Thursday, September 13, 2012

How It All Began

Years ago, before I realized that this would turn out to be an ongoing issue, I posted this on a different blog I was writing.  I'm re-posting it because reminding myself about the intermittent nature of this disease gives me hope that it can go into remission.  For now, a time warp back to September, 2005.

The Life and Times of My Colon 

So this is my rant about the health care system as it applies to me (a generally healthy person getting a feel for what it must be like to have chronic health problems). May also be a little bit too much information for some...I am going to try and euphemize wherever I can.

Last year around this time, I began having stomach/intestinal problems...I felt a constant churning in my stomach for about 3 weeks, and this gradually turned into incredible spasms of pain in my lower abdomen, occurring about 5-15 times per hour. These felt remarkably similar to labor pains...I was actually needing to breathe through some of them.

At first, I chalked it up to stress. I was trying to finish my school placement, we had just bought a house and were planning a move, I was trying to supplement our income whenever I possible could by working extra hours, and I was feeling pretty busy. But then I started feeling like I needed to go to the bathroom (BM) 4-5 times an hour, and more often than not, I (how should I put this...) eliminated only blood. That scared me enough to call the doctor.

I made an appointment to see the doctor who was (of course) on holidays, so I ended up seeing her 'resident'. Now I have nothing against residents in general, but this one was pretty useless. She asked me a couple of questions, hehmed and hawed for a few minutes and came up with the well thought-out diagnosis of....constipation. Now, I know my body pretty well, and I think that I would know if things were getting backed up in there. But she sent me away, telling me to eat more fiber and that was that.

About a week later, when things hadn't gotten any better, I made another appointment. My doctor was again away on holidays, but I saw another doctor on her team. She felt that my symptoms warranted a trip to a specialist, and said she would make the referral. Two weeks later I got a call from the office with an appointment in 6 months with the specialist. They wanted to do a sigmoidoscopy (at least I think that's what they called it) which is sort of like a less-invasive colonoscopy (although I don't think there are really degrees of invasiveness when you're talking about something going up your ass...). Fab.

So, now I'm just waiting. And wouldn't you know it, about a month later, all my symptoms disappear.

As the time for my specialist appointment approaches, I'm feeling a little bit nervous about the procedure. I hadn't heard from the office telling me of any "special preparations" that I needed to take before my appointment. I call, the answering machine tells me they are on holidays until the day before my appointment (understandable...I was booked for the 1st week of January). I left a message and they didn't call back. The morning of my appointment, I called and spoke to the receptionist who told me that I was supposed to fast for 12 hours before hand, as well as ensuring that I was all cleaned out inside. She asked if I wanted to rebook, and I declined at that time because I had not had symptoms for 5 months.

So, here I am, 9 months later, and it's all started up again. My first stop is again to my family doctor, except they don't have any appointments for another 3 weeks. I'm sure they'll refer me once again to the specialist which will take another half a year. What the Hell kind of system is this?? I know that I should count myself as lucky for even having a family doctor, but I don't understand how it is helping anyone to have to wait that long for a chance to see her. My family of 4 makes probably a total of 2-3 visits a year to the doctor's office...but because my dr. in involved in some program where her patients promise to call her office first and see an on-call dr. rather than visit emerg (unless it is really a life threatening thing), the government pays her "x" amount of dollars monthly per patient rather than for actual services provided. I understand the theory behind this program (keeping the emergency rooms open for actual emergencies) but all it has done is encourage family doctors to take on more patients than they can realistically manage, make more money, and actually see less people.

I know that we have a huge doctor. shortage in Canada right now, but there has to be a better way. This is pissing me off.


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