Family and close friends know that I have not been feeling well for several months now. Actually, it has been about six months since I have started suffering from digestive problems that have become more severe as time passes.
When Dave and I returned from our Oregon trip in late September, I knew I had a bladder infection. I waited about a week before going to the doctor because we got home right around my birthday. I wanted to visit with a friend from out of town. The next day my older daughter treated me to a birthday brunch. The following day my other daughter and my granddaughter treated me to High Tea at the Brown Palace Hotel. Then it really WAS my birthday, so Dave and I celebrated on THE day. By that time, the infection was severe and I ended up on a 14-day course of Cipro. The medication worked, even though at times it felt like a case of the treatment being worse than the ailment!
When I received the word that I was okay, I began my exercise regimen at the fitness center and was feeling good. Three weeks into my workout schedule, I noticed sharp pains in my right side. Indigestion had not gone away once the bladder infection was cured, so I now suffered from severe nausea, the sharp pains in my side and back and terrible heartburn.
All of these symptoms cropped up as the holiday season began. Their severity varied, so I adjusted my diet and decided to ride out the holiday season. If I had something seriously wrong with me, I wanted to postpone knowing about it until after Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day and my older daughter’s early January birthday. Holidays are such a hustle and bustle under normal conditions, why complicate things?
I proclaim today, the 21st of January, that delaying is not a good idea. When I finally got in to see my physician, the medical offices were as crowded as the post office before Christmas. Everyone in my part of town had postponed medical appointments like I did. Added to that, many new enrollees in my medical plan arrived for checkups, prescriptions or blood tests. A few days later I was in radiology for a CAT scan. It was crowded there as well.
The results of my test showed gall bladder problems, a blockage in the duct between my gall bladder and pancreas, a thickening of the gall bladder wall, inflammation and fluids where they shouldn’t be. Okay, I already suspected gall bladder trouble, so I wasn’t surprised. Let’s take care of it!
My Doc sent a referral to Gastroenterology and I called to make an appointment. The first available appointment is February 21st! When the scheduling nurse told me that, I said, “You are kidding! What if this gets worse before then?” Her reply was, “Go to the emergency room if the pain increases or if you begin vomiting. You can always call about cancellations between now and your appointment.” I waited for her to say, “Good luck!” She didn’t.
I have called every weekday since. I set my iPhone alarm to ring its most annoying sound, reminding me to speed dial Gastroenterology. I know my medical id number by heart. Pretty soon the staff will know my voice and my request. They are unfailingly polite and friendly. I feel rather ghoulish calling so much, waiting for a time to open up. If one does, is it because someone else went to the emergency room—or died?
What has this taught me? Don’t postpone medical problems. Everyone else does, so you will be with the pack rather than ahead of it. Now I find myself putting my life on hold as I wait for surgery and to finally feel better.