry pulled off the road and I jumped out and took about a dozen shots, ALL of which were remarkable. It’s why I carry the camera. Because those moment come and disappear so fast. We were actually on our way to shooting somewhere else, but we never got there. This was what we got instead.


  11. bipolardepressionfight May 18, 2017 / 1:23 am

    I keep going back to my primary Dr, because he really tries to help me get a better quality of life..


    • Marilyn Armstrong May 18, 2017 / 12:59 pm

      Wherever you find a doctor willing to really help you feel better, it’s worth staying awhile and hoping it works out. So many don’t seem to care how we feel. We’re just “customers.”


  12. tlohuis June 4, 2017 / 8:39 pm

    I totally understand everything you said here. I, too, just want to feel better…………………………….for even just one day!!!!!! XXX


    • Marilyn Armstrong June 4, 2017 / 8:40 pm

      I think we are all like that. Doctors have gotten very businesslike. Maybe it’s good for their income, but it’s crap for their patients.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. tlohuis July 31, 2017 / 5:51 pm

    That’s exactly what it is……………………………………………………..sigh……………………………Hope you’re having a good day. 🙂


    • Marilyn Armstrong July 31, 2017 / 5:52 pm

      I have a pretty good group of docs these days. I’m just hoping no one decides to move to California or retire.

      Liked by 1 person

      • tlohuis July 31, 2017 / 6:07 pm

        A few of my best doctor’s have retired…………………………………..I hate that!!!! They were sooooooo good. I”m glad to know you have a pretty good group of doctor’s these days. NO retiring allowed……just tell them straight out! 🙂


        • Marilyn Armstrong July 31, 2017 / 7:02 pm

          I had one doctor who refused to retire, but one day he gave me a prescription for the wrong patient. Wrong Rx, wrong name on prescription and I realized that for everyone, you sometimes need to let it go. But he was one of the great ones for a very long time.

          Liked by 1 person

          • tlohuis August 5, 2017 / 3:54 am

            One time I had the pharmacy make that same mistake on me, but it was the pharmacy. They gave me someone else’s prescription, and apparently gave mine to someone else. My Hematologist retired in June. He said he didn’t want to be one of those that stuck around a few too years too long, if I knew what he meant. I told him I knew exactly what he meant. I’m now seeing a different Hematologist in the same office. I’ve seen her once and I think she’s going to be a keeper. I was rather impressed with her. So, we shall see. Sometimes, they put on an act for the first appointment as a new patient. But, she seemed real. Take care. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

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