Okay, what the fuck do I have to do to get a doctor who has a little persistence? I do not expect to get House, for fucks sake, but I do expect someone to at least follow through on what they say they are going to do. On our first appointment I told him my symptoms; that I’ve been having transient symptoms since my Whipple in 2003, but that they’d ratcheted up in May. I’ve lost 20 pounds since July without trying...yeah, that’s AWESOME if you’re trying, and seriously I would by lying if I didn’t look in the mirror at times and say “Looking good in those jeans, Sweetie!” But when you aren’t trying and no matter what you eat, it goes straight through you and makes you feel like you alternately are going to throw up, or you’re being stabbed in the gut and poisoned at the same time, it’s shall we say...disconcerting.
So at our last office visit I told him three things:
- My symptoms are better and the weight loss had seemed to slow, but not stop.
- I was still having some symptoms every day.
- I do not eat during the day because of those symptoms, so I’m really controlling symptoms with fasting as much as with my diet and Creon.
He had me do a test on my way out that showed that my pancreatic enzymes had fallen, even though I had Creon on board from that morning’s breakfast about 90 minutes earlier, and of course had taken it the day before at all meals. That was when he brought up EPI. However, I did not know (since it was brought up in an email) if it was a diagnosis or a “it might be” so I was confused.
In fact, I just made the mistake of eating some nuts because I’m hungry, and I can feel symptoms starting. Darn it!! No, nuts are not something I shouldn’t eat. It’s just that any food kicks off at least minor symptoms.
So does that sound like things are good? I think he hung on the first one. Better is not fixed. Better does not mean I’m satisfied. It is like, “Well it was flames but now it’s just embers.”
So I went back to my GI PA.C. Who is not a pancreatic specialist, but at least listens to me. She is a GI specialist. I’m done with doctors who don’t listen and I’m tired of pain.
So she is going to get his records, even though I always ask to have them sent to her and my doctor there (who is another “I fixed you, right?” Doctor who I don’t like going to....really I never have this attitude, but these two are just....).
She said that if I respond to the Creon and my enzymes are where they are, that’s how they determine EPI, so I do have it. (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency or the fact that my pancreas is slowly losing its ability to make digestive enzymes so that makes me sick because my body isn’t digesting its food). It isn’t fatal or anything, just uncomfortable and something I have to manage. She’s going to also see if there is anything else. She said I can take Imodium before meals when I’m out to try to head off the symptoms. I grabbed them, or thought I did, today...but it was something else. LOL. Dumbass.
She looked at my weight, and was alarmed that I had lost 10 pounds in the month since I’d seen her. Yeah! It is alarming, isn’t it!? Looking like an extra in Coco alarms me too! Okay, it’s not THAT bad. I fall just on the line between “healthy” and “underweight” and somehow I still have back fat.
It is so strange to feel like my life has been taken over by doctors and pain, when it used to be all I thought about and talked about outside of my teaching was running and exercise and how much it enriched and enhanced my life. Now I am so proud if I get even a two mile run in because I feel so crummy all the time. I felt like I was getting used to the brain pain because it has been almost six years. It’s not better, and in some ways it’s worse. But this EPI thing? I just don’t get it.
Warning: Whiny rant ahead...
I don’t get it. I take such good care of myself. Not to the point of Gwyneth Paltrow steam cleaning my clam and making my own organic linens, perfect so you want to slap me, but I take care of myself. I eat mostly healthy food (Lucky Charms is a food group, so shut up) and I exercise. I lost the weight that as unhealthy. I chose a career path that was/is a path of giving/social service and as a teacher, I give my heart and soul to my kids. Just today I told three kids, individually, how much I care about his success and how I will always be there for him. I meant every single word. You can ask my best friend, who is also a former student. I have their backs in thick and thin. I work within the community through a non-profit to raise money for local people or families in need and take NO profit from it myself, ever. I don’t want riches or fame. I just wanted a simple life where I could make at least a small difference. I still have goals and ambitions I want to meet, but I have been hit with two chronic conditions that make me feel like shit most of the time and I just don’t get it. I don’t understand why. I don’t get the lesson. I don’t get what I am supposed to learn from this or how it’s supposed to mold me into the right vessel or person. I believe things happen for a reason. When I had my original tumor in my pancreas and they found it SO early so I never had to have chemo or anything, just my Whipple (which was no picnic, but still) I felt like there was a purpose...that was why I embraced health and fitness so strongly because I learned what it felt like to be so sick I literally was afraid to close my eyes to sleep at one point. I was afraid I would wake up again.
But the brain hemorrhage and never ending headaches, confusion, frustration? Maybe it’s to give me empathy for my students who struggle. I don’t get the digestive issue. I know why it’s happened. Most people with a Whipple end up with it, but why? It just frustrates me so much. It’s so hard to accept that it’s just “sucks to be you!” And I have to suffer with feeling sick all the time when I’d rather be out running or teaching a boot camp class while someone else is perfectly happy being a complete couch potato, not taking care of his or herself, and they remain perfectly healthy. I am not saying they “deserve” it more, but I am saying that it would make more sense for a sedentary couch potato to be stricken with these illnesses, so it is hard not to feel “why me” sometimes. Not only does it keep me from doing things that enrich my life, but it is keeping me from doing things that help others, and that hurts the most.
Next year I’m sure I’ll be teaching half time, so less kids will be impacted. I’ve cut down on teaching my fitness classes and personal training one on one. I can’t handle it. As it is, I can’t handle what I do have and cry almost weekly because I’m so overwhelmed. I can’t bring myself to give it up, yet, because it was a dream of mine and I can’t let that dream die. I worked hard for it. But next year, I’ll probably have to drop that too because it’s a business that costs us money. I have goals that include, very seriously, running for public office but can I do that with two chronic conditions that can take me down at any time? I don’t know. So do I even consider it? One or the other, maybe, but both? It just feels so hopeless like I shouldn’t even bother to make plans.
Then when I think that way I feel like “But others go all over the place and talk to Congress and shit, why can’t you be someone like that?” And I feel pressure because I’m not some Hallmark Story of Wonder Womanness running across a finish line breaking the tape, or even stumbling across the finish line, with a Nobel Prize in one hand and a perfectly brined brisket in the other. I’m just me and I’m not amazing. I’m in pain most of the time and I only want to go back to being normal me full of energy with tons of dreams left for my life that now just seem fucking impossible.