Thursday, January 30, 2014

In HIndsight

I am angry this morning. I woke up some time in the night and I started thinking about how that appointment went. How I spent a good fifteen minutes describing my particular anxiety disorder. How it's a low-grade terror which makes it difficult to eat, to think. I never once mentioned the term "panic attack." How when I asked for some medication to help, I got ten pills which are not the medication currently thought to be the best for such situations. How this medication would be impossible to take on a day like today when I have my grandchildren to tend and yes, I did mention that I take care of my grandchildren. How when she gave me the 'script she said, "In case you have a panic attack."
Which is not currently my problem. And which, as I said, I never complained of.
It seems to me that it has always been this way for me and doctors with a few exceptions. I think I can convey my symptoms in an educated, thoughtful way and then I am sent away with little help. And that's not just one doctor or nurse practitioner but many over the course of the years. How pains have been poo-pooed as if I had made them all up in my head. I do make up pains in my head but those are not the ones I take to a doctor.
The NP did suggest that I up my dose of the natural hormones for the progesterone and I have started doing that. I hope it helps. I don't want Xanax or Ativan to misuse it. In fact, when I have taken it it did not feel like a party drug. It wasn't perfect. It didn't turn me into a happy, blithe, ecstatic person. I would never take it unless I truly needed it. And I told her that.

And I'm thinking of all of that today and I am feeling angry. I know there are doctors who over-medicate their patients. Who write out prescriptions like candy. I don't want one of those doctors. I want a doctor or a practitioner who listens like that dentist did. And I truly thought I'd found such a person in this NP. She is educated, smart, and open to new things and alternative treatments. But I do not think she is educated about anxiety.

Well, that's me today.

The boys are coming very soon and it is still very cold although the frozen stuff is no longer falling from the sky. It will start to warm up today and maybe soon we shall see the sun. I need to get my head in the right place to be a good grandmother. I have made deviled eggs for Gibson and there are oatmeal cookies too. There is a little bit of watermelon and some Annie's organic macaroni and cheese which they might like although I doubt it's much better for them than Kraft. There are carrots and there is peanut butter and we have cards and dominoes and paper and paints and crayons and of course, as a last resort, we have Sponge Bob.

I am angry but I cannot be angry at my boys. And I am not just angry. I feel frustrated and I feel sad and I feel condescended to and I feel as if once again, I have been told that my feelings, my problems, are not real and not worthy of true attention. Which is a very familiar feeling and I do not like it.

And I do not want to go doctor-shopping again which is a problem in and of itself.

Here we are. And as always, we go on.


  1. what you have is real. It is not just in your "head". This is not right what they do to you. But I have given you the only solution I have, which does not involve being ignored when you explain your problem. This makes me mad also. I know you, and I know you sane and under anxiety and I can not believe they don't have something better then just take more hormones. I love you and if I can ever be of assistance, you know where I am. I will be seeing you soon. love to the boys, all of them and the girls, all of them and always to you and your dear chickens

  2. I'm sorry. I know how you feel. I don't know if doctors just aren't trained to listen...heck, some humans don't seem to be trained to listen either. I went through a bad period of depression at this time of year a few years back and it turned out that vitamin D helped me quite a bit. If you have a natural foods store in the area, I'd suggest checking with whoever is working in the vitamin area? Seems funny to suggest asking someone who probably works for minimum wage for health advice, doesn't it? But sometimes comes out better.

  3. I hope that you find a physician who is willing to prescribe something helpful. Have you tried Clonopin? It definitely helps with anxiety.

  4. I just can't stand doctors, I feel talked down too almost every time I go. I think they hear my southern twang and assume I am an idiot. Ten pills is not very many. I tried zoloft for 4 days, it was horrible, but "they" say it helps some people.
    I hope you get a good doc and the right meds. Gail

  5. It is interesting that you and I both see NPs as our primary care docs. Mine is wonderful and she would likely handle this anxiety situation very well and to my liking. On other things, though, she doesn't. She is quick to prescribe and short on any kind of follow-up, which for someone who hates the doc like I do, kind of makes me happy. But I also need someone to help hold me accountable to things health-wise. I guess that's more my problem than hers though.

    I agree, the valium is too much and too...something for what you describe. And you are 100% right that it can't be something you take when you're running around after toddlers!

    I told my mother yesterday that I am just angry all the time. I hate the feeling. I do not hate you though; you can take that to the bank :)

  6. There is a book ...The Age of was written a while ago. Explains how the new anti-depressants were created through chemistry to take the place of Valium because Valium was getting such a rap as mother's little helpers. But they are somewhat the same is interesting to read about. I thank my lucky stars I never started either...I know three women who are trying desperately to wean themselves off Elevil(sp?)an anti-depressant ...they are having such a hard time. It is not as easy to get meds as people think..."someone" is watching every prescription being written nowadays...part of the new electronic watch dog.

  7. for all their expensive education, which they will trot out everytime someone suggests they charge too much for their services, doctors really don't know how to treat or what causes a lot of things.

  8. It could be that in this case you need to ask to see a specialist. We can all give you what our experience has been and what has worked for us but we are not you, nor do we have the exact symptoms you have. But you are right in that Valium is not something you can take when you watch your babies or drive... I hope that you won't give up and that you will pursue a solution to help with the anxiety. I have been through the identical experience several times of not feeling heard but the pain has won in the end and I had to keep going back. You are worth it Mary. Sweet Jo

  9. That's maddening, Mary -- and incredibly frustrating. I imagine that part of it is that most doctors just don't know -- they really don't know. The condescension part is what makes ME angriest, and I think that has everything to do with personality and communication and how some people just DO that. I hope you won't give up trying to get some help -- or maybe enlist one of your beautiful children to help you find someone that is more of an expert on anxiety?

    P.S. Klonopin is an awful, awful drug, affecting more systems in your body than not(with all due respect to your commenters and their own experience).
    P.P.S. CBD?/Medical Marijuana?

  10. Mary, I take (generic) Alprazolam which is Xanax, 1mg. I have taken this for over 2 years when I need it. Usually once a day in the afternoon. My doctor gives me a 90 day supply. I am 69, married for 48 years with 4 sons, 3 grandchildren and 3 dogs. I am in good health, retired with an MSW…just so you might feel comfortable knowing that I am not a crazy person! I read u every day and actually wrote u about chickens maybe a year ago…I live in Inverness and also have a home in Fort Lauderdale close to my children. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your blog, if not for these "drugs" (your blog and Xanax) there would be days I could not get out of bed or off the floor.

  11. That so sucks, Sister Moon. All of it. Listening to people and collaborating on a diagnosis and plan takes time and patience. I wish all of my colleagues had that. The medical knowledge part is something a lot have but the patience to get to the answer is the part that's hard.

    In my experience, the patient almost always is right within striking distance of the correct diagnosis. Panic attacks have very specific signs and even patients who've never heard of them can describe them with aplomb. I like to use what's called "the explanatory model" - which is a practice where the provider asks the patient what THEY think is going on. Some say they don't know but many, many say they do. And it also helps us to know just what is keeping the patient awake at night with worry and it (their suggested diagnosis) can be addressed.

    I'm annoyed that someone assigned you panic attacks and even if they did, this management leaves something to be desired. Hence my reluctance about Valium. But anyways.

    You and every patient deserves to leave feeling heard. I hope and pray that the medical students and residents I teach won't be the ones who don't listen--or worse, the ones who listen but don't hear.

  12. Hello, Mary
    You know I've read your blog for years, but seldom comment, for fear of sounding unsympathetic, as I'm not.
    My sister still struggles with anxieties. I haven't seen a panic attack in years; she's pretty well divested herself of every causal situation or is able to trigger her coping mechanisms.
    As we live together, I live with it every day. I hope I know when to say something and when not.
    And I must say here I have absolutely nothing to add, except my stomach clenches for both of you when it a bad hand day.
    Interestingly, she has found a sympathetic dentist who takes care of her exactly as she expects. I see her now, too, and I only use Novocaine.
    We both use the same doctor and both consider her a royal pain in the ass. She is our gateway to specialists, as needed. When we cannot convince her each of us has demanded and received a referral to a specialists in the field that concerned us. Each of us was referred to an endocrinologist for severe thyroid problems the doctor would only treat according to "acceptable standards."
    Maybe I do have some thing to add--we have to be our own advocate.
    I do cheer for your happy days and happy family.
    And, I'll fade away again. Take care of the babies.

  13. Sadly, I think this frustrating and dismissive experience of doctors is incredibly common.
    And sadly, I do think the only option is to shop around. What if she's given you bad advice for the last x years, and things could have been really different? I don't expect much from my doctor, I want good diagnosis, respect and to be listened to. This is the baseline we all deserve.

  14. Oh yes, you said it. I sometimes feel strongly that there are two different planets that never meet no matter what it looks like from the outside: on the one planet the experts and the "experts" and on the other planet their middle aged female patients.
    There were times when - had I the energy - I would have punched in some expert's smug face, gladly, especially those all knowing men who dole out stuff like menopause and hormones with that odd shrugging of their shoulders.

    Listen to your heart and your soul and to your body and walk away from anybody who wants to belittle anything you say or make you feel stupid.

  15. Mary, I am beginning to think that there are no answers or medications that will help. I have tried everything. Yoga, meditation and Reiki. I have tried support groups and counseling. I have tried medication after medication. Yes, I feel better for a time but then it comes back. The black dog takes a hold of my throat and pins me to the floor.

    Over the years I have done everything I can think of and yet, I struggle. The newest "solution" will be Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which I have been told works. But I was told that all the other things I tired (and continue to use daily) would work. And yet, here I am.

    It seems so many are dealing with this but I think some have anxiety and depression strike each of us in a different way. There are people who spend their lives in and out of hospital and others who deal with anxiety but it is manageable. Then there is everyone else in between. It makes no sense that we prescribe the same medications for everyone, just in different dosages and frequency. Maybe in a hundred years from now it will be figured out. They say that we have only begun to research the brain.

    I don't know.

    Really, I don't know at all.

    I bet this comment cheered you up beyond measure!

  16. Mary, if it's your intuition that a prescription med might help, why not just go straight to a psychopharmacologist? I know exactly what you mean about coming away from a medical encounter realizing you weren't properly heard. It's happened to me around my own health more times than not, even though I try to choose practitioners carefully. And with a severely handicapped daughter who can't speak and has no diagnosis -- well, you can imagine how hairy that can get...

  17. This is beyond frustrating and it seems dangerous as well. Do you have friends who really like their medical practitioners? It might be time to try someone else; i know, shopping around sucks big time. But I hope you find someone who can hear what you're trying to convey.

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  19. Anger is a good sign of energy moving. That relieves anxiety - or should say sometimes it does.

  20. Oh mary. I'm so sorry and also angry for you. It took me so long to find a good midwife (who was my GP for years) and therapist. I'm with Elizabeth on this one--I have never been able to tolerate anxiety meds and have dealt with my anxiety through exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy, and a probably too often glass of wine.

    And Jesus--panic attacks are different than anxiety. I know damn well when I'm having a panic attack and they are often easier to deal with than the miasma of anxiety, which drifts in and settles like a cloud instead of the blunt instrument of a panic attack.

    I'm thinking of you.

  21. I saw something today on FB that might be cliché, but it struck a nerve with me. "Depression and anxiety are not signs of weakness but rather signs of having been strong for too long." Maybe that can help in some way.

    Georgie J

  22. I wonder if it would be productive to go back to the NP and try to clarify what you are experiencing and what you think you need. Tell her this is not a matter of episodic panicking, but a more continual anxiety. She may not feel she is equipped to help manage that, but if that's the case, ask her to refer you to someone more specialized.

  23. I am angry and frustrated for you too. Please send her this blog! UGh!!!!

  24. I love that quote Georgie J shared too! Especially true of you.


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