Doctor & Patient: The Follow-Up

**Potential trigger warning**

I think my doctor is a compatible astrological sign and/or is perhaps magically able to defuse angry women. I realize sometimes it’s a little like talking to a cornered animal or a small child, except when it’s me, I can’t be likened to either; I’m more like a venomous tornado. He handled my appointment with grace, class, ease, and owned his mistake 100%. I can count on one hand how many doctors I know who would have owned up to a major error, and he’s maybe one of three, if that. Anyone who has dealt with an asshole in the medical community knows precisely what I’m talking about. This doctor is in the teeny, tiny minority because he has managed to maintain his humanity, sense of humor (I’m pretty certain his sense of humor is why I like him so much. I can appreciate someone who can match my sarcasm, snark, and wit.), and the ability to stay grounded. I hope he never changes, because it would be a damn shame. I walked in enraged, and walked out laughing. I’m not that moody, not even for a Scorpio, but again, refer to my opening line.

I spoke, he listened, and we discussed possibilities for me to meet with someone who fits the criteria of what I need moving forward. He could have blown me off; instead he tried to problem-solve, and that is going above and beyond in my eyes. A far more jaded doctor would have passed me off to someone else, simply for being honest. God forbid you point out to another human-being that there’s a flaw in the system, or that they, themselves, are not perfect. Denial is not just a river in Egypt for some.

I’m proud of myself for handling this without reverting back to the old, angry version of myself who definitely would have handled things in a much more brusque manner. Despite being angry, I was calmer than I thought I’d be once I sat down. I know the initial look on my face was anything but cute, but that frosty look is my usual, unapproachable “Don’t fuck with me” look. I have scared postal workers with that expression; I know it’s not a good face. My doctor, all credit to him, seemed concerned, but unphased. He knew something was wrong, he just didn’t know what it was. Once he heard me out, everything was okay. In no way, shape, or form was he pacifying me, nor did he come off patronizing. I know the difference, and I would have walked out if he’d tried it. He’s too smart for that level of nonsense, and he earned another layer of my respect for keeping things real.

I know a lot of people would not have gone back, and many would not have been able to go back and be honest with him, but I’m no ordinary patient. I believe in full disclosure, even if I keep certain things private and keep pieces of myself to myself; I still don’t believe in accepting bullshit from anyone and eating it politely with a knife and fork. That’s not my style, nor will it ever be. I lack the ability to bite my tongue. I’d rather be honest and say what I’m feeling, as opposed to keeping it inside. That’s not healthy.

As I write this, it seems as though my ulcer is acting up once again, so I definitely don’t have the time to hold any more stress or anger inside my body. I need healthy outlets, and writing has always been my first line of defense because it’s one of the clearest most concise forms of communication. You don’t write as long as I’ve been writing if you don’t have something to say and have some serious talent to back up the words, otherwise, words are just that; words.

Did I feel better walking out of this appointment? A little. I’m glad I was my usual honest self and got the majority of the anger out of my system, but ultimately I still came away upset, just not at the doctor. He admitted that he wouldn’t have asked certain questions if I’d looked more closed off. If I had looked like I had a wall up, he wouldn’t have dug so deep. I wanted to point out that just because a woman has makeup on, it doesn’t mean she’s an open book. Yes, I answered his questions. I did side-step a few, whether he noticed or not is another subject entirely, however, is wearing makeup what’s hindering me in getting proper care? It made me wonder if that has been an issue for the past ten years or so; the simple fact that I don’t walk into doctor’s appointments looking like death, which is usually how I feel on the inside. Is that REALLY what people are paying attention to?! Is everything artifice? I do believe it’s called “Invisible Illness” for a reason. Thirty minutes of my time to look human may seem ridiculous, but that thirty minutes calms me down so that I actually go to the damn appointment. Some doctors recommend coloring books to their patients as a form of therapy. Well, makeup is art therapy for me. It wasn’t even my best work or full-on glam. Let’s not judge the broken, pretty mess by her packaging. Let’s not make assumptions. It sort of makes me want to show up in sunscreen and mascara next time, just to screw with him. However, that’s my “It’s over 90 degrees and I’m going to the grocery store in sunglasses” look. I try to look a little more human and pulled together when I’m face-to-face with someone.

In hindsight, I realized that nearly all of my doctors, both past and present, are men, save one. I have an appointment in August, but I’m not about to ask another woman how she feels about my eye shadow blending skills. <rolls eyes> The first time I was there, the nurse went on and on about how good I smelled. That’s such a girl thing because my friends do it all the time with me. Women notice things that men do not. Men are more visual, but I don’t wear makeup for men; I wear it for me.

In my dealings with my beauty blog, I have sponsors, so I’m occasionally paid to write honest, unbiased reviews (Yes, they’re coming to the right person.) and I’m constantly trying new products revolving around hair, nails, skin, and actual makeup. It’s something I do for fun, something I hope will one day become more. However, the pain I experience has already held me back these past few years in terms of expansion, of starting a YouTube channel, and branching out. I re-branded last year, but my confidence levels are nonexistent, so if I’m not comfortable posting a photo of completed work to Instagram, then I’m definitely not ready for a camera in my face 3-4 days a week when I need to be filming. Despite support from my friends that I am definitely skilled enough to do it, I don’t feel ready. But does that mean I should be taken less seriously when seeking medical help? NO. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Or in my case, its skill-set. That’s not even 1/100th of what I can do in this world, and by judging it, you’re taking me down to less than a centimeter. Not cool.

After my appointment someone asked how I was feeling mentally, and I said “Let’s face it; I’ll never be okay. This is not fixable. Maybe if someone had done something to help me when I was six, or seven, or eight, I’d be okay now, but they didn’t. I feel neglected. I feel like my life isn’t my own. No one should have to carry this pain with them, this knowledge, and have to keep on living.” I then realized I’m deeply upset, and there’s no fixing it. I could go to a hundred doctors and there’s no cure in sight. I am who I am; imperfect, shattered, hilarious, loyal, honest, goofy, inappropriate, a permanently exhausted night owl, the person everyone turns to in a crisis or for advice, the girl “most likely to take a bullet for you”, the person described as “part lawyer/part doctor/part pitbull”, the psychic/spiritual guru for friends and for many of my close family members, mother to Cat and Kitten, a kickass Godmother, a truly amazing sister, and the very best friend anyone could ever have. I wear so many hats and own so many titles. That’s my “normal”.

Beneath the positive, there is also a lot of fucking pain. You can’t mask that. No one sells “You’ve been through hell” concealer, or everyone in this world who suffers from an invisible illness of any kind would be stocking up. I look in my own eyes and see it. They may look sparkly and green in the right light, to the right person, but to me, that’s predominantly a sign of intellect and personality, nothing more. I have a dark, twisted sense of humor. People either enjoy it or they stare at me and say “I don’t get it.”, which usually results in the response “Bless your heart.”, mostly because I don’t have time to explain it to someone if it goes over their head. I’m quick-witted and even quicker with my sarcasm. You either get it or you don’t, but it’s not intended to be offensive, unless my tone changes or I intentionally speak a different language in front of you.

Suffering from depression isn’t just abysmal highs and lows. For me, it’s living in pure darkness and trying to find shards of light scattered here and there. Light comes in many forms for a creative type. I love learning how movies are made. I am fascinated by certain aspects of history. Certain artists intrigue the hell out of me. I actively study parts of the world that most people will never see in person. I have traced my ancestry back to 85 B.C., which was no easy feat, and I’ve researched cats so thoroughly that you can ask me anything about domestic or big cats. I never stop learning. And yet, I openly and honestly discuss suicide in the same breath. I don’t believe in hiding it. I don’t believe in masking the pain or lying.

Last month, one of my cousins tried committing suicide via overdose. It deeply affected her oldest daughter and other family members. While they are all taking it personally and questioning the kind of person she is, I’m the one person who seems to truly understand how much pain she is in to have hit rock bottom. I know how awful it is, and I refuse to sit in judgment of her for it. In fact, all I want to do it help her. I’m sick of their attitudes. They’re acting like it’s all about them when the truth is; her pain has NOTHING to do with them and EVERYTHING to do with being strong for decades and finally breaking down. I didn’t realize how deeply it affected me until I broke down in the shower one day last week. I am deeply concerned, especially now that she is back in the hospital for the third time. What they deem as selfish, I see as a diamond in a pressure cooker. That’s precisely how a doctor once described my own situation to me. I try to remember those words whenever I reach my breaking point, but it’s not easy to hold on to mere words when your support system is a mess, or nonexistent.

I spend 97% of my time alone, so how could I not think about suicide? Between the stress and the isolation, it’s hard not to. There are days when I’m taking a long walk, just to clear my head, and there’s this little voice hoping I get hit by a truck or a bus, or a car not paying attention. Unfortunately with my luck, I’d be in a body cast and no one would ever think anything except that the driver was an idiot that didn’t see me. No one would ever think I had anything to do with it, and for the most part, I likely wouldn’t be thinking about it either because I have “city brain” and I’m very careful when I’m walking, but there have definitely been moments where I’ve nearly been hit because a driver wasn’t paying attention and each time, a large part of me was sad they stopped or that I was paying full attention. It’s sad to admit, but it’s also honest, and human. I despise my life and almost everything in it. I find it pointless to pretend that it’s okay. I am 1000% NOT okay. I cannot remember a time when I was okay. Passable? Yes, but okay? No.

As I constantly have to explain to other people, my ties in life are different from theirs. My Grandparents are gone. My parents are gone. I have a handful of cousins I am close to, and I just recently lost my Great-Aunt, who was the last tie I had to my father’s side of the family in this country, aside from my cousins who I am currently trying to avoid because they stress me out. I haven’t heard from my brother in months and constantly live in fear that I will get a phone call from a hospital or the country coroner’s office. I come out of my skin every single time my phone rings and I don’t know who the caller is. Every single day of my life, I question my existence. Between the migraines, the physical pain, and the emotional pain, there doesn’t seem to be much of a point in sticking around. Why would any sane person allow themselves to go through this kind of torture day in and day out?!

I used to stop myself from acting on these thoughts because I was afraid my brother would be the one who found me, and I couldn’t do that to him. His best friend committed suicide in 2005 and it left him devastated. I didn’t want him to find his sister dead; I was certain it would break him. Especially after we lost our parents. My brother isn’t me; he’s not strong. One of my best friends lost her brother to suicide and she has told me that no matter what I am going through, it’s a permanent solution to problems that are “temporary”. However, you can’t say that to someone who has spent the majority of their life in agony and who rarely, if ever, knows happiness. Nothing I’m going through is temporary. It is all quite permanent and very real. I don’t think my other friends are aware how much I’m hurting. I’ve only recently realized how one-sided our conversations are. My relationships and friendships are solid, but I will always be the black sheep. I’m needed when I’m needed, but where do I go when I’m in need? To a doctor and/or a licensed therapist, and right now, I’m not okay to sit with a therapist weekly, or even bi-weekly. I am gutted and I don’t have the emotional capacity to sit and discuss anything when I feel like an empty shell. I don’t care to stare at someone for 45-50 minutes. I don’t like wasting someone else’s time, nor my own. My last therapist dropped me during one of the worst times in my life. I genuinely trusted her. I’m not ready to be hurt like that again, nor will I allow it. She was the only therapist I’d ever liked, and her not so much as returning a call and referring me to someone else was incredibly unprofessional and rude. It’s something I’ll never forget or forgive. There is always a professional way to do something. It’s one of the first things I learned in business and I was eight years old at the time!

So my appointment went well, and I’m glad for that. I genuinely DO like this doctor (I wasn’t kidding about following him to China. That’s one of the highest compliments I can pay him. I’m certain he knows it was genuine.) and he’ll be getting one hell of an online review when I get a moment to collect my thoughts. Not because I have to, but because he deserves it. I’ve never written a review for a doctor before (I’ve recommended my former neurologist to people in need, but this is different.), but I want him to have a great one moving forward on every website I can slap one on. I don’t actually know anyone who could write something better, and that isn’t ego talking, it’s mere fact. For obvious reasons, I have protected his name this entire time. As I’ve said before, “privacy is not a setting”. I adhere to laws and boundaries, even if some of them are personally defined.

Even when he stops being my physician, I’m still going to feel protective of him; I discovered this accidentally. A family member made some very derogatory remarks to me about him while I was in the process of writing this and I’d never felt more defensive and protective of a doctor in my entire life. You would have thought she’d taken a shot at my brother! My reaction was to pause before thinking “Did she actually just say that to me and think I’d accept it?” However, she had, and my exact words were “I’m a very good judge of character and unlike you, I trust my judgment and intuition. Number two, this is someone you have never met, spoken to, or spent five minutes in a room with.” I later informed her that it was disrespectful and inappropriate for her to attack a stranger based on her personal experience of working in a hospital. You can’t just go around assuming that every doctor is egotistical and arrogant. Far more was said than that, and I refuse to give it credence by repeating it. However, nothing I said was negative or led her into this series of hateful, rude, callous, inappropriate remarks. She did end up apologizing, and I’ll chalk it up to her usual idiocy, but much like attacking my work, which I’d never allow, you do NOT attack this doctor. I may have been mad at him for an isolated incident, but I did not disclose anything more than facts. This is someone I respect. That means he’s done something to earn it.

When you find a good doctor, however brief the encounter may be, it’s important to let them know which qualities they possess that they need to hold on to in order to survive as medical professionals. It’s a sad jungle out there. Finding someone amazing who cares and genuinely wants to help people, and isn’t egotistical, is very similar to finding a unicorn. Apparently, they DO exist in the medical community if you search hard enough. 😉 There’s an immense difference between having a healthy ego and having a Donald Trump complex.

In one of the most screwed up healthcare systems in the world, any American citizen that becomes a medical doctor has just completed an additional four years of medical school and, depending on their chosen field, there is a 3-7 year residency or fellowship process after graduation. It puts the average physician over $175,000 in debt, if not more. Yes, they are choosing to become doctors, and no, most of them don’t go around earning our respect as patients because insurance companies dictate far more than they should be allowed to, but there are good doctors out there. Bedside manner isn’t a given, it is often learned, and so much more is learned by taking time for your patients. In their efforts to help people, they can become doctors that focus solely on research or they can practice medicine based on their field choice in the state(s) in which they are licensed. I found the needle in the haystack, and I am glad our paths crossed. I think I’m a better person for it.

Broken, pretty mess and all.

You’re my readers and you all know I’m not afraid to be exactly as advertised; a “Speaker of Powerful Words”. I want what I say to make an impact, regardless of the subject matter. It’s why I choose to write strong things, like “The Descent Into Hell Is Easy”. That is one of my favorite pieces from earlier this year, but there are always stronger pieces in the pipeline. Thankfully, my mind works in mysterious ways.

Do sleduyushchego raza moya lyubov’ (Until next time, my loves),

Li

Aut viam inveniam aut faciam-“I shall either find a way or make one.”

P.S. Yes, he knows I’m a writer and that I wrote the angry piece. I was honest with him. He’s getting a copy of it, and this, at my last appointment, along with my heartfelt thanks.

copyright © 2017 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

It’s Not What You Think

I woke up to this news utterly devastated. I am still in shock. This is so incredibly well-written and honest. I talk about depression openly and honestly, and I hope people continue to #EndTheStigma by sharing their stories because we’ve lost too many amazing people to suicide as a result of depression.

The First Ten Words by Rich Larson

Chris Cornell, 1964-2017

Chris Cornell died early Thursday morning. His band Soundgarden played a show on Wednesday night at the Fox Theater in Detroit. Two hours after the show ended, he was gone.

For two days, I’ve been working on a piece to pay tribute to him, and it’s been a struggle. Usually when I have a problem like this it’s because I’m staring at a blank screen trying to figure out what I want to say. That’s not the problem this time. The problem is I have way too much to say.

I’m not going to sit here and claim to have been a huge fan of Soundgarden. I didn’t dislike them, I just had to take them in small doses. I was a fan of Cornell. I love “Seasons,” the solo song he had on Cameron Crowe’s movie, Singles. It’s a droning acoustic song about isolation and the…

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