In the past seven days, I have had appointments with a dentist, an eye doctor, and a psychiatrist.
This will truly be a year of a thousand doctors.
But part of that is my doing. For example, it was time to go to the dentist. More than time. Way over time, actually. Take note, kids: be sure to visit the dentist more than once every 6 or 7 years. I will need some work done, as they say, and while my dentist initially wanted to schedule me for three follow-up appointments, I managed to convince him to knock everything out in one marathon go. Therefore, I get to look forward to five hours in the dentist’s chair in a couple of weeks.
Did I mention the importance of going to the dentist more than once a decade?
The eye doctor is even longer overdue. And I do thank my enterprising volunteer for suggesting I quit trying to see an optometrist for my ongoing pain (caused I am sure by my contact lenses), and get into a medical doctor. Because not only is the pain obviously beyond a normal situation, but this we-can’t-do-anything-about-your-eye-pain-because-your-vision-insurance-has-been-exhausted-for-the-year monologue droned at me by my optometrist’s office wasn’t helping matters. Thank you, L! A visit to my primary care physician a couple of months back got me a referral to an ophthalmologist. Now, my vision insurance can be exhausted all it wants. This is getting billed to the Med, baby!
And a good thing too because the pain is being caused by my contact lenses. I have known for many years I have a degenerative eye disorder called kerataconus, which is a condition where the eye’s cornea is continually shifting, bulging, and re-shaping. And not only does this contribute to vision distortion, but these constant changes make fitting contact lenses extremely difficult. A pair I am given in July may fit perfectly then, but a few bulges and re-shiftings later, and that same pair is horribly uncomfortable by December.
And horribly uncomfortable inevitably leads to irritation. Red, inflamed, burning, painful irritation. To the point where I can’t even wear the lenses at all, and then I am in a sticky widget. I don’t have glasses (anymore), and I can’t get fitted to a new pair thanks to such horrifying vision (my lenses would make binoculars look like flat planes of glass), so no contacts means no see. No see has meant exploring non-vision-dependent pastimes, like podcasts, audiobooks, and yoga, but it also means spending all my time doing those non-vision-dependent things. I can’t even go to work when looking at my hand in front of my face is like driving a car in a solid blanket of fog.
So into the ophthalmologist I go, and he writes up two referrals. Not just one, two! Now, I am awaiting appointments with a corneal specialist to determine if he can prescribe a regiment that will retard the disorder’s progression, and a kerataconic optometrist, a woman who spends all day every day fitting patients with the same condition in contact lenses.
Two appointments down, and now three more to go! Or actually… three more coming up.
I’m still not done with the appointments from the last week either. This past Monday I stopped in to see my psychiatrist. Admittedly, I did not have an appointment scheduled until I called him Monday morning asking to see him as soon as possible, but I still count him as a doctor’s appointment in the past 7 days. Right?
As with so many illnesses, there are many days where those of us with anxiety, depression, and other such ailments, feel perfectly normal. Feel like we may not even need to be on our medications anymore. I have not stopped taking my pills, but I have had that feeling of normalcy. In fact, I feel that way most of the time, and I know it is thanks to my medications.
And that is why a crushing panic attack just over a week ago, and waves of depressive emotions that have washed over me like waves washing over a sinking ship, prompted the hurried visit to the psychiatrist. I haven’t had a panic attack since I started Paroxetine over two years ago. Depression has ebbed and flowed but these were the strongest emotions I have felt in a long time. In fact, this past Monday morning, I was enjoying my new favorite thing to do on early weekend mornings – reading on my couch while drinking coffee and watching the sun come up – when suddenly this crushing wave of despair crashed over me. One minute I am reading about the propellers on the Titanic and the next, I am feeling like everything is hopeless.
You’re so stupid. Your life isn’t worth anything. You aren’t worth anything.
The words hit me like anvils, and the tears started gurgling in the back of my throat. I put my book down and tried to draw in some deep breaths to clear my head because as soon as those awful thoughts skittered across my brain, I knew something was really off. There was no reason for me to feel this way. Just 30 minutes earlier, I felt fine. I was enjoying my coffee, my book, Charlie resting on my legs. And now I was ready to step in front of a bus. What in the world happened?
The fear set in then. I started shaking and panicking, and suddenly couldn’t concentrate on anything else but not being alone. I did not want to be alone. I did not want to be alone.
You idiot. What is wrong with you? J is in the next room; you’re not alone.
It took a few moments of repeating that mantra – you’re not alone; J is in the next room – before I started to feel the panic ebb away. I wouldn’t say I felt calm since I was still shaking like a hip hop dancer, but I didn’t feel as stricken as I had in the minutes prior.
What in the world is going on?
Thankfully, J chose that moment to wander out from our bedroom and I launched in to a description of my psychiatric episode. He had witnessed the panic attack the week before, so it didn’t take him long to say, “call your doctor and try to get in to see him ASAP. I can take the day off and take you in.” (Isn’t he a prince??)
I told him not to take the day off since I could get my lame-o butt down to the psychiatrist. Which I did later that same day. I am now on a higher dosage of Paroxetine, and I go back to see Dr. Shrink in two weeks for a follow up.
Back-to-back doctor’s appointments with now four follow-ups coming soon. But hey, when life throws you lemons, what do they say? Catch them and fling ‘em back? I may be spending more time sitting in waiting rooms in the coming months, but this is why God invented headphones, Samsung S4s, audiobooks, podcasts, and Amazon Prime music. I’ll stay busy.
I also learned the importance of physical labor and being around animals when facing daunting-ness like back-to-back doctor’s appointments. I went to Kitten Rescue on Monday, and the constant physical motion of cleaning litter boxes coupled with pauses to pet and snuggle cats, made a world of difference. I felt almost normal again.
So take that, non-stop doctor appointments! I’ll sic cat cuteness on you!!