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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

For Those About to Be Sick

The following post contains far too much information about my internal organs and my sex life. The management of this blog accepts no liability for any psychic trauma that may occur as a result of your continuing to read. Proceed at your own risk. No refunds or exchanges.

window treatment
What? Like you don't have CT films in your dining room window?

They say to write what you know, and after many months of practice, I know a thing or two about being sick. Regrettably, I just jumped into this without any training or practice; I'd like to spare you from making the same mistakes I did, so I'm passing along a few tips here.

1. Before you get sick, get in excellent shape. If you need to lose weight, do so. Shape up for your illness as though it were a class reunion. I didn't train. And this is what I learned: If you're already thin, and you unintentionally, inexplicably lose 20 pounds in three weeks, trained medical professionals will exclaim, "HOLY CRAP! You must really be sick!" However, if you really could stand to lose those 20, and you proceed to do so, these same trained medical professionals will note the rapidity as an aside, but will think, and say, "Good for you!" And they will do this even though their professional medical training has surely taught them that NO ONE (with the exception of those people who are eligible to appear on Dr. Phil, Maury, etc., because the walls of their homes must be removed to get them out) is supposed to lose 20 pounds in three weeks.

2. Select your illness carefully. None of us wants to be ordinary. Choosing a common illness is like showing up at a family wedding wearing the same dress as your cousin. However, there are better ways to express your individuality than through your choice of illness. I have always wanted to be just a bit outside the norm. But I admit, this time I've gone too far. My illness is not in their textbooks. It's not even on the freakin' internet. If I had it to do over again, I'd go with something that a movie has been made about . . . or at least something that has already appeared on House or Mystery Diagnosis.

3. Remember, when you're putting together symptoms, less is more. I went way over the top here. I piled on symptoms like I was accessorizing for an early '80s Madonna concert. Just plain tacky. This practice, my friends, will get you nothing but pissed-off doctors. They like symptoms to remain within one major system, say, the digestive system, or the respiratory system. When you start mixing and matching, breaking the rules, you're just asking for trouble. I, for instance, may have been able to stay off the Difficult Patient List if I'd stuck to diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, appetite loss, early satiety . . . even the bloating might have been OK. But no, I had to throw in laryngitis, constant feeling of my throat closing, difficulty swallowing, intermittent mouth sores, chronic low-grade fever . . . And as if that didn't annoy the docs enough, I had to gild the lily by adding pain in ALL my ribs and mysterious, painful small lumps that appear and disappear in my abdomen and flank. Yes, flank. I admit it; I have no taste when it comes to putting together a respectable set of symptoms. (Oh, and "fatigue," as a symptom? Don't even waste your time. The docs just think, "Pfft. I'd be fatigued, too, if I spent all my time going around to doctors listing all those symptoms!")

4. Practice an air of bored nonchalance for when you see words like "cyst" and "tumor" on your radiology reports. Now, this is important, and it's one of the tougher tips I'll give you. You need to know that once you select your too-many, too-varied symptoms, you're going to learn things about your insides that you will wish you didn't know. Because most of us don't have pictures taken of every part from every angle, every other week. But once you've made that bed, you're gonna have to lie in it, sister. I now know that I have cysts on liver, ovary, uterus; a "tumor" on the other ovary; a calcification on my adrenal gland; and intense metabolic activity in the uterus. This is all WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY TMI, people. A little self-knowledge goes a long way when we're talking about your insides. You're not supposed to know these things.

But once you do know them, you're supposed to forget them, or at least pooh-pooh them, when the docs say, "But that's nothing. That's not what's causing your symptoms."

Oh, you'll want to say, "But, but, but . . . we don't know what IS causing my symptoms, and these things don't belong, so couldn't it be that maybe . . . "

But if you do, the docs will say, "Bup bup bup . . . talk to the latex-gloved hand! Stop that whining! We don't know what's wrong with you, but we know what isn't! Pay no attention to those growths inside of you!"

And then you should say, "OK," and go spend hours on the internet trying to find out what is wrong with you. Because you are the only one doing so.

5. Show a little initiative by performing your own self-tests whenever possible. For example:

Susie: I have to be honest with you. That wasn't making love. That was actually a diagnostic procedure, intended to rule out "painful intercourse."

Jif: Oh . . . well, did we rule it out?

Susie: Oh, yea. I hope you don't mind being used as a diagnostic tool.

Jif: You know I'll help in any way I can.

6. Know which symptoms to keep to yourself. This would be anything that falls under the diagnostic rubric of "normal human emotion." Just don't go there. If, in a moment of weakness, after you've been working your symptoms of choice for well over three months, you admit that you're feeling, say, "anxious," or "depressed," or any such thing, you will be sorry. Oh, you'll get your diagnosis alright. The docs will be all over those words like ugly on a hospital gown.

"AHA! It's stress!" (This does not represent a flaw in any one particular doctor; it has become apparent to me that they are taught in medical school, "When all else fails, play the stress card. Your patient will become very agitated and unreasonable, perhaps even verbally abusive, thereby confirming your diagnosis. Never fails.")

7. Have an outlet for the crazy. Preferably one in which kind people appear to give a rat's ass about what you have to say. Take . . . blogging, for instance :)

file under: &Partial Nudity &Can't Make This Stuff Up &WTF Disease

60 heads are better than one . . .

Blogger Random and Odd said...

You forgot to mention the part where you email friends asking them to pray that you have worms.

I love you. Heads up.

Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

This is so well written, it would easily find a home in "The Action Hero's Handbook - How to Catch a Great White Shark, Perform the Vulcan Nerve Pinch, Track a Fugitive, and Dozens of Other TV and Movie Skills" ISBN 1-931686-OS-X

It's got steps and everything! Just like the book!

(psst, you might need more pictures of your innards. You know, for marketing.)

Blogger Susie said...

princess, you're right! I may need to do a sequel! :p

mrB, brilliant, you are! See, I took your advice right away :) Will you be my agent?

Blogger ieatcrayonz said...

Susie, I don't know how you did it, but you actually made the mystery illness funny. Kudos and hugs and M&M's to you, dear.

Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

lol! You are too funny with the images in your dining room window.

Of course I'll be your agent. First stop? A "book tour" we'll take straight to Martha Stewart. Even SHE doesn't know that x-rays only work in certain rooms.

(Think she could hook me up with Trump's daughter? Nah, never mind.)

Blogger Traci said...

I'd like to say something funny sweetie pie...because you have managed to make your journey during the past several months comical with your words. Sadly, I can't think of one funny thing to say this morning. Just know I'm thinking of you. As usual. {{{{{Susie}}}}}

Blogger Andrea said...

Have you fired any docs in this process? Because I'm about to fire one of mine and I'd appreciate any advice.

Don't ever lose that since of humor. It will keep your mind sane, even if every other part of you breaks! ;)

Blogger Toady Joe said...

As an RN, I can *so* relate to many of your descriptions / scenarios! I'm so sorry you're experiencing all this (and more). Hope you get a diagnosis and intantaneously-reducing-of-symptoms treatment very very soon!

Blogger WILLIAM said...

I must say that is one fine looking pelvis :)
and the flanks aren't bad either. And it proves that you are beautiful inside and out.

Anonymous RzDrms said...

i see london, i see france, i see booty flies near your underpants!

Blogger Squirl said...

I, too, am impressed with how well this was laid out. So funny, so true. Gotta keep that sense of humor. Maybe you should tell the docs that you make jokes about your illness online. Wonder how they'd handle that one?

Oh, and here I am giving a rat's ass about what you say. ;)

Blogger Circus Kelli said...

Vell, Miss Fairchild! I sink I zee de problem! You have no internal organs! Zat is your problem right dare!

(I haven't read the whole post yet. I've just looked at the x-rays.)

Blogger Circus Kelli said...

Wow, that Jif... I love the way he's committed to assisting you in any way he can. ;)

Love you Susie! :)

Blogger Karen said...

Oh my gosh, I hope your new doctor can make some headway with your symptoms. That is quite a collection you have there! I hope you get whatever you need to start feeling better soon. {Hugs}

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know, I know - but have you been checked for tick-borne diseases like Lyme, RMSF, even erlichia or babesia?


Blogger WILLIAM said...

By the way I will start a collection of Rat's asses for you.

Anonymous Summer said...

Susie, I'm no doctor. I'm not even a radiologist. But, looking at that left X-Ray film, I think I've come up with a sufficient diagnosis:

You have a tail. Get rid of that, and you should be fine.

Thinking of you, still...

Blogger SoozieQ said...

William, do you have a P.O. box set up yet where I can mail the Rat's Ass (that I give) for Susie? If so, please forward it to me, so I can get this Rat's Ass on it's way.

Oh I thought we were still praying for worms, have we moved on from that Susie? I need to be kept abreast of these things if I'm going to wish for the proper ailment!

Blogger Annejelynn said...

indeed, blog it baby! blog it!

(((HUGS))) from me to you!

Blogger Amy said...

I was going to suggest the same thing as Anonymous, but thought it must be obvious. Lyme Disease? Amy Tan wrote a great essay about her experience with the disease, and if memory serves, experienced a lot of those symptoms. You've probably already explored that given how much time you're searching the internets though. If not, it's worth a shot.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Susie, I guess you said the words "anxiety" and/or "depressed"? I wonder how the hell else you're supposed to feel with all this going on. Maybe you should be tap-dancing with joy or something? That just makes me mad. I had a heart murmur that was put down to anxiety. Sometimes people's condescending-know it all attitudes really piss me right the *%$@ off! Lynn

Blogger Susie said...

crayoneater thank you; M&Ms sound good right about now :)

mrB, I want you to know, I just put those films in the window to take a picture for the blog. It's not like I put my pelvic pix in the window all the time. (Only when we're having company.)
Martha is jealous. She only talks window treatments. I put the actual treatments right in the window.

traci, I'm happy to see you, funny or not :)

andrea, I did leave a doc; I think she fired me, though :(

TJ, oh honey, "instantaneously" would be a wonderful thang.

oh, william, I bet you say that to all the girls ;)
Hey baby, nice flank...

razz, no, no, tomorrow is the day I put my underpants in the window. Keep up!

squirl, thank you for your generosity with the rat's ass :)

ck, yea, that's one of the symptoms I forgot to list -- I got no organs!
I almost said, "yea, Jif goes to great lengths for me," but then I realized there are those who visit here that would just take that the wrong way, and make it far more vulgar than I intended it to be, so I'm just not going to say that. :)

karen, it is quite a collection, or as a world-renowned (I swear) doc said today, "a broad constellation" of symptoms. (He had no clue.)

GM, lyme, yes; the others, I didn't know about, but having looked them up, I have had tests that would have revealed them. I do appreciate your thoughts, though.

william, now you're scaring me. And yet, I'm intrigued.

summer, a tailectomy, you say? I told you, I like to be a little bit different :)

soozieq, you need to catch up, girl. And be careful to send only a bona fide rat's ass; do NOT enclose any worms with the rat's ass. God has already said "no" on the worm thing. (I believe that God is always in favor of us giving a rat's ass, though.)

annejelynn, thank you for your endorsement, sweetie :)

amy, that was one of the first things they looked at. I do appreciate your thoughts, though; and other people's. I am as likely to be diagnosed by a reader as by a doc at this point, it seems.

lynn, yes, I did use at least one of those words, and I was then told "it could be stress..." That's when I found a new doc -- the one I wrote about. He said the stress thing is absurd. Of course.
As I said to Jif, with all this going on, if I didn't get anxious or depressed, I would be insane. Insane, I'm not. Just crazy.

Blogger Von Krankipantzen said...

Oh yeah.....I hear you. I REALLY hear you. It is quite the journey.

Blogger hellokittn said...

Why is it I feel so guilty laughing my posterior off at your liberal application of humor ointment to your wounds?

Love and prayers :-*

Blogger hellokittn said...

Why is it I feel so guilty laughing my posterior off at your liberal application of humor ointment to your wounds?

Love and prayers :-*

Anonymous Sharkey said...

Perhaps your problem is the vertebrae that are clearly missing in the film on the right.

I think you'll find that a lot of us would be willing to part with our rats' asses for you, Susie.

(That's one of the weirdest things I've ever written.)

Blogger Jim said...

Wait..."a tumor on your other ovary"? WTF?!?!?!?

I'm glad I read this post now. I'm following up with my doctor from the chest pain scare and I was tempted to throw in "and I have this rash on my arms" but now I'll just keep it to my chest and ovaries.

Blogger Closet Metro said...

At least now you know how you'd do things differently. It's a learning experience, right?

Blogger Ern said...

I see your coccyx. Hee.

So all the symptoms you listed I was wondering if you had been checked for GERD, but then the appearing and disappearing nodules....All I can send you is prayer.

Blogger Vajana said...

I just love your 'window treatments'. They still let the sun in I see, as you still have your sense of humor.

It's funny how we went through the same thing (although you had more symptoms than I did...I followed the rule of sticking to one symptom and of course, with only ONE symptom, well, that could be just about anything) with the 'mass' that is there but isn't causing the problems...wha?

Here's to you Susie and your booty flies, may they all swarm around the doctors and give them some spell of intuitive thinking!!

Blogger Circus Kelli said...

Sharkey, I'm so sorry to say this, but you are wrong wrong wrong. If it's one thing our Susie's got, it's a backbone! :)

Blogger LadyBug said...

"gild the lily" sounds really dirty.

"Hey Baby, how's about you comere and gild my lily?


Sending love, hugs, and many prayers your way, dear Susie.

Blogger Effie said...

Darn, I commented yesterday and nothing showed up. That's been happening too often....

...I was just rereading the comments and noticed that William said you have nice flanks--he's looking at your BUTT--is Jif gonna put up with that? hmm? Teehee

Hugs to you, my dear and continual prayers too! I emailed ya...

Blogger Nina said...

Count me in for a thousand of rat~asses. Whatever it takes to get you well. I think it was very nice of Jif to help you with your diagnostic procedure. But you should have said well it was inconclusive, so we have to repeat the test.

Blogger eclectic said...

20 lbs in 3 weeks?? And nobody thinks that's of concern???? You tell them your lawyer disagrees, and not all that respectfully, either.


OK, fine... I'll be nice, for you. But they best take good care of my sister, or I'll bring my sword out thereand go all ninja on their rat asses.

Blogger Susie said...

kranki, yea, I know you know. "Patient" is a role I will be very happy to give up, and soon, I hope :(

chchchchia, you feel REALLY guilty, don't you? Well, just stop that. I miss helping people laugh; it helps me to know that you laughed :)

sharkey, well, nobody's perfect. It's only a few vertebrae missing. I'm glad I inspired you to say something weird :)

jim, yea, when you tell the doc about your ovarian problems, that's gonna be more than enough to keep the two of you busy for a while :)

CM, boy, is it ever, a learning experience.

ern, see email. Prayer is no small thing, my friend. It is plenty, and will be enough. Eventually (you listening, God?).

jana, I like that image. May the docs be swarmed.

ck, thank you :) Some days, yes, some days, not so much.

ladybug, ahem. Leave it to you to bring the dirty. (Seriously; since Bucky's not here, we're leaving it to you.)

effie! don't come over here causing trouble! Flank is not "butt," unless you're a horse! Are you calling me a horse? I said I LOST weight, Effie! And I don't have lumps in my butt! Yet. Unless you're counting cellulite. Now, why would you want to come over here, where I am so obviously having such a tough time, and direct everyone's attention to my cellulite? You are COLD, Effie. Cold, I tell you. Don't you think I've made myself unappealing enough here, with the diarrhea, and the mouth sores? Do we need to haul out a lumpy butt, too? Cheez! I do try to tone down my appeal, keep the married men from running amok, but you've gone too far.

nina, " Count me in for a thousand of rat~asses." I feel quite confident you've never said those words to anyone before, and I feel very special :)
Doh! Why didn't I think of that, with the inconclusive test? That's OK, I'll think of something else he needs to help me rule out ;)

ninjalawyer, I know. They did take it seriously, but I think not as seriously as if it had left me emaciated, which, um . . . it didn't. :)

Blogger JessicaRabbit said...

I wish I had read this before I got sick too, would of saved me time and trips to about 4 different doctors.

We need to form a union of sick people who arent going to take it anymore.

Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

If you'd like, we can do some "research" here too.

You know, long-distance simulation testing?

Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

Gee you're bony.

Listen, let's work on the things that it ISN'T. Like, cobra bites and crocodiles. See, we've eliminated two possibilities right there. Just keeping going on that path and pretty soon you will be down to what it is. Probably something like housemaid's knee and hip.

I much appreciate your writing, Susie. You're a wonder.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

just logging on to let you know that it looks like "primetime" this evening is all about you: mystery illnesses, symptoms, diseases...and medical miracles!

Anonymous RzDrms said...

(that last comment was from me, but it didn't give me a space to type my name.)

Anonymous peaches said...

I love you.

Blogger LadyBug said...

Last night I dreamed you had updated your blog with some wonderful news. So of course I had to check this morning.

I hope you get some wonderful news soon, dear. Love, hugs, and prayers to you.

Anonymous OddMix said...

I had CT scans in my dining room window just last night. Mine were of my head. They found my grain, but two of my sinuses seem to have gone missing.

Anonymous OddMix said...

Crap. Brain, not grain.

Blogger Circus Kelli said...

OddMix -- your comments cracked me up! It's good they found your brain. When I had an MRI of my head last year, they didn't find nuttin.

Anonymous Katy said...

You crack me up! And I have started lifting 10 pound dumbbells in response to your #1. I'm wondering about false positives/negatives for #5.

Blogger SierraBella said...

I noticed both your tail and your lack of vertebra, as did several other commenters.
Methinks you need a good hard spanking to put all that stuff back where it belongs.
I'm seriously hoping your newest doctor can find a cause and get to fixin' you up!

Blogger Susie said...

jess, ok, I'll be in that club. Can we have special hats?

bucky, you'll need to submit a detailed proposal on that um . . . proposal. But I think we can get it approved.

hoss, that's a way of counting blessings, thinking of all the things it ain't. My docs are of the same school -- they're real good at telling me what it ain't. Thanks for your kind words, hoss. Sometimes I wonder about myself, too.

razz, I watched to see if I was on there, but nope, it was people who did crazy things in their sleep. I do my crazy awake.

peaches, I love you too, sweetie. You're on my mind and in my prayers so much.

ladybug, keep dreaming. I like that. I look forward to making your dreams come true :)

oddmix, you might have accidentally diagnosed yourself, here. Was there a grain in your brain? That can lead to all sorts of trouble, including escaped sinuses :)

ck, I haven't had my head examined yet; although I guess that's obvious here.

katy, that's what I'm talking about. If, I mean when, I get through this one, I will definitely be in better shape before the next one hits. And you make a good point. Number 5 really needs to be re-assessed from time to time; things change.

sierrabella, that is a very interesting treatment you're recommending. I'll let you know...

Anonymous Barb said...

You've probably already discussed lupus and other auto-immune disorders. Still praying AND keeping my fingers crossed at the same time. (Difficult for a person with limited talents to do.) Your continued sense of humor is amazing and definitely has role in your eventual cure! Best wishes.

Blogger Circus Kelli said...

Still thinking of you, Susie. William and I wanted you to know we give a rat's ass -- each of us! :)

Blogger Nilbo said...

Anybody can give a rat's ass. I'm hereby offering you mine.

You pay the shipping.

Blogger Susie said...

barb, yes, I've had blood tests that they say would show markers for lupus, but nothing yet. There are many autoimmune illnesses; may still be something along those lines. A sense of humor has always been part of my salvation; sometimes it slips, lately, but I'm trying to hang onto it. Thanks for the encouragement :)

ck, thanks to both you and william for your rat's asses. They are really starting to accumulate!

nilbo, I may have to rethink this whole rat's ass thing. Thanks to Nina's over-the-top philanthropy, I think I'm up to about 1,006 rat's asses here. I can't afford 1006 rat's asses C.O.D. And I'd better start cleaning out the spare room.

Blogger Amy said...

Wow. I can't help but admire you for writing with such wit whilst in the throes of such utter crap, Susie. PROPS.

You could sing to Jif

"Doncha wish your girlfriend had
probs like me?"
Doncha wish your girlfriend had
unexplained symps like me?"

Blogger judypatooote said...

Susie I think about you and all your going through, even though I don't know you personally....I know I love reading your blog, and this article was so well written.. Even all that you are going through you still have a sense of humor......May God be with you and make you well again.....your blogging friend judy.....

Blogger Julie Julie Bo Boolie said...

I hope you don't mind that I linked this post.. it's freaking BRILLIANT!



Blogger The other me said...

Oh no....now I have read your blog I am going to have to find something else to stop doing in my life, hmmmmmmm, laundry I suspect, you are funny, very funny, I am sure you will heal yourself as laughter is the best medicine, that'll show the doctors who the smart one is. You'll find a cure before they even name what you have. The dining room is the absolute most perfect place for those films.

Blogger ...jus me said...

Susie, I just found your blog, through "random and odd". I am sorry you are having so much trouble. Doctors don't know it all. To them it is a process of elimination. I have found this out several times. My doctor calls me his very own "Katrina" Guess I have a lot of health issues...blah blah blah! Just don't forget that you know your body better than anyone else, and if you feel strongly about something, don't quit telling them until someone actually listens and they get you some help for it!

Blogger Mainline Mom said...

Susie, I realize I'm way late in commenting here but I've been away and very lax in my blog reading of late. So sorry to hear of all your trouble, amusing as you make it sound, which I am sure it really is not. I concur on the "anxious" or "depressed" statements...once I went to the doc for major chest pain and dizziness and when she saw in my history that my dad had died a few months before she immediately handed me an anxiety medication questionaire. I told her I was not depressed or anxious, but she said "you're 23, you're too young to have anything serious wrong with you." I fired her. She was wrong.

Anonymous Lily said...

Wow! I can relate. Most definitely. Most definitely.

Thanks for the post, it cheered me up in an odd sort of way to find some fellowship on this.


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