When you have chronic pain and issues with depression and anxiety, you place your trust in your physician. Sometimes that trust is misplaced. Sometimes the person you trust the most is not the person you thought. Not that they mean to be harmful–sometimes they just don’t listen or understand. They are too busy and too rushed…
I have suffered from depression and anxiety for the past 5 years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had surgery, then chemo and radiation. Once treatment was over, I thought I would return to a normal life. I tried and tried to overcome the physical and mental issues that dogged me. But I could never feel like I was making progress. In fact, things just kept getting worse. I won’t bore you with details, but take my word for it.
I have a wonderful therapist who has really helped me to regain some of my sanity. She has taught me techniques to use when I have negative thoughts. I now understand that my thought cause my feelings. Having tools to deal with those is a great help. My depression has improved a lot, and I have had very few anxiety attacks recently. I get very anxious when I find lumps in my breasts, but so far the cancer has not returned, but I can deal with that better now. My therapist thought I should talk with my doctor about trying to cut down on medications. Several of them are associated with depression, and she hoped that would help me get better faster. We both thought my medical and physical issues were a result of my cancer treatment, and that all of the drugs were not helping me deal with those.
I am on 9 different prescription medications, and I also take four OTC meds–prescribed by my doctor. I also take 9 prescribed supplements. This is just too much!
Over the past year, my medical and physical issues have continued to worsen. I have extreme fatigue, I can sweat sitting still in a 65 degree room, I have shortness of breath, burning in my chest, just to mention a few of the symptoms. One night I was sure I was having a heart attack (Doxorubicin–the chemo drug–attacks your heart, along with other organs–it doesn’t limit itself to cancer cells–it attacks your DNA–everything). Two weeks ago I went for a walk at a nearby park. I walked a half mile to see some baby Owls. I barely made it there. I sat on the ground for 45 minutes before I felt like I could get up and walk. I had to stop about every 100 yards and sit in the shade, sweating profusely and unable to breathe. I would force myself to get up and walk some more, but the last time I had to stop there was no shade. I thought for sure I was going to have to call the park office and have someone come and get me. Eventually I was able to get up and make it to the car. I opened all of the windows and turned the AC up as high as it would go. It took 30 minutes for me to feel like I could even drive. I knew something was very wrong, and that it had been worsening for a long time. I just didn’t know what it was. I told my neighbor that I would text her if I felt like I was having some kind of serious episode, and she checks on me almost every day.
I mentioned these symptoms to my doctor at every visit over the past year and a half. But he only concentrated on my depression and anxiety. When I looked at my records online, every visit was just noted as “Depression Recheck.” There is no mention of the other issues.
I had a doctor visit last week, and I asked my doctor if there were any drugs that I could stop taking. He didn’t prescribe all of the drugs–some are from my Oncologist, Rheumatologist, and Neurologist. But, my PCP is supposed to be the one coordinating all of my care. I thought he was…
When I asked, he looked at his computer and said I needed to have some blood work done. Although I had blood work done several times over the past year, it seems that none of it was the mandatory blood work for a person taking thyroid and statin meds. It had been a year and a half since he had ordered those tests. Of course, I was clueless. I would get a message from him after every blood draw that said everything was fine. I never looked or questioned this. I trusted him. I assumed that I was just never going to get better.
As it turns out, I was very over-medicated according to my test results. I got a message from my doctor, and all it said was that he had called in a new prescription for my thyroid meds. I looked at the test results and my TSH value was 1/4th of normal. I looked at the side effects of too much Levothyroxin. Turns out I have every single one of those symptoms. All this time I was blaming the cancer treatment and the continued chemo drugs that I take for all of these issues. But, it turns out, it was over-medication. It just kept getting worse because it wasn’t checked, so I just kept taking this high dose. As I thought about it, I was pretty upset that there was no “sorry I didn’t check this when I should have.” I realized he apparently didn’t care.
Well, my trust in my doctor has evaporated. I have had women doctors for years before I started seeing this man. I called and made an appointment with a new doctor for this coming Monday. I have mixed feelings about it, but I have lost the trust that I used to have in my PCP. My new doctor is a woman.
I’m not saying that male doctors are bad. In fact, the very best doctor I ever had was a man. He listened, he was never in a rush, and he took everything seriously. But I think I need to talk to a woman now. I think she will understand how frustrated I am.
After receiving those test results, I started to realize that my doctor was always in a hurry. He never asked questions about the things I told him. And, it turns out as I look at my records that he never documented them. I think he thought maybe I was crazy or a hypochondriac. I am neither–just a person suffering from something he could have fixed long ago. I feel betrayed.
The appointment I made for Monday is an extended first-time appointment. I asked that she go over all of my test results and medications over the past year and help me find a way out of this mess. I printed them to take with me.
I have high hopes that soon I will feel at least some better. And I look forward to trying to deal with everything else.
I’m sorry this is so long, but I just had to get it off my chest and onto something else.