This morning I sat in meditation for about 15 minutes. Thoughts of my experience with my primary care physician (PCP) last week persistently bubbled up. I placed these thoughts aside and maintained focus on breath to prevent a reaction to these thoughts. After several attempts by these thoughts to interrupt the quiet, I told these thoughts that I would write about them this morning. And they floated off, waiting for their time to shine in the paragraphs of this blog post. So dear readers, here are those thoughts in all of their readiness to be revealed.
I visited my PCP late last week to discuss symptoms that I’ve been struggling with, and to request lab work that I felt may give me some of the answers I seek. I requested to have my thyroid function tested, adrenal function tested, and iron levels checked. I should have these results sometimes early this week.
I spent seven whole minutes with my PCP. She walked in, reviewed my medical record and we discussed my symptoms. Fatigue, anxiety, depression, insomnia, hair loss. Hair loss! My doctor got up from her stool and approached my head – she looked at the bald spot and tried to see if there were any others. (Keep in mind that this was the only thing she assessed during our visit. She didn’t listen to my heart and lungs, she didn’t check my lymph nodes, she didn’t palpate or feel anything! She just swished her hands through my hair to look for bald spots.) And then she sat down on her stool and told me that I could treat bald spots easily, but if all of my hair falls out, then there’s not much that can be done. Great. Thanks for letting me know.
I then discussed what I thought was going on with my body. Since I’m the owner of this body and have been for over 36 years. I told my PCP that I noticed a significant change in my mood after weaning my daughter from breastfeeding, and I attributed this change in mood to a shift in hormones that were no longer needed to promote lactation and facilitate breastfeeding. I explained that I gave myself a few weeks to see if this shift would balance out (it has slightly) but I am still not feeling completely like myself. PCP nodded, but then said that these symptoms were not related to breastfeeding. She laughed and noted that I breastfed for a verrrryyyy loooooonnnnng time. (Yep, I breastfed my daughter for two years.) But she followed up her little joke for one with her original response – Breastfeeding hormones have little to do with my symptoms.
At this point, I requested the lab work and explained that I am not interested in medication at this time. I just want to gain an understanding from this lab work and then formulate a game plan to help myself feel well. One nod from my PCP as she blasted through some typing on her laptop.
At the end of the appointment, PCP smiled and said “You’ve definitely been stressed out Marissa. I’ve ordered the lab work. Get your blood drawn on the way out. Is there anything else?”
My thoughts – It would’ve been nice if my concerns were not met with a joke. It would’ve been nice if my PCP actually listened to me. It would’ve been nice to not have a PCP relegate any mental illness symptoms to simply being “stressed.” No shit Sherlock.
No, there was nothing else. Appointment over. I walked out of the treatment room and picked up my visit summary on the way to meeting the phlebotomist in the lab. Upon review of my visit summary, I noted that my PCP ordered the labs I requested (good!) and diagnosed me with alopecia areata and depressive disorder. ALOPECIA AREATA!!! Huh???? I meandered into the lab with my paperwork and sat down, kind of dumbfounded. Okay, really dumbfounded. I mean, a short discussion and assessment of hair loss turned into a diagnosis of an autoimmune disorder that has it’s own foundation for fricken sake! And it certainly wasn’t discussed with me during my seven minute appointment. Gah. Not cool, especially for someone who has been struggling with being mentally and emotionally unwell.
As I write this, I can feel my jaw clench tightly. My frustrations with the healthcare system run deep for many reasons, but this most recent experience with my PCP might as well be exhibit A. I am working hard to feel better, to be well. But this visit to my doctor’s office put me in the weeds for a bit. The diagnoses that I walked away with totally screwed with me. I know better. I know that a diagnosis is necessary to put forth so that lab work can be done. Because this is what the insurance companies require for billing and payment. Which is an ass backwards approach to diagnosis, but I digress. (That’s a whole other blog post!) But sheesh…rule #1 for a health professional – DO NO HARM. Diagnosing me with an autoimmune disorder and not discussing this with me in the treatment room triggered some serious anxiety and flooded my already foggy mind with thoughts of baldness!! Gah! Harm!!!!
In wrapping today’s post up, I’m going to leave this here. If you are a health professional, or if you work directly with people in a caring profession, please meet your patient or client wherever they may be. Meaning, if they come to you not feeling well, and they are seeking answers as to why – remember that they are not just another appointment to get through. Remember that you are there to assess them and their symptoms. Remember that you are there to listen. Remember that we all have our own inner teacher, our own inner doctor. As care providers, we need to listen our patient’s (or client’s) internal channels to truly help them improve their health and well-being. To this end, please assess yourself to ensure that you are not dismissing their concerns, thereby doing harm. If every health professional or person in a caring profession did the above, then we would have more patients who feel empowered to take charge of their health. And perhaps if our patients felt empowered to take charge of their health, care professionals and providers would likely experience less burnout which would definitely improve the state of this current healthcare environment. I’m all for that…a fricken improved healthcare environment. Because as I sit here and write this, I’m hard-pressed to understand how people are supposed to get well if their care providers do not put forth these standards of care. And this very notion frustrates me to no end. Off soapbox. For now.
As always dear readers, I wish you well on your own adventures. Be well. Namaste. <3
My Mental House – Plans & Goals for Healing from Depression
Goal — To Gain Clarity
Plan — Meditate for at least 10 minutes daily, eventually expanding on the amount of time a couple minutes per day, with 20 minutes of daily meditation being the target sit time.
More Plans — Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Lights out by 10pm and wake up at 7am would be a good starting point for me.
Goal — To Reduce and Prevent Insomnia
Plan – No electronic devices before meditation/yoga practice in the morning. No electronic devices for at least one hour before bedtime. DEFINITELY NEED TO IMPLEMENT THIS PLAN!!! I’ll be in bed by 9pm tonight.
Plan – Read more books instead of staring at electronic devices, especially at night READ BOOKS, NOT ELECTRONICS!!!
Goal — To Relieve Depressed Mood, Anxiety Symptoms, and Relieve Pain
Plan — Move!!!! Yoga, Swim, Walk – DO ONE OF THESE ACTIVITIES DAILY
Yoga — Attend at least 2 classes a week, practice most days of the week for a minimum of 15 minutes a day. Practice in the morning after waking. May precede meditation.
Swim — 10–20 laps
Walk — Just get out and walk.
More Plans — Medicate with cannabis as needed.
- 1-3 inhales from a vaporizer with a CBD-rich strain first thing in the morning if panic/anxiety/pain not relieved by self care bodywork is on board
- 2–3 inhales from a vaporizer with an indica-dominant strain by 7:30pm to reduce tension and promote sleep. I feel a cannabis holiday on the horizon. Perhaps for 3 days, perhaps for longer. CBD products ordered!!!
Goal — To Nourish My Body To Heal Up From Depression, Anxiety, and Panic
28 Days of Clean Eating inspired meals – Gotta pull a recipe for tonight’s supper