Thursday, June 25, 2009

Drowning in Doctors & Knee-High in Needles

I spend WAY too much time going to the doctor and getting stabbed with needles.

Last Friday I was at Student Health twice in the same day. I had to get blood drawn for a thyroid test. Luckily, it was my favorite lab man. He knows me pretty well seeing as I’ve been in his lab twice a month for the last year. He always makes me smile and it never hurts when he draws my blood. So I won’t say that experience was pleasant, but it wasn’t bad either.

Doctor Count: 1 visit/1 day.
Needle Count: 1 stab/1 day.

But then I went to the pharmacy to pick up three prescriptions, one of which I was going to run out over the weekend. I told the girl at the pharmacy that there should be two on the shelf and one in the fridge. She said yes and I paid a zillion dollars for my ENBREL and left. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized one of the prescriptions was missing. And, of course, it was the one I was going to run out of over the weekend. So I had to go all the way back to student health and pick it up.

Doctor Count: 2 visits/1 day.
Needle Count: 1 stab/1 day.

On Monday, I had an appointment with the travel nurse for my upcoming trip to China. What would have been a 15 minute appointment for most people turned into an hour and a half debate about what precautions would best protect my compromised immune system and what drugs could be given to me that wouldn’t react with my 15 other medications. (I’m not exaggerating about the 15). For example, I can’t take the oral typhoid vaccination because it is a live vaccine and my immune system can’t handle that. So I had to get the typhoid shot. I also got my first Japanese Encephalitis shot.

Doctor Count: 3 visits/4 days.
Needle Count: 3 stabs/4 days.

On Tuesday, APL drove me 40 miles each way to the University Hospital where I met with a doctor in the rheumatology clinic to get a second opinion about my treatment. I actually really like and trust my current rheumatologist, but several people (including my dad and my boss) have encouraged me to get a second opinion. Since it has been a full year since my diagnosis without huge amounts of improvement I guess a second opinion is valid at this point. The doctor was a very nice man. He went over the onset of my disease and my treatment plan up to this point and confirmed that he would have used the same methods of treatment. To be certain, he took x-rays of my hands and feet and had some blood work done. Annoyingly the lab technician drew my blood from the exact same spot on my right elbow as Student Health did on Friday. Although the hospital appointment went quite well, we hit hail and traffic on the way home. The whole expedition ended up taking over five hours.

Doctor Count: 4 visits/5 days.
Needle Count: 4 stabs/5 days.

Today I went in to see my regular doctor to find out the results of my thyroid test and to answer some of the questions that the travel nurse couldn’t answer. My thyroid is normal and the doctor thought of another drug I could take in case I get sick in China that wouldn’t conflict with my other 15 prescriptions. So that was good. However, the doctor then got very concerned about my high blood pressure. For one thing, I have what they call “white coat hypertension,” which means I get nervous when I go into the doctor’s office and the first time they take my blood pressure it is almost always high. Usually they take it a second time and it comes down again.

But today I guess it didn’t come down enough, and the doctor started looking through my history and determined that my blood pressure had a general trend of being too high. So I went off to the lab again to get still more blood work. Sadly, my favorite lab man wasn’t there and the girl who took my blood took it from the exact same spot as Tuesday and Friday. I now have a bruise on my arm large enough to look like I abuse drugs. I also had to give a urine sample and pick up a prescription of blood pressure medication. The doctor wanted to start me on it right away so she could see how I respond before I leave for China.

Doctor Count: 5 visits/6 days.
Needle Count: 5 stabs/6 days.

Tomorrow, it is time to stab myself with another ENBREL dose.

Doctor Count: 5 visits/7 days.
Needle Count: 6 stabs/7 days.

On Monday we are leaving to drive to California to go to APL’s 4th of July family reunion. I am really looking forward to the trip. However, before we can even leave town I have to go back to Student Health for my second Japanese Encephalitis shot.

Doctor Count: 6 visits/11 days.
Needle Count: 6 stabs/11 days.

Next Thursday it will be time for yet another ENBREL stab.

Doctor Count: 6 visits/14 days.
Needle Count: 7 stabs/14 days.

As soon as we get back to town, I have to go back in to see my regular doctor to see how I am doing on the blood pressure medication.

Doctor Count: 7 visits/20 days.
Needle Count: 7 stabs/20 days.

Then it’s time for another ENBREL needle stab.

Doctor Count: 7 visits/21 days.
Needle Count: 8 stabs/21 days.

Then I have to go back to Student Health again for my last Japanese Encephalitis shot.

Doctor Count: 8 visits/22 days.
Needle Count: 9 stabs/22 days.

Then, yet another ENBREL dose before we leave for China.

Doctor Count: 8 visits/28 days.
Needle Count: 9 stabs/28 days.

Who on earth goes to the doctor eight times in a single month? Or gets stabbed with a needle at least nine separate times in a month? Sick people, that’s who.

I know it’s supposed to make me feel better, but actually it’s quite exhausting.

1 comment:

~kelly marie~ said...

Ugh. I am so sorry. This is way too much. I know you will make it through because you kick ass, but, seriously, this sucks. Maybe you can get an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records?

I'll send you a private email about my latest WTF medical drama because I don't have to guts to post it online, but I know you can relate!