Perhaps it is a sign of growing older or maybe some would say wiser, that I am starting to discuss my health concerns openly with others. I never used to do this some years ago, mainly because I didn’t have many health concerns to discuss. But now that I do have some health concerns I am ready to share. In addition, discussing one’s health problems used to be more of a hush-hush topic and still is for some people. Yet with the advent of health blogs, disease specific forums, and health sites such as Health Central, people are discussing their health more than ever before. And I personally think this is a good thing. Here is one reason why. Talking to other patients can help to decrease anxiety about your health concerns. In this post I am going to talk about a recent experience I had to illustrate my point.
This week I had some anxiety provoking physical symptoms. I felt chest pressure, extreme weakness, clammy, trembly, and very unwell as though I would pass out. When I was waiting to see a doctor I worried about what these symptoms could mean. Heart problem? Diabetes? Some sort of weird virus? After I told one of the nurses how I was feeling she took me back to a room and immediately began placing sticky patches on my body in order to do an EKG. I didn’t know what she was doing or why so I became frightened. “Do you have any pain running down your right arm?” she asked. I shook my head “no” and she told me this was a good sign. The EKG took less than ten minutes and afterward she told me she could not tell me the results but that they were “reassuring.” I didn’t have much time to feel relieved because soon after she was pricking my finger for my blood glucose level. It was 115 after fasting but again she didn’t seem worried.
When you seek medical care you can almost see the wheels turning in the minds of the medical professionals. They try to rule out the worst things first as a process of elimination. Apparently they were thinking the same things that I was in the waiting room. Heart problem? No…okay let’s check for diabetes. Nope. So what’s next? I waited in the hospital room for an hour and a half to contemplate the “what else could this be?” question. Asthma? Some sort of weird reaction to my medications or supplements? Then it occurred to me that I had felt this chest pressure before. I thought about the foods I had eaten during the past week. Pot roast, spicy beans, hot wings, and pizza. “Ahhhh my gallbladder.” Could it be? Indeed it could. By the time the doctor did see me she asked a ton of questions and then pressed down once on the gallbladder spot which is located on the right side of the ribcage. I yelped in pain. I saw by the look on her face that she had found the potential source of my malaise.
An ultrasound was scheduled and I also heard them say, “HIDA Scan.” The ultrasound is to check for gallstones and the scan is to see how well or poorly the gallbladder is functioning. The doctor sent me home with very little information. I had no time to ask many questions as she was backed up already. Basically I was told to write a log of which foods caused me the most distress. I left feeling confused and anxious. And this was the point when I turned to friends for support.