You learn no one, not even a doctor, knows your body like you do … You also learn they soon think you’re so addicted to their miraculous selves that you create reasons to come back to them, for whatever ungodly reason that is I cannot myself fathom.
With all of the tests that’d been done in the last few years I couldn’t believe none of them addressed this. Until then I was an attractive and surprisingly strong woman with a willingness and ability to stand up to physical challenges like clearing a lot for home construction to primping and dressing in all that’s feminine and being all that’s fragile. I enjoyed that stark contrast of myself.
In good part ignorance, breast cancer diagnosis was met with the same determination of self. When insurance proved treatment costs were more than could be reasonably afforded, I didn’t hesitate to tell the doctor, “I’ll just have to die from this, I can’t afford it.” Thank God for such a good and caring doctor as I had, who spun a whole new availability of insurance coverage that afforded treatments and only by that grace of God am I here.
In the middle of breast cancer treatments and maybe a result of them being known for degenerating the immune system I developed Melanoma skin cancer. That was expediently removed. Both were burdened by a narcissistic husband. His sarcasm, “You’re not the first person who’s ever had cancer,” was smug and snarling, his way of telling me to ‘get over myself’ so he could get on with a life uninterrupted.
Countless tests and blood labs followed. One prognosis after another indicated metastasized cancer so a whole new round of labs & testing would start all over again. Eager to be done with it all I’d had the port in my chest, that received chemotherapy, removed as soon as treatments were done and paid little attention to an ache that remained.
Three-years later I was just beginning to put cancer in my past. I never understood if I would’ve naturally aged so much or if these effects had thrown me into old age more quickly. But I was alive and, after all, that was the goal. Finally I walked out of the doctor’s office in remission. The suffering was – finally – over. I could finally return to whatever new normal was. No more worrying about testing and procedures. Now all I had to do was feel healthy again.
Within the month the port implant pain was more than a slight ache. I’d gone to the local ER twice and they treated me like a hypochondriac. I saw a specialist out of our rural area and his reaction was just as insulting. When you’ve gone through what I had, you learn that no one, not even a doctor, knows your body like you do – and I knew this wasn’t something to dismiss. You also learn that they soon think you’re so addicted to their miraculous selves that you create reasons to come back to them, for whatever ungodly reason that is I cannot myself fathom.
Going shopping this particular morning I’d taken two aspirins, which was highly irregular after the lengths I’d taken to rid myself of pills in never wanting to take another. In good part that was so I didn’t have to deal with the huffs & puffs of whining annoyance from the narcissist when discomfort came over me while we were out.
That spring morning was deliciously bathed in fresh, crisp, bright sunshine and the first warm breezes of a broken winter. Our way home from town was scenic, down a hilly, two lane highway lined with big lush trees that’d just come back in new foliage.
The bright cloud-puffed sky started giving way to a more gleaming white and, as it did, the lush green tree line turned just as ominously dark. It was changing hues so intensely I refused to take my eyes off of the sky but every blink revealed an even more glowing white with blacker images of leafed trees.
To avoid distraction from what was so awesomely changing in front of me, I could only mutter, “Everything’s turning white – every thing is turning white.” Other than a vague discomfort I had no pain, but I knew instinctively what was happening: I was dying of a heart attack. There was no question about that.
The foreboding sense of death first brought thoughts of whether bills were paid and if what was left of my living was in proper order. As if hovering over the vehicle I envisioned myself slumped lifeless in its seat. I was so intently focused on the illuminating white sky I wasn’t real sure if I was merely observing anymore.
Knowing well the inescapable truth of dying is just one more aspect of living and you only get once chance at it, I was consumed with intrigue about this experience that so baffles us. This was my opportunity to know. I wanted to see it. I wanted to experience it at every conscious level for as long as I possibly could.
As if my tether to God, if not fearing it was my only way to stay tethered to Him, I was not about to take my eyes off of the increasing white brilliance of that sky with its peripheral view of blackening tree line. After what seemed several minutes of these extremes, a rush of nausea overcame me and when I couldn’t hold up my head any longer my arms scrambled for nearby napkins and plastic bag.
I looked up again and the sky and tree line were normal. A strange disappointment set-in. Other than being weak I was none worse for the wear. We arrived home, I walked myself into the house and took more aspirin. I sat and contemplated whether going back to the local ER even made sense given how they’d dismissed me so out of hand more than once already. I decided to make that 15-minute drive back into town.
Reaffirming their hypochondriatic opinion, local ER kept me seated in the waiting area until every other person was treated and there was no one else to call. This was so typical of my life it almost felt normal. It was so blatant even the narcissist husband grew annoyed. When they finally started treating me a whole new flurry of medical staff was undeniably urgent. They prepared me for a life-flight into surgery elsewhere, which was ironically laughable given how long they’d kept me waiting. I could’ve driven it in quicker time.
They explained I’d had a heart attack … a “bad!” heart attack, everyone kept saying, with all of this renewed professional concern. Having trouble getting their needles into me they kept jabbing and I got sick again during the life flight. I was really getting weary of this stuff. The last thing I remember was the bustle of being prepped in surgery itself and some new ER guy telling me, “pull your pants down around your ankles.”
I suppose still annoyed by the stupidity of the local hospital and perhaps feeling spunkier on morphine than I probably should’ve while poised on this impossibly narrow gurney, I thought to myself, “you do it buddy.” I promptly advised him that I’d either take off my pants or I’d wear them but I was not going to “pull them down around my ankles.” I don’t know, for some reason that just felt wholly unacceptable and grossly insulting after all I’d been through and coming from some demanding know-it-all whipper snapper of a young man I’d never seen before.
In recovery and having heard from every nurse and doctor who’d tended to me say what a “bad!” heart attack I’d had, I asked the surgeon “Why does everyone keep saying I had a ‘bad’ heart attack … is there a ‘good’ one?” He explained the kind I’d had was so instantaneously deadly that almost no one gets to a hospital “in time” and how unique it was I had survived … (not that my local ER was any help whatsoever in accomplishing that).
God keeps us going through more than we – and doctors – can contemplate possible.
The narcissist husband wasted no time leaving me in ICU for his comforts of home. My 82 year old Father stayed overnight. As I recuperated the husband called sobbing like a child, complaining my aunt wasn’t compassionate when he’d called to tell her how hard my condition was on him … what a mean woman she was to not feel sorry for him. I was as shocked to look down at myself in that ICU bed – after a heart attack I’d barely survived – trying to find words to comfort this self-absorbed numbskull’s tears for his hurt feelings. That was the most surreal moment of all. You had to be there to appreciate the absurdity of it.
As for doctors, I couldn’t believe that in three-years of incessant blood labs and testing no one had monitored this condition. I couldn’t believe that any hospital’s ER staff could so blatantly mistreat someone with heart attack symptoms or, in my visits there, they hadn’t so much as done proper blood work. Some of them probably couldn’t believe and I imagine still tell the story of a woman in my dire straits refusing to ‘pull her pants down around her ankles’ for emergent heart surgery.
It was small consolation afterwards, but in follow-up with the local cardiologist, he actually apologized. He literally said “I’m sorry” for dismissing my symptoms. How many times do you hear a doctor say that out loud? Probably about as many times as those who manage to live through a ‘bad!’ heart attack.
Don’t ever take your eyes off the White Light.
In response to WordPress Daily Prompt, “Healthy.”