Like many past doctor appointments, I left this one in tears. However, the tears were not the product of frustration or heartbreak, this time the tears I shed were happy tears. As I explained in my previous post, Preparing for Battle, I had my first appointment to get the ball rolling on seeking relief from abdominal adhesions this week. I struggled over whether or not to even make an appointment because I know that surgery is the only answer, an answer that does not thrill me. You see I have had a total of 10 surgeries in my lifetime, 8 of those taking place in my abdomen. My last surgery was 8 years ago and after I swore that I would never have surgery again unless absolutely necessary. Because of this I have suffered with bouts of pain from my adhesions during the past 8 years, but never to the extent that I have experienced during the past 6 months.
I entered the exam room filled with fear. I feared that my doctor would not see that my digestive issues were just symptoms and would waste my time with tests that wouldn’t provide answers. I feared that he would say, “You know that surgery isn’t the answer as your adhesions will just return”. I feared that he would say “sucks to be you, there’s nothing I can do for you.” I was justified to fear all of this as these words were what I heard often during the 2 year period after my hysterectomy.
During my exam, I forced myself to remain calm. I spoke slowly and clearly. I even practiced saying the correct words beforehand. One mistake I always make when describing my abdominal pain is to call it stomach pain. So I made sure to always refer to my abdominal pain as just that! I also explained that what I am currently going through is identical to what I went through when adhesions were strangling my bowls. Another thing I did was to express that I fully understand that the adhesions will return. But I will gladly deal with bouts of pain that lasts for days, weeks, or even 3 months again if it meant that I had a chance to go another 8 years until reaching my current status.
At the end of the appointment, my doctor turned to me and said “I am referring you to a surgeon” He was in full agreement with what I believed may be going on inside of me. While not pleasant, I was happy that I was extremely bloated on this day, so he could see just what I was talking about. Until this appointment, I didn’t really have a clue as to how bloated I have been or that the bloating wasn’t confined to my belly. About six months ago, the battery in my scale died and I have yet to replace it. I feared stepping on the scale at my doctor’s office because I look like I’ve gained 20lbs. On one hand I was relieved to hear that I have only gained 3lbs since I last saw him a year ago. On the other hand, it disturbs me that I am swelling head to toe. My doctor knows how much I love Disneyland and that I normally go to the park 2-5 times a month. When he heard that I have had to force myself to go once a month since December, he knew that I was hurting and that this pain was greatly slowing me down. As I left the exam room my doctor told me that I would be receiving a call soon to schedule a CT and an appointment with a gastrointestinal surgeon. With what I have been through in the past, I asked my husband to pinch me. I couldn’t believe how well this appointment went.
For the first time in what feels like forever, I was able to smile and relax after my appointment. This may have been a fluke or a sign that maybe my luck is changing. Whatever it is, I will continue to expect the worst from each appointment. I don’t do this because I am a negative person, it’s because I have found that it is best for me to expect and prepare for the worst. When I expect the worst, any good news, no matter how small feels like a victory. When I expect the best, all news seems to fall short.
I am hoping to see the surgeon soon. In the meantime, my doctor needs to decide if he wants to cancel or alter the order for my CT. Unfortunately, he ordered it with contrast and I am allergic to iodine. Because I can’t have the contrast, all CTs and MRIs have been useless in diagnosing my issues. Until then, I will just continue to get through each day the best that I can. When pain induced tears fall from my eyes, I will just wipe them away and pray that tomorrow will be a better day.
How do you approach your appointments? Do you expect the best or the worst?
Wishing you a day filled with gentle hugs and many reasons to smile,