Posted on Jul 13, 2010 in Blog |
Relief and Renewed Hope
Last week, I started a new medication for my Bartonella (co-infection of Lyme disease). At 2:45 the next morning, I woke up in extreme pain, feeling deep bone pain in my legs and right hip. By 5:30 am, the pain had exhausted me enough that I decided I wasn’t strong enough to handle Lyme treatment. I couldn’t handle it. I was giving up on trying to cure this damn disease. I understood why some chronic Lyme patients choose suicide.
The next morning, I asked my 17 year-old son, Stephen, ‘How did you get through this treatment?’
‘It gets better, Mom, I promise,’ he replied.
‘I don’t know how you did it,’ I responded. I really didn’t.
I felt like a failure. I couldn’t handle the pain of one pill; I was asking a 17 year old how to get through the pain. I got through childbirth without drugs. I shattered my foot and spent 7 weeks in a cast. But the pain from this one pill was too much.
Today, I saw my Lyme doctor. In a matter of hours, my entire perspective changed. I feel a great sense of relief and renewed hope.
That’s just one of the things I love about Dr. M. In an hour’s time, he listens to my complaints, figures out what is going on and why, tweaks my treatment plan (I’m sure he has a more sophisticated word for it than tweaks), explains everything clearly and simply, and then gives me the encouragement and hope that I need to get through another four weeks before my next appointment with him.
I wish I could come up with different words for M than the ones I always use: brilliant, compassionate, funny, artistic, methodical, amazing.
After examining me and talking with me, he explained, ‘I’ve never had a patient respond to the medication this quickly.’ If his head was transparent, I would have seen the wheels turning.
‘Describe your pain,’ he requested. I did.
In my head, I thought, ‘Maybe I had a psychosomatic response to the meds . . .’
We went over the rest of my treatment protocol, and it clicked.
‘I think we are really on to something here.’
My shoulders slumped, ‘I’m glad you’re excited, but this is miserable for me. I can’t do this; I’m not strong enough to handle this. The pain is too much for me.’
He was already thinking miles and months ahead of me, but he braked, realizing his patient’s needs.
His smile softened, his voice quieted, ‘Sharon, don’t worry. I can take care of the pain for you. What’s important is that you are responding to the medication. And your body is synergizing with the medication, getting the full therapeutic value.’
His tone is not condescending or dismissive like many physicians. M is different. His voice is compassionate, patient, kind.
A few more explanatory sentences, his description of the pain relief plan, and I was already feeling better.
One item he discussed is that my body’s response to pain is an increase in blood pressure. This is actually foreign territory for me; I have always had LOW blood pressure. I fainted while giving birth to Stephen. This afternoon, my blood pressure registered 150/80.
High blood pressure is not a good thing, but it gave me a sense of validation. When a body feels pain, the blood pressure rises. There is no faking this primal response. In a twisted way, it proves my pain is not psychosomatic or made up.
High blood pressure is a bit of glitch in the treatment plan because it adds another dimension to items requiring attention (and another medication). But, it’s easily regulated and monitored.
Even though I don’t feel good, M explained what my body is doing, why, and how. Taking the time to explain everything is probably a repetitive, tedious, tiring process for the physician. But it’s crucial to the patient (ok, at least THIS patient). I need to know how this is all working. Knowing how my body is healing keeps me motivated, keeps me hopeful.
M prescribed meds for the pain with options if that particular one doesn’t work. He didn’t start me out on heavy duty, knock me out narcotic meds.
Like M said, what IS important is that my body is REALLY responding to the medications.
Which means I am HEALING.
So a glitch, a tweak, and renewed hope.
I can handle the treatment. I am strong enough. I can do this!
For those of you worrying about the blood pressure: A dose of medication and two hours later, it’s down to my normal 108/68.
For those of you who follow Stephen’s and Jeff’s recovery . . .
They both had great appointments. Stephen just needs to keep on going with his treatment as he’s been doing the past month. Jeff starts his new med in about two weeks after I have stabilized on mine. It was a great afternoon.