I had my pre-op appointment yesterday morning at 7 am. It was not a big deal, really. Just a bunch of different people asking me the same questions over and over, taking some blood work, giving an EKG, and some poking and prodding. As they were describing how the day of surgery would go, I got that cotton mouth feeling that I’ve only ever gotten a couple of times in my whole life due to sheer panic.
Given that I was in considerable pain the night before, I ended up with maybe an hour, possibly two, of sleep. On top of that, I’ve been under so much stress, riddled with fear and anxiety, that I wasn’t really as able to cope with things as well as I maybe should have been. One of the nurses who came in to ask me a bunch of questions, out of nowhere, offered up this statement.
“The thyroid gets blamed for so many things. I’m overweight, it must be my thyroid.”
…with the obvious sarcasm that no, if you’re overweight, it’s because you’re a lazy slob who eats doughnuts and pizza for breakfast… So I couldn’t help but say to her (refined for the purpose of this blog):
“The body is so complicated that you never really can be sure, but as a person who’s lived in this body through the ups and downs of six years of unstable thyroid levels, I can tell you that it does indeed affect your weight. When I came out of remission and went on tapazole again, it was like I got belly fat overnight. It was the craziest thing.”
To which she said, dismissively, “yes, mhmm…” and went on about her business. I squelched the urge to shout
“You know what lady… do YOU have thyroid disease? Have YOU ever lived through the highs and lows of thyroid levels? Just because my levels look good to you doesn’t mean that you know what is normal for me. A good medical professional listens to their patient, doesn’t just dismiss their input as irrelevant because the books you read are the end all and be all of thyroid fact. There is a lot of controversy over the “normal” range being far too wide here in the U.S. and you don’t know shit about how in tune I am with my body or how much I’ve educated myself about my disease, so you can take your “yeah, mmhhmmm” attitude and shove it back to 1982, when I thought doctors – or in your case nurse’s – knew everything and there was no reason to question or participate in my own medical care. If weight isn’t affected by thyroid, then why the shit is it on every list of symptoms to look for regarding thyroid disease? Just Feck Off!”
This outrage was let loose in the car ride home in the form of a rant, which did not sit well with my company…. I just don’t know what to do with that rage, and if I let it fester, I’m bound to have a worse experience where I’m already having trouble focusing away from the fear. I have read about and experienced a lot of this type of dismissal from medical professionals when seeking help and participating in my own treatment plan, and I refuse to believe that those people can provide better treatment than someone who listens to what I tell them is happening in my body. I am not the majority who would rather bury their head in the sand and take a magic pill everyday.
Doctors simplify things for their patients, with good reason, but things are so complex and often times patients are not even made aware of treatment options other than the one the doctor prefers. I happen to prefer to be in the know, even if it is a hundred times scarier. At least I can make the decision that feels right to me and I will not be a victim of someone else’s priorities (i.e. pharmaceutical industry influence, insurance coverage, etc.). I am fortunate that I found an endocrinologist who has been patient with me and allowed me to direct the course of my treatment because after some time, she realized I was a responsible patient. I had to prove that to her, I understand that, but she also didn’t write me off immediately just because I didn’t go to school to be a doctor.
All of this is just a symptom of the real fear, though. I feel like I’m under pressure to beat the clock. I usually take it easy on myself when it comes to personal growth. I realize that you can not force awareness or growth in yourself just as you can not force a flower to blossom. That being said, I feel that if I don’t overcome this fear before my surgery next Tuesday, that all will go horribly wrong. I desperately need to find peace before going under the knife, but if the last several days are any indication, that may not happen. Perhaps the answer is to allow the fear to be there and be okay with it. After all, courage is not the absence of fear, it is the ability to take action despite one’s fears. There can be no courage without fear. While I’m at it, here are some quotes I found demonstrating that feeling fear is part of having courage.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. ~Ambrose Redmoon
Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared. ~Edward Vernon Rickenbacker
Courage can’t see around corners, but goes around them anyway. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960
Fear and courage are brothers. ~Proverb
Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. ~C.S. Lewis
Courage is the power to let go of the familiar. ~Raymond Lindquist
To live with fear and not be afraid is the final test of maturity. ~Edward Weeks (I’m still afraid, mind you.)
Courage is knowing what not to fear. ~Plato
Optimism is the foundation of courage. ~Nicholas Murray Butler
Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway. ~John Wayne
Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die. ~G.K. Chesterton
Courage is never to let your actions be influenced by your fears. ~Arthur Koestler
Courage is a kind of salvation. ~Plato
You can’t test courage cautiously. ~Anne Dillard
I believe that courage is the sum of strength and wisdom. You take away wisdom from the equation – courage may turn to rage. ~Dodinsky
Thanks to http://www.quotegarden.com – from where I stole these quotes.