Saturday, January 28, 2012

It's not a TooMohr (said like Arnold in Kindergarten Cop)

It's 24 hours later and I am doing just fine, thank you very much!

I wanted to start out with the last line today lest any of my loyal readers, either one of you, worry about my well being while I describe my ordeal.  I also wanted to have a chance to use the word "lest" lest a publisher was reading and wanted to know if I could use big important words properly!

The reason I was not doing fine in the first place, and it seems to be becoming an annual event, is that I have once again come down with shingles.  Well, let me say that I have most of the typical symptoms of shingles.  My skin burns like mad.  It feels like I have an internal sunburn that is sending shooting nerve pain up and down one side of my body...but the doctor didn't call it shingles.

Allow me to back up a bit.  About three weeks ago I started having a bit of pain in my arm.  I thought that I had hurt it somehow.  But then it just kept hurting and kept hurting.  I kept telling Sylvia that I thought I had shingles again.  I was in denial for a while but secretly I waited for the blisters to come.  They didn't.  I finally couldn't take it any longer and called my doctor to see about taking the anti-viral medications.  Through her associate, on a phone appointment, I heard, "If you don't have the blisters it's not shingles."

Google and WebMD.  I searched "shingles without blisters."  There were "about 700,000" results.  This can only mean one thing.  My doctors do not have internet access!  How sorry for them.  I learned that it is actually quite common to have shingles without the rash or blisters.  I didn't know that personally since the first time I had it, I had the blisters.  The second time, it was on my I didn't see any.  I called the doctor back and was offered another appointment...over the phone.  "pass"    Try again!  I talked them into an actual doctor visit and went in.  This is when the fun began.

I'll just skip over the fact that, even though I didn't have shingles (in their opinion), they told me to wear a mask to check in since shingles can be contagious (but you don't have shingles).  I know it is circular illogical reasoning but I try not to understand...fewer headaches.  I got my mask, marched in looking and feeling like a fool, and was taken immediately to a room.  (As an aside, I am wearing a mask to all future appointments)  I couldn't have been in the room for twenty seconds when the doctor on duty, not my regular doctor, came in.  She was looking at the notes the nurse had written, then looked at my arm, and all in one motion announced, "This is not shingles."  The door hadn't even closed yet and she was done.  Case closed.  Next patient. Dr. House has nothin' on me!

 Great!  Thanks for the diagnosis.  You can keep my co-pay.  Do you validate?

Lucky for me I wasn't born a doormat.  I said, "Can I tell you what I am feeling?"

I went on to explain that I had experience with shingles before and that it was something that you do not forget.  She had the nerve to say again, "This is not shingles."  I forged ahead and told her that I felt like I have had a bad nerve infested sunburn for weeks and I was waiting for the blisters so I could get the medicine.  I am 99% sure this is shingles.  I'm not really a complainer but if I can make this pain stop I want to...the sooner the better.  

Wait for it..."This is not shingles.  This is dry skin and it is irritated.  That is what this is."

"No, I have had this same dry skin my whole life and it only feels like this when I have shingles."

"People who get shingles more than once are immuno-suppressed. This is not shingles." And it is hard to describe but she asked me about where I had shingles before in a very condescending manner.  It was a mixture of disbelief and testing to see if I knew what I was talking about.  When I motioned to my left side around my body and under my arm, she sort of nodded and went, "hm" as if to say, I guess he might have had it once.

"Well, I've had it more than once and it is usually brought on by stress."

"No, this is not shingles.  It is not brought on by stress."  (Google results for "shingles brought on by stress"...103,000)

"Well that is what the other doctors have said.  I am pretty sure that they...."

"This is not shingles.  People don't get it more than once."  (Google results for "Shingles more than once"...1,480,000)

"Well I actually had something pretty serious last year, related to stress, that I was told was shingles-like on my esophagus."

She made a face like she was smelling something bad, "People don't get shingles on their esophagus.  Did you have an endoscopy?"  (oozing sarcasm)

(Through gritted teeth) "Yes, and a biopsy, which is how they proved it.  It was right around Halloween last year.  You can look it up.  It'll say that I was in the ER with an anxiety attack.  I have never had an anxiety attack.  The biopsy came after I kept calling, and calling, and telling them that something was making it so everything I swallowed was like swallowing broken glass with a lighter fluid chaser."

To the computer.  "Hmm.  Well shingles on the esophagus is really rare."

"Well that's me.  Really rare esophagus guy.  I have a chronic esophageal condition also, (I pronounced all eleven syllables of it for her) Really rarely make stuff up too."

Then she stopped saying, "This is not shingles."  over and over, and started saying, "Phantom pain." in its place.  She changed her story and said that shingles lasts about 3 to 5 days (HA!) and then there was the "phantom pain" that could last a while longer.  At this point I would like to point out, again, that I have had shingles.  I know several people who have also had it.  There is nothing 'phantom' about the pain, and the effort required to keep from screaming at her after the sixth time I heard her say, "phantom pain" should at least be rewarded by someone giving me the key to the city...or at least a case of Dr Pepper.  I have talked to a friend who had shingles, and brain surgery.  Shingles was worse.  Hands down.

So she wrote out a prescription for the medication needed to treat shingles but never gave me the satisfaction of actually saying, "Ok, I guess you do have shingles."

I really didn't want to spend the whole blog complaining.  I also don't want to use this forum to typically single out people to complain about.  I am not going to tell you the doctor's name.  It is possible that the people I write about may be readers and see themselves in here.  I can't afford to chase anyone away.  But I don't think I need to worry about this doctor though...She's too busy trying to figure out how to make a coat out of a hundred and one black and white spotted puppies!

It's 24 hours later, on the meds, and I am doing just fine, thank you very much!

1 comment:

  1. This isn't Kaiser is it? If it is I'll need to know the name of this doctor so I can stay away from her! What a horrifying experience. Glad you're getting better.