Sunday, October 2, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
My cemetery restortation project has turned into a history lesson. In order to get grant monies, I have to research the people buried there and turn up something "significant" so the folks with the dough will be prompted to agree that yes, we DO need to preserve the place because so-and-so who did this-and-that I lies in repose there.
However, researching the lives of these people has made me think that they are ALL significant. From the babies who were stillborn because their mother experienced placental abruption (due to placenta previa), to the children who died in the cholera epidemic, to the man who was shot and killed in an argument over a woman to the elderly who succumbed to "senility" and "apoplexy" and even the two who lived to be 100…..ALL of those people are significant. Their lives have, and are touching me. I'm looking at their family trees, at their descendants – some of whom are still living in the area – and even before that, I'm looking at how they came to be here. There are immigrants from Europe, people from the East Cost (who I believe may have come to Kansas as part of the abolition emigration), people from the South (most likely pro-slavery folks looking to make Kansas the same – which is the same reason the abolitionists came here)…people from all over the world are here. These people saw America fight herself in the Civil War; some of them saw the nearby town of Lawrence burned to the ground by the notorious William Quantrill, they lived through John Brown's massacre of innocent people in the name of "freedom"….they were a part of history and they are in MY TOWN.
I've been asked recently why I want to spend so much time in the cemetery with "dead people". Yes, their bodies may have failed and ceased to work, but their personal histories let them live on. Every time I find information about someone, it feels as if I'm resurrecting them. I imagine them standing next to me as I read about them, saying "Yes! That was me! Read some more!"
That graveyard isn't really about death. It's about life.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
I walk in this cemetery often. I find my own kind of spirituality there; I don't believe in an afterlife or heaven or deity of any kind, but being in the cemetery reminds me that under my feet are the remnants of lives lived and that I exist BECAUSE of them, whether it be directly or indirectly. It grounds me, it calms me, and I enjoy the solitude and peace there.
So, I've decided to take on a clean up project. I talked to the City Parks manager and have his blessing to tidy the place up. I have plans to plot the graves I can find with a GPS - I have a list of names of people buried there, so I'm going to try and eventually map where they're at. I'd also like, at some point, to petition the State Historical Society to designate the cemetery a historical landmark or place of significance, but that's a long way in the future.
It's a big job. A HUGE job, really. I'm trying so hard to take it one step at a time; to not get ahead of myself, but it's difficult. It's not my style to be patient and methodical, I'm more chaotic and tend to do things with gusto. This is going to be a learning experience for me: an exercise in completing one thing before I start another and a chance to be dogged and methodical. I hope to spend at least three or four mornings a week in the cemetery and if I'm well enough I'd like to go up there every day. My health has not been the best recently; I spent a week as an inpatient with a gastric bleed and ended up firing my gastroenterologist. My new guy ran some different tests and got some new results that point to me having Crohn's disease. I'm on 10mg prednisone twice a day, which is really helping with the Crohn's symptoms, but has thrown me into steroid-induced diabetes so I'm having to test my blood sugars and adjust my diet accordingly. Hopefully it will go away when I come off the steroids in a few months. In the meantime, we're starting Imuran. I'm actually happy with the care he's providing; for the first time I feel like I can hand myself over to him and let him sort me out, rather than not trusting him totally and trying to help steer my care.
Life is good, y'all. It might be painful some days, and some days it's sad and I feel glum, but for the most part, I feel good. Life is good.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
So, I'm going to be a pharmacy tech. I started CPhT classes last week. It seems to be the perfect combination for me; I get to utilize the knowledge I have and I still get patient contact hours, just without having to lift and move bodies and people around all the time.
So, I'm not Ninja Medic anymore, and it doesn't feel right to continue to use the moniker when I'm not doing the job. Instead, I'm toying with the idea of Ninja Pharmer as my ID.
In other news, I nearly shot my husband this morning. He left the house before it was light to go to the gym. I heard him leave, then dozed off again...and an undetermined time later, I heard the front door open again. Nobody called out, so I flew out of bed, got my pistol and slid into the bedroom doorway to see who was in my house. Apparently the sound of a round being chambered made Hubs realize what I was doing and he walked from the kitchen into the hallway with his hands in the air.
He says that in the future he's going to yell "IT'S ME!!!" and wake the whole house. Honestly, I'd prefer he do that....it's a horrible feeling, realizing that you could have done your spouse some serious harm and I'd rather be woken up than feel like that again.
Monday, November 22, 2010
There have been a couple of flies in the ointment, however. The house we're renting was occupied by the home owners until September. We are the first tenants; renting is a new experience for them and it showed. Within the first 24 hours we had to have a plumber out because the bathtub leaked, one toilet wouldn't flush and the other shower didn't get hot water; a HVAC guy because there was a heat pump thermostat on the wall when we don't have a heat pump and it caused the A/C unit to run constantly, and a refrigeration man because the fridge wasn't getting cold. The house was also dirty, so dirty that I felt I had to clean the shower before I could use it. The oven was the filthiest I have ever seen, and I had to replace the drip pans underneath the electric burners of the stove because the old ones were so dirty and rusty. I was more than a little disappointed that I had just got done cleaning one house to inspection standards and here I was, less than 12 hours later, cleaning another home.
The second, and more significant problem happened the week after we moved in. It started with a dimming of the sight in my right eye. Colors were muted and things just looked fuzzy. I waited a couple of days to see if it would go away, and when it didn't (and in fact got worse) I went to see my doctor. An hour later I was in an opthamologists chair, being diagnosed with central retinal vein occlusion. I won't regain any of the sight I've lost and there's a 50% chance I'll go blind in the affected eye. It's put my plans to go back to work on the back burner and I'm still trying to get used to not being able to see properly.
The boys are settling in nicely, and Hubs has started work. We're having one of the single soldiers he works with over for Thanksgiving dinner - he'll be the first guest in our new home.
I have to say that I like Kansas thus far. The town is small, but it has everything we need and the people are some of the friendliest I've ever met. The neighborhood we live in is wonderful; I can drive down the street without worrrying about unattended toddlers running out in front of me and when we go to bed at night we're not disturbed by other people's music pounding until 4am.
That alone made the move worthwhile!
Friday, September 17, 2010
I'm writing this in the hope that you remember me. I think that you might; you considered me a thorn in your side for a while.
I want you to know that I don't hold anything against you personally. You're probably a very nice person to interact with outside of the doctor/patient relationship. My issue is with your professionalism. Not your skill as a physician, exactly, but your listening skills.
I have a lot of respect for the education you've received. My hat's off to anyone who can make it through medical school and residency. Nursing school opened my eyes to the kind of rigors physicians are put through; those of you who make the grade do so because you're tough. My issue isn't with your level of intelligence, however; it's with your listening skills. Your HEARING skills, to be more precise.
Doc, you may have thought that you listened to me, but I don't think you HEARD me. You didn't take me seriously. You wrote me off, you told me that you didn't know why I was so ill intermittently but that I should just learn to live with it. You labelled me - not only in your own mind, but to other providers, too - as a hystrionic hypochondriac and also as a drug seeker. It didn't seem to matter to you that I wasn't asking for narcotics and that I made myself ill taking NSAIDs, you ignored the fact that I came to you asking for a medically managed withdrawl from narcotics after a car accident and subsequent surgery, you just saw me coming in complaining of pain and you made up your mind that that's what I was after. You even wrote it in my medical records. You ignored the times when I refused narcotic medications from yourself and from other providers, you ignored that I asked for you every single time I was seen because I wanted continuity of care....you ignored those things and you got a tunnel vision. Do you know how difficult it is to have something like that written in your chart, Doc? Every physician I've seen since you wrote that has initially looked at me with suspicion.
You're probably wondering why I'm writing to you now, years after we last met. I'll tell you why: I have Crohn's disease. I've HAD Crohn's disease for years, even way back when I was your patient. It's not only attacked my gut, it's attacked my joints and my kidneys, too. All that joint pain I kept complaining about? It was real. The belly pain and constant diarrhea I came to you with? That was real. The fatigue, the hair loss and weight loss and the depression that came and went? The recurring kidney stones and reflux, the gall stones and billiary colic? ALL OF IT WAS REAL AND HAD AN ORGANIC CAUSE.
It wasn't all in my head. It wasn't something I was making up. It was real, doc, and had you not been so determined to prove that there was nothing wrong with me, you might have seen the signs and symptoms that, according to my gastroenterologist, were 'blaringly obvious to anyone who cared to look' and you might have ordered the right tests and come up with a diagnosis.
I consider myself incredibly lucky to have found a physician who was able to put aside the bias you placed in my chart (based on a falsehood, I might add) and see me as a sick person desperate for help. Instead of taking the preliminary negative results of a colonoscopy and endoscopy as a firm indictation that nothing was wrong, he decided to investigate further. "There's another 1/3 of your gut that I haven't seen yet" he said. "Don't worry, we'll figure this out" he said. Those words were like a ray of light in the darkness, and they made me cry. It felt like finally, someone was validating the way I was feeling.
He took me at my word, Doc. He went and looked further, and he saw that the 1/3 of my gut he hadn't seen yet was eroded and ulcerated. He looked at the abnormal blood tests, at my lack of renal function, at my swollen and painful joints, at my weight loss, at my malnutrition. He took the time to figure it out instead of dismissing me the way you did. He took the time, and he got an answer.
I'm not saying that he is a better physician than you, or even a better person than you. I'm simply saying that you might want to re-think your bias; that you may want to try to put aside your cynicism a little more often when confronted with a patient who keeps coming back with the same symptoms, telling you that something is wrong. Perhaps if you had done that with me, I'd have better renal function than I do now and I wouldn't have been as ill as I was...I wouldn't have thought I was dying. I can't say with any certainty that your lack of concern led to my kidneys only working at roughly 30% of their original capacity, but I can say that they're damaged because of the effects of undiagnosed Crohn's disease that I had for YEARS. I can say that had you NOT insisted on seeing me as the pain in the ass patient you might have been able to help me.
I know how easy it is to become cynical when confronted with patients; I've experienced it first-hand. I've also had the cynicism come back to bite me in the ass. I hope that this letter and my diagnosis is YOUR bite in the ass, Doc. I hope that you don't just blow this off as sour grapes on my part; I hope that you take it seriously and that you use it as an opportunity to reassess the way you look at patients. I don't want anyone else to go through what I went through, and I don't want you to treat anyone else the way you treated me.
Now that I have a diagnosis and am being treated adequately for this disease, I'm doing really quite well. It wasn't until I started to feel better that I realized just how awful I had been feeling for so long. I know that it may not seem like it, but I harbor no animosity towards you. If you were still practicing in my area I wouldn't be telling other patients that you're a horrible physician, and I won't be campaigning for the AMA to revoke your license or penalize you. I simply want my case, my illness, to be a wake up call for you. I want you to learn from it, to learn from me.
Much love and many regards,