It’s funny how things can change one day to the next. I went to bed feeling fine and woke up the next morning in the most excruciating pain besides childbirth, although at times I think labor was less painful than what I experienced.
The day before, I ate whatever I wanted, but the next day suddenly anything I ate left me nauseated and in agony; no big deal, I just had the flu, right? After about a week I started to think this probably was not the flu, seemed odd that nothing was staying down and the pain just wasn’t letting up.
The intensity of my abdominal pain really started to concern me, so I decided to skip over my doctor and head to the Emergency Room. Thus began my six-week relationship with the ER.
I call it a relationship because I actually saw the staff and doctors more than my own husband during that time. I started to joke that I needed my own parking spot I was there so much, but really there was nothing funny about what was going on.
What’s wrong with me?
Each doctor I saw had a different diagnosis for what was happening with me; it’s your appendix, we should remove your gallbladder, maybe it’s a bad UTI, oh wait, it’s got to be a female problem. Based on where the pain radiated from, one doctor even suggested I had a cyst on my right ovary, which almost made me laugh considering I don’t have a right ovary.
Each doctor gave me different medications, changing what the last one gave me because what that doctor gave me won’t work for what they thought was wrong. At one point, they even gave me a standing order to come in just for a shot of pain meds every four hours.
They seemed to have a lot of ideas and fixes for what was happening, but not one doctor ordered a CT scan or even an x-ray. I also didn’t ask for one; what did I know? How dare I question a doctor, they know what they’re doing. After all, they went to medical school and made the human body their job. We tend to do that, we see doctors as authority figures, even all knowing.
A Fresh Perspective
After six long weeks of agony, multiple visits, several different kinds of medications, one doctor finally wanted to see what was actually going on inside my body. I will be forever thankful to her that she did. She asked me why I didn’t request any x-rays or tests earlier, and I told her I trusted they knew what they were doing.
Her advice; it’s my right to ask them to dig deeper, and if I’m not being heard by one doctor find one that will listen. I know my body best and if something doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t and there is no need to suffer.
What I Know Now
We expect perfection for our health care professionals, going so far as wanting them to be miracle workers. We go into the ER with vague symptoms expecting they can wave a magic wand and fix us, first try. They are human, just like us and can only do so much with the information we provide them.
I learned that day that writing down as much as you can about what’s going on is incredibly helpful to them; it hurts is really hard to diagnose especially for an ER doctor who has minimal time with you, to begin with.
There’s a reason Pack Health gives you a Day Tracker
Writing things down gives you the right words for those times when it’s hard to speak up.
Jot down when you’re getting sick, what you ate beforehand when your pain is the worst if you have a fever anything you can that will help them figure out what direction to go in. If you can”t track your symptoms have a loved one journal it for you. Oh, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and dig deeper. I wish I would have.