Monday, 14 November 2011

The Sophie's Choice of Illness...

I had an interesting conversation with the Immunologist today.  We were discussing the possible use of steroids to alleviate my pain.

He was a REALLY cool guy and I totally appreciated his direct, human approach especially when he said, after listening to my description of how I feel, "So you feel like shit?"
"YES!" I responded with more animation than my energy level appreciated.  I was just so, bloody, excited to have a specialist (a professor no less) really listen.

Anyway, the steroid discussion...  Now remember by now we have a rapport and I think he is shooting straight with me...

"Would you take ten years pain free if it meant that you would develop diabetes and die prematurely?"
"Ooooh, I'm not sure about that.  I only recently lost a close friend to complications from diabetes and it was not pretty."
"I would.  But that's just my personal opinion, it's an individual choice."

This is a conversation I could never in my weirdest, most intoxicated, most bad-acid-tripping dreams have imagined being a party to.

Fortunately for the moment it is a pre-conversation and I don't have to make that decision right now.

Tomorrow more bloods,  The pathology request form is literally so full of things he is testing for that he wrote in the margins and in the space above and then drew a big circle around it to make sure they knew they were all tests,  He chased (I use the term loosely because a greyhound really doesn't have to chase a snail) me out to the reception to add a few extras that had just occurred to him.  Some of the things he is testing for are pretty scary and for now I really don't want to get too freaked out about things like brain-eating antibodies and cancer-companion-inmuno-oddities,  so we'll just have to wait and see.  He did seem pretty interested in Sjogren's.  The good thing is he is looking and it could be good news if he found something and it could be good news if he didn't and it could be terrifying if he found some other thing and depressing if he finds nothing... so win/win - lose/lose who knows?

He is also sending me for an MRI of my brain - which no one has bothered to do before,  I know there is a brain in there, I have a picture to prove it, because I had an ear infection they thought was eating into my brain back in 2007 and they did a CAT scan then.

I think I will call him Professor McCool 'cause he was really a pretty cool dude, I might start calling him HOUSE if he figures this out!...He spent an hour and fifteen minutes with me and I think that is pretty amazing, all on the government health care system.

Any of my US friends who think that Universal Health Care would give you a lower standard of care than the system you have now is Captain Rats (sorry, you are certifiable).  In the USA I NEVER, even with full medical insurance, received this level of care or this degree of genuine inquiry AND in spite of paying huge amounts of money for coverage every paycheck I was still co-payed to death!!!  Health care is a business in the US and a service here... the whole mindset is different!  Not that it is perfect here, nothing is.  But a public patient nobody, like me, can still get in to see the best and brightest in the country and that is really quite impressive.

(PS Just Kidding about the acid trips)


  1. What a difficult decision to make. I have both and I don't think I could make a decision like that.

  2. Hey Displaced, you and I have GOT to stop living each other's lives! My goodness.

    I had a similar conversation a few months ago with my pain doc, but it was more in terms of blowing my liver and kidneys with meds. He was so flippant about the side effects of some of the crap he has had me try and never wants to discuss side effects.

    So, I asked him again- "what about my liver and kidneys on this stuff? I understand that this type of dose is very, very hard on the old organs". His response "yeah, it is, but you will have a few good years then can be put on the organ recipient list- you can always swap out your organs". Like it was ordering a latte at Starbucks!

    I think we all have to carefully assess the repercussions of taking medications that can be so harsh on our systems.

    It seems like we are just swapping one problem (or adding one) to the stuff we already have- not really getting relief, just trading conditions. This choice makes me really, really nervous and uncomfortable.

    The last choice I made like that was an angiogram that went bad, and put my 20ish self into the cardiac unit for 3 days. I felt like I was circling the drain. Not pretty. I vowed to make more considered choices and not take so many risks for relief.

    But, sometimes there is no good choice. Living a life that has less or no pain is seductive. Promises of a better life are too good to pass up sometimes, which is totally understandable.

    I wish this were easier, and far less risky, my friend...

    And yes, I totally agree with your sentiments about universal healthcare. Canada shares a similar system, I hope we never get into the mess they have in the States.

  3. Wow... what a thorough guy Prof McCool is. You are lucky landing someone who is willing to spend more than an hour with you discussing your condition, even here in The Lucky Country. I hope all those blood tests bring something positive to the party, something that can be addressed.

    As for the choice...dunno what I'd do either. I can't imagine your constant, chronic pain.

  4. Mildred - I'm really sorry that you have both and the choice is a tough one.
    Jazz - smh... you and I barely need to write we speak so often with one voice!
    Carinthia - how is your week looking for lunch? It will need to be cheap but I could do with a friend.