My Medical Riff

Sit back and enjoy a good old fashioned rant, boys and girls. Don’t sit too close though. There could be some spittle involved – unintentional, of course.

I’m not going to review my medical history with you now. You’ve either been reading along and know it already, or you haven’t. Maybe you’ll get the basic idea – or not. I’m really not sorry.

The other day I hit a wall. I wasn’t walking or driving so no physical harm done, though after paragraph two maybe you figure I got it coming. It was the metaphorical wall, the one you hit when you’re beyond the normal kind of tired.

It’s when your body cries, “no mas!” even as your mind replies, “what the hell does that mean? We’re a dumb American, uni-lingual you fool!”

Whew! Look at all the hostility fly off the screen. I told you this could be a hum-dinger.

It was 11:00 am on Wednesday after the long Memorial Day weekend – a weekend I had just gotten a LOT of sleep. Cheryl and the kids had left the previous Thursday for the long weekend in Orlando, and I was supposed to meet them Saturday morning. I never made it. A combination of a cold and fatigue kept me in bed.

So resting most of a quiet, long weekend, and working one routine day at work, I should be pretty fresh right? Nope, there was the encounter with the wall, remember? So my addled, exhausted mind tried to run down the possible causes. Thinking about it, I felt like I’d been feeling more drained over the last month or so, but I’d been associating it with my sleep disorder – though it hadn’t changed (to my knowledge).

So what had changed?

Besides the cold, which could only explain one weekend, there was only one thing I could think of: the increased dose of meds my neurologist was giving me to manage headaches. Just for kicks I checked online to see its common side effects. Low and behold, there they were: fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems (though, all of which could be explained by fatigue).

I decided the wall wasn’t someplace I’d like to live full time, so I called my neurologist’s office to share my concerns. I called first thing in the morning and stuck it out for the legally mandated eight hour wait period for a call back. When I spoke to the nurse I laid it out for her much as I did for you – the last part anyway. I told her how I thought it might be this drug because it was the only thing I could think of that had changed in the last few months. We spoke a little longer. By we I mostly mean me. She had the classic, overworked, “I’m thinking about five other things right now,” dead silence thing going for her. I was interrupted by the occasional blurted question, which she’d have to repeat. The first half overlapped something I’d said.

We had a great rapport going.

Her last question almost did something I thought was impossible. It almost cured me of my fatigue. Almost.

“I see you’re taking a lot of medication, all of it I’m sure is necessary. But what makes you think THIS ONE is making you feel tired?”





Cheryl doesn’t like it when I swear on the blog. I don’t swear an awful lot in real life, but I do have a temper that’s rare but nasty. This is one of those times when I’d like to lay it down thick enough to make Richard Pryor blush. But I’m not. Well, not a whole lot anyway. Time has passed. I’ve cooled down a bit. Anyway, back to the post.

Contrary to what you might think, I didn’t want to jump through the phone, even if it was physically possible. I didn’t have the energy. Would I fall through the phone with a big assist from good ‘ole gravity? Absolutely. Maybe I was reading to much into it, but her question almost felt like a work of art, with so much condescension dismissiveness packed into so few words. I was stuck somewhere between awe and my brain blowing its cap and incinerating everything in its path.

“Um, you heard me when I said everything else has been the same, right? When I said that I meant for months. I’ve been taking all of those other medications for quite some time without any notable side effects. Again, the only difference I can think of is THIS medication.” And yes, nurse whoever the frack you are. Several of my specialists do seem to think I need to be taking the medication I’m taking. Are they perfect, or even necessarily correct? Maybe not. But how about you lay off the fucking judging until you get your medical license and read up on my full medical history, instead of this three minute multi-tasking act you’ve got going here?

“Well,” skeptically, “you could try reducing the dose again and see if it makes a difference.”

Fuck you very much. That’s what I thought anyway, I just wanted to make sure. “Thanks, I’ll give that a try.”


  1. I can’t believe you are overlooking her brilliance. I mean, really. She could have been a doctor with a peon such as herself answering the phones but she couldn’t afford med school and now she has to put up with over-medicated patients calling and complaining just because they are unable to function normally. I mean gee whiz.

    Yes, my tongue is firmly in cheek. And, like Richard, so glad I live in Canada. I can’t believe the horrible crap you go through. If it’s not the medical system itself it’s the insurance process. Just dreadful.

    And, now that I know Cheryl doesn’t like swearing, please apologize to her for my blog. I really do need to do better. But I do like the F word. It’s so cleansing. :-)

    1. Actually, Cheryl’s objection to swearing is more about my blog and our web site – places my daughter might go… and take Adam with her (he’s reading now, no one’s taught him, and he hasn’t started kindergarten yet).

      I’ll let you in on a little secret (burried here in comments): I’d argue she drops the occasional F-bomb a little more often than I do (and I’m no saint ;-)

  2. I decided a long time ago that I know my body better than any doctor… But getting them to listen to your wisdom is a huge problem.

    Still… every time I listen to what you have to go through, I’m glad that I live in Canada.

Give the gift of words.