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.