FOWC with Fandango — Health

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 “gets me” in a way that only someone who has known you for a long time possibly can.

I hadn’t seen her in while — she was on vacation — 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 yet 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 all the other things I forgot to mention — there comes a day when all you want is 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, or nausea. I want to feel normal, whatever normal is. Because I am not sure I remember “normal” anymore.

The problem is that feeling better isn’t considered a medical issue. As far as doctors are concerned, feeling better is your problem, not theirs. You can’t test for feeling better. You can’t plot it on a chart.

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 not real and not important.

To me, it’s the only important thing. Since feeling lousy isn’t an illness, feeling better isn’t a cure. If it isn’t a cure, the medical community isn’t all that interested.

Meanwhile, 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 believe feeling good is a legitimate medical goal. One is my primary care doctor, the next is my cardiologist and the final one 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.

Categories: #FOWC, Anecdote, Daily Prompt, Fandango's One Word Challenge, Health, healthcare, Medical, Personal

Tags: , , , , , , ,

28 replies

  1. I’m the same with my current “shrink”. The thing is that I honestly can’t see her as often as I’d like (right now it’s every week) because the money simply isn’t there. The insurance is covering most of the fee, but even that tiny amount that I owe is getting impossible. Still once you’ve found a shrink that gets you and fulfills your internal requirements (mine are foremost it has to be a FEMALE shrink. I’ve really tried using male ones, and it usually falls apart very quickly, because one of my problems is that I don’t really trust men), it’s unthinkable to give them up.

    Nosy ol’ me I was reading that comment from Kiki which is above mine (in my reader) and I’d like to put in my 25 cents worth: Everyone doesn’t HAVE to have a shrink. Some folks are lucky in that they aren’t damaged in an invisible kind of way and don’t suffer from stuff that requires a shrink to ‘fix’ or at least to try help fixing. And it’s optional even then. Some of us (me at least) have to have one because we don’t function almost at all without that help. I’ve had chronic depression most of my life and when things get bad, they get really bad. I think of little but how to die. I want to die. So I choose to try getting help from someone trained in helping folks not to think that way every second of every day. I don’t know that Marilyn goes for the same reasons, everyone is different.

    Ms. Kiki? Did that help explain it? I live alone, no spouse, not too many friends (and actually NONE that I’d unload all my crap on) no family – children zero, close family – zero.


    • Shrinks also become friends. Before I stopped needing therapy, I had another psychologist to talk with and even when the problem wasn’t so much mental as financial, she was a huge help in finding ways to lower my costs. She’d get forms for me and help me fill them out.

      One day, she said “You don’t need psychiatric help right now. You just plain need HELP.” And I really, really, really did. We were in dire financial need … and she was a big helping us dig out of it.

      Of course, that was before I turned 65 and they took away Medicaid. With Medicaid, I HAD no fees and most medications cost (are you ready?) — one dollar. No matter what they were. One dollar. But when you turn 65, they decide you don’t need that much help. I never worked that out. You mean when you are old, you aren’t disabled? Disability disappears and you are richer than you were before?

      We have some seriously stupid laws in this country.

      But I had probably in total 10 years of therapy to deal with depression. I had that kind of depression where you don’t ever get manic. You just stay gloomy all the time and when you are at a party and you see other people having fun, you really wonder how they DO that because you never feel like you are having fun. One day, I was talking with the wife of one of Garry’s colleagues and she was talking about her own therapy and suddenly I realized I’d been depressed my entire life. I’d been depressed so long, it was my version of normal. I wasn’t bi-polar. No ups. No deep downs. Just a constant, low-level gloom that never went away.

      That was when we all discovered there wasn’t a single anti-depressant that didn’t make my head try to explode. The good part was that because I had a few months of feeling so much better, at least I knew what feeling better was like. I had to work my way to that place without drugs. It took practice and effort and a lot of talking to myself. And writing to myself. But I got there. My son had to do the same thing because he has the same inability to take those drugs. But he said the same thing: “Once you know what ‘good’ feels like, you can find it.”


  2. A general problem worldwide is that doctors are ‘allowed’ something like 8′ per patient. You can’t even start discussing anything knowing you’ve got 8’….
    Love the cartoon! Too true.
    But what is it with you people (I don’t mean ‘just’ you, in general people…): Why does everybody ‘have to have’ a shrink? I ask you seriously as in my opinion you’d be a human being able to ‘discuss’ stuff with your partner/friends/or family member. Just with one…. I know so many kind, wonderful people who got worse by their ‘treatments’ – and please note that I’m not judging, not at all, I’m just interested – it seems nearly like a ‘must do’. And if this is too personel I officially ask you to throw this comment in the bin, delete it, if too intimate a reflection.
    And YES, keep this doctor – she’s a good one!


    • In my case, it isn’t a “talking” shrink. I don’t go to her for therapy.

      She is a psychiatrist (MD) — also known as a psychopharmacologist — who specializes in medication prescriptions for non-medical use. Anxiety, sleep, amphetamines, and especially serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) — which I cannot take . She can prescribe drugs that regular doctors are not comfortable prescribing because dosages need to fit each patient and his or her tother physical problems. Because I have two replaced heart valves and a pacemaker — AND I’ve had cancer twice — AND I have a twice removed and repaired stomach — there are a LOT of drugs I can’t take. So she’s the official prescriber.

      She gives me pills to help me sleep because pain makes sleep difficult and because I can’t take anti-depressant medication (migraines that could easily become strokes), she gives me other medication to help me feel better. We also talk, but we just talk.

      She’s a big Red Sox fan, so we talk about baseball and she is very interested in how Garry’s hearing surgery is going and how my kids are doing. She’s a person, so once a month, we spend half an hour chatting. When I was selling antiques, she used to also buy stuff. If we weren’t medically related, I think we’d just be friends.

      The only time I really bottomed out was after the cancer surgery. Apparently, it is more or less standard to be depressed following both heart and cancer surgery. It’s a huge shock to your body. Everything turns topsy-turvy. They actually warned me about it after heart surgery — but they sort of forgot after cancer. It just took a long time to get back to something like normal, especially because I could not take the usual drugs that might have lifted me out of the hole.

      I feel I should also point out that not everyone has a close family to talk to. I did, but they died. All gone now. Most of Garry’s family is also gone. Many of our friends died. It happens to everyone. No one expects it. We all think our friends and family will always be there, but they aren’t. Some die, some live too far away, some have serious problems of their own — physical and family-related — and many can’t travel. Some lose themselves in dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. I had more friends than I knew what to do with when I was young and now I have four that I sometimes see. The family has dispersed and the older generation are all dead. ALL of them.

      Old age is not an easy place to be. Physically or emotionally.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for this very detailled reply Marilyn. That was so helpful. I do – of course – know hardly anything about your health condition and this is a totally different ‘story’. Having myself two sisters with severe breast cancer treatment (amongst other) I can see that you’d need someone of confidence to talk to. I wish you well.
        And, a bit as you do, I also realise that I don’t have many friends I can talk to openly. Only, I also can’t see much good coming for or from all those who do go to talk to their ‘shrinks’. What I see is that every situation is different.


  3. I just finished an episode of pain, very debilitating and my granddaughter rushed me to the E.R. where they scanned my neck, the area of pain. My diagnose is “old age”! Now I am resigned to it, and it does help to know the cause, not just wondering about it. Laying down flat is the only way to reduce my pain, but my doctor says I have to get up and walk around so it won’t continue to get worse. My mother who lived to be 98 years old, I was her caretaker would often say, “And they say these are the golden years.” She laughed and added, “the only gold is in my teeth.”


    • I’m surprised they didn’t tell you to apply heat or ice (or both, alternating) or something in the way of muscle relaxants. And exercises. You need a better doctor! There’s no such thing as a disease called “old age.” That’s just a doctor too lazy to bother to really diagnose the problem. Yes, probably it is doubtless the result of years of use, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do something to make you feel better. They are so ARROGANT.


      • Thank you for your concern, they started me on therapy exercise and prednisone meds. I will see my doctor again in a few weeks. My insurance is with Kaiser.
        I pray that you will soon find better days and good that you do have a doctor that cares, so many now have the attitude if your past 75 its time to bow out!


        • I know. And I’ve had so many pieces repaired and replaced, I’m a lot older than I look. My husband is just turning 77 and he is in MUCH better shape than I am. Be careful with the prednisone. It’s dangerous. It works, but it does a lot of damage to other organs.


  4. She’s definitely a keeper. 🙂


  5. I don’t envy your trials. Sorry that it’s so on-going.


  6. When I was a kid we always saw the same doctor, but those days are gone! I think I could ask to see a particular doctor but I’d probably have to wait a few extra weeks… of course, being at work most of the time doesn’t help as the times I can get appointments are limited.


  7. Keep the good one, Marilyn, she’s listening to you.


  8. and then you start apologizing for being so crabby ’cause you feel so bad and all you want is to feel better. It’s awful.


  9. It plays on the nerves to carry the daily aches and pains with you, because they are daily.


  10. Time for the pain to end!! For you and me and all the other nasty lousy stuff. 😢 hope you get more sunshine soon!!


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