A few quick updates and some opinions (as usual) about our health system.
If you’re on Twitter you may have seen that I spent yesterday morning in hospital, which was definitely not part of the whole “New Year, healthy me” plan. I woke up with massive chest pain, after spending the night with a sore throat and neck, and feeling like I needed to vomit but my esophagus was blocked. Usually, I would have just waited it out, but since last time I tried to do that the ED visit ended up with being admitted because I was actually dying, so I decided maybe I should go get some help.
I got seen immediately, which is always a sign that you don’t look so good. A couple of observations:
1. I found it interesting that the nurse sent my support person (my friend Eddy) out of the room in order to ask if I was safe, or “being beaten or anything like that?” Apparently this is a standard question, but I’ve never been asked it before, and was quite taken aback to hear this through the haze of pain. On reflection, I’m really glad that they ask this question. People should be asked. But in the moment I felt offended on behalf of my friend.
2. As soon as he heard that I’m an anxious person, the doctor told me I was hyperventilating, and that there was clearly nothing serious wrong with me. I tried to tell him that I’m very familiar with how panic attacks feel, and whilst my anxiety may have been exacerbating the situation (surprisingly, I get pretty anxious when I’m in terrible pain and don’t know why), but it certainly wasn’t causing it. He wasn’t really interested in that and asked the nurse to bring me panadol and a paper bag. When he asked if I had any questions, I had to stop myself saying: “Yes. Why are you such an asshole?” That really wouldn’t have helped matters.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m extremely glad that medical professionals now seem to take into account the physical effects of anxiety. However, many seem to now attribute all my symptoms to this. Believe me, I’m very aware that my brain is incredibly powerful, and when it’s set to “RUN RUN AWAY NOW” that’s not exactly helping me. But if I have one more doctor tell me my pain is all in my head, I’m going to kinda lose it.
3. They sent me home after a few hours, with no actual diagnosis, and a prescription for ibuprofen. I was glad that I didn’t have anything serious this time, but also… I’m a bit tired of doctors not actually knowing what’s wrong with me.
Luckily, I woke up today feeling “normal” – well, my usual levels of pain.
I had an appointment with the psychiatrist to discuss my various medications first thing. She’s very good – she never pressures me into anything, she listens very carefully and asks how I feel about things. She’s pleased with my progress.
In fact, she’s so pleased that… I’m going to try coming off the SSRI altogether. The original plan was to come down to a very low dose and then switch to an SRNI. But I’m clearly doing really well without the Sertraline in my system – despite suffering the withdrawals. I’ve already halved the dose. And I’ve wanted for a long time to come off SSRIs completely, so, as nervous as I am, I’m kind of excited. I was quite worried about switching over, because the SRNI can also have really bad side effects, and coming off it can be terrible as well. I’d really hate to lose the tiny bit of stability I seem to have clawed back.
So… bare with me over the next few weeks, folks! I’m working on getting several medications out of my system, and it looks like I may also be tackling the nerve-wracking task of moving house. Physically and emotionally it will be a challenge, especially living with other people for the first time in almost two years. But if it all goes through, I’m going to be sharing with my brother and his girlfriend, and I think some company will be really really good.
Also, today I edited one poem and submitted it to the literary journal Landfall, and wrote one new one.
Things are going well.
[P.S: 16 days!]