Friday, September 16, 2016

Four weeks later

This week marked four weeks since my health adventure. I’m well, of course, and today’s doctor’s visit confirmed that. But it also gets at something that’s started to bug me: I’m well, dammit.

I went to the doctor today because the prescriptions I’d been given when I left the hospital were running out, and I needed refills. It was a good opportunity to check in, get checked, and then get my prescriptions. I did all of that.

The short version is that I’m doing really well, and even my blood pressure was good for me, even allowing for the “white coat effect” I normally have. I’ve also now lost 4.6 kgs (10.14 US Pounds) since all this began, despite being unable to start walking (eating less overall, and eating a higher percentage of fruits and vegetables is all I’ve done so far).

The gout attack that began, in earnest, four weeks ago today is finally ending. There’s now merely soreness where once there was real pain, and it's less than what I felt at the beginning of all this. A few more days and I should be ready to start walking again.

In going over all this with the doctor, I mentioned how it was beginning to get me down how often people will treat me like I’m sick or an invalid, urging me to take it easy and not rush things. The doctor said that wasn’t necessary, that now that they’ve dealt with the problem, I’m healthy, and I shouldn’t worry. I don’t worry about my health, exactly, but sometimes I worry about how other people perceive my condition.

When I was a boy, there was a man at my dad’s church who was a well-respected and important part of the church community, assisting with services and all sorts of other things. Then, he had a serious heart attack. When he returned, he was much more gaunt and had grown a full beard at a time when only 20-somethings wore beards. “He’s on blood thinners,” adults explained to me. “He doesn’t want to risk cutting himself while shaving.”

The man seemed frail, a shadow of himself, and people treated him as if he was made of glass. Eventually he had another heart attack that was fatal, and his journey ended. But the image of his final months is etched into my brain.

“I don’t want to be treated like that man,” I told Nigel. “I don’t want people treating me as if I’m likely to break, that one wrong move and I’ll keel over dead.” That won’t happen now, and as long as I look after myself, as I’m already doing, it won’t happen. But I’ve lost count of the number of people who have told me to “take it easy” or to “look after yourself”. I do—in fact, more or less, I always have.

“You’re fine!” the doctor repeated today. And, I am. My main problems over the past four weeks have been the gout attack that sometimes prevented me from walking at all, and even led me to use my crutches in public for the first time ever. Even though this was triggered by the stress around my adventure, it’s not really related to it.

The other problem is simply that after being physically unable to move much for so long, it’ll take time to re-build my stamina, and to do so will mean I need to be able to walk (coming soon to this station…). But that’s part of the problem, not the cure.

My health is good, my adjustment to the prescriptions is going well, and there’s nothing related to the adventure holding me back (apart from gout and a lack of stamina). So, when people treat me as if I’m sick or an invalid, it’s annoying, absolutely, but it’s also a bit depressing because people are seeing me not as I am, but as being the very problem that was fixed, just as all those years ago I saw a man treated as if he was nothing more than the wreck left by his heart attack.

This is the first time in my life I’ve had a wee glimpse into the reality of people with disabilities who deal with far worse attitudes, and every single day. Annoyed as I may get, I’m relieved that eventually people will get over it and forget about my adventure. I hope I remember how it made me feel so I don't do it to others.

In the meantime, I’m well, happy, and full of ideas and plans, now that I know I’ll be here for awhile yet. Are any of us really any different?

The photo up top is of my new pillbox, something I bought the day I got out of hospital to hold all my prescriptions for the week. Apart from the bright colours, what I really liked is that each day is its own “pod”; it was originally set up as Sunday through Saturday, but I moved Sunday to the other end so that if we go away for the weekend I can detached Saturday and Sunday, and not have to bring all my pills with me (the silver loop thing at the left can be attached to any day’s pod, but I don't know why I’d move it).


rogerogreen said...

But the opposite is also true. People with no visible injuries, dismissed when they have chronic pain, or rushed backed to work. (True of people I know...)

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Absolutely! I've experienced a small version of that, too: Most people have no idea how painful gout is, and even when I'm limping, people don't get that I simply cannot do physical things (like, you know, walking…). But, just as my current situation will pass, problems with gout also go away. However, the good thing is that this reality about gout has me far more sensitive to others and their struggles, especially the ones that can't been seen.

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

LOL, that's what I aim for! (and I can do the Vulcan hand thing, too… 😉

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Yeah, I'm by nature a pretty shy person, something that surprises some people because of all stuff I do publicly (this blog, my podcasts, videos, etc.). But even I have limits and boundaries.

One of the ways I choose what I'll talk about is whether it might help others. All my expat stuff does, and I talk about health stuff that someone else may find helpful. For this in particular, one of my Facebook friends (who I met through podcasting, actually) had some great advice, I thought. She said that when people tell me to take it easy, I can tell them, "my doctor tells me I need to do more," which is actually true, of course.

It's an adventure!