I’ve had a lot of fun with medical stuff the last few years. It just keeps going too. Doesn’t help either that I have some legit anxiety that leads to a bit of hypochondria, so there is definitely a mix of physical symptoms mixed with psychosomatic symptom…it’s a fun combination 😂
I’m writing this for two reasons. First, to remind you that you are your own advocate when it comes to health and medical issues. Yes, even those of you in the military. And second, to remind you that you don’t know what people are dealing with on the side. I’ve burdened some pretty serious anxiety and medical scares while acting like nothing was wrong while I was in leadership positions. Rank, age, status, title; none of those protect you or anyone else from life.
So let’s go back to November 2018. I am flying solo with my youngest from Japan to the US immediately after she gets over hand, foot, and mouth disease. On the plane I start to feel weird…throat pain, tightness in my throat, neck that feels swollen, trouble breathing, etc.. I think it’s HFM, but realize once we land that it isn’t. I start to attribute it to an allergic reaction (lotus root? A Japanese mushroom?). A few days later I end up in the ER with weird leg pain…international flight + BC + otherwise healthy led to a fear of blood clots. Nothing found, but the doc said I did the right thing coming in. The neck and leg pain goes on intermittently from then until today (April 2021).
Early December 2018 the neck stuff continues and my tongue swells. Again, I’m thinking allergic reaction. I stop eating/drinking stuff from local cafes for a while.
Late December 2018 the neck stuff gets worse and it causes some serious anxiety. I regularly take selfies with my kids so they’ll have a recent picture if I don’t wake up. I write emails for my husband as an addendum to my will. Still thinking blood clot.
On a work trip to Korea I head back to the ER because my neck discomfort has increased significantly and I can visibly see bumps on my neck in the mirror (lymph nodes?). Get a chest CT. Nothing found. I leave the ER and walk around Seoul.
Weird feeling in my neck and leg continues intermittently. Early 2019 I go to the doc and have blood work done. They can’t do a lot of allergy testing at the hospital in Okinawa, but what they can do comes back negative. No major issues with the blood work.
October 2019 I have my first migraine with aura, except my head doesn’t really hurt but I lose an “L” shaped section of my vision in both eyes with a waterfall effect. I think I am having a stroke. I can’t read. I manage to drive home and freak out a bit. This prompts me to schedule an appointment and go back to pursuing what the hell is wrong.
See the doc (after bugging the corpsman about needing to talk to an actual doctor) and she gives me some referrals. Optometry diagnosis the migraine with aura and says there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with my eyes. Get a CT referal.
Have a contrast CT and am told the results will be with my doc the next day. I call the clinic the next day and get a nurse who obviously missed the training day explaining how to talk to people on the phone. Get told “I can pull the results…ummmm I don’t know how to put this in layman’s terms…your doc is on leave but I’ll call her in…do you feel like you’re going to pass out right now? Your doc should call you shortly.” Alarm triggered…WTF?
Don’t get a phone call but happen to see the doc at a formation that afternoon and I ask her what’s going on. She doesn’t give me any info, but let’s me know she ordered a stat CT for a new look and I can go to the hospital anytime. It’s 3:30pm on a Friday so I drive over. Get the CT and am told someone will reach out on Monday…no one works on weekends apparently.
Monday comes so I call medical. Turns out there is no issue except a poorly trained phone answerer.
Have my second migraine with vision disturbances. Doesn’t make me nearly as scared but comes with total exhaustion for the day and I lose the ability to see a “>” shaped area in the middle of both eyes for a few hours.
Have chest pain in the office one day in early 2020 while having my neck discomfort; go in for an urgent appointment and get seen. Nothing found.
Have an MRI for shoulder issues. Don’t get a call from medical so assume it’s all good. Go to physical therapy and one day ask if he can open the imaging results. “Possible giant cell tumor; suggest new imaging.” Sweet…this again. Get scheduled for another image a few weeks down the road. Anxiety is at max capacity.
Have a CT, lesion is assessed to not be a tumor. Relief!
Early 2021 start having a persistent tremor in my hands, with occasional periods of feeling like my whole body is moving. See neurology with no solid answer. Leg pain continues; finally see vascular surgery with no solid answer.
Schedule a mammogram to take a look at my lumpy boobs. Might as well before I get out of the Marine Corps…plus I am finally done nursing. That is pending. Another thing to look forward to.
Get an X-ray of my right shoulder for some persistent issues. Nothing shows wrong with my shoulder (needs an MRI) but they note a granuloma in my lungs. Awesome. Get a chest x-ray; that shows nothing. Call the doc to ask about the x-ray…she tells me they see nothing in the lungs but that they ordered a mammogram because the issue might be in that area. She actually ordered the mammogram before the chest x-ray, but whatever. I’ve come to expect just being treated as a number.
Before I had kids I would have never advocated for myself with medical issues. I would have looked at the 19 year old corpsman and thought “they’re supposed to be experts, what they say is right.” I no longer think that. In fact, after having kids my overall assessment of doctors is way lower than before. I trust but validate and verify everything…and I am no longer afraid to ask for another opinion or push for testing instead of whimsical diagnoses or push to get a doctor instead of a corpsman.
Of course I have to be careful about WebMD because occasionally I get sucked in and that is a choose-your-own-adventure that always ends in cancer 🤦♀️
Love others. Love self. Love coffee.
#coffeewithasideofcowbell #coffeeandcowbell #medicalstuff #beyourownadvocate #dontwebmd #travel