Friday, January 13, 2006

New (Average) Feet! Part 1

The hospital loves me. I went to another department yesterday for something completely different. Nothing particularly sinister, though. The main reason I am having all these visits recently is, after moving house and getting a full diagnosis last year, that they are ‘aware’ of lots of symptoms I have that may need monitoring, investigating, and ‘little adjustments’ in the bracing, pill popping, hormone ingesting (there, that’s got you thinking…) department.

The most painful of these is what is happening in various internal regions of my person. As well as connective tissue wearing out around my joints, internally, things are also taking a bashing, not helped in the least by an overall tendency to bleed more easily that the average person. This has led, lately, to possibly alarming symptoms that once investigated, turned out to be benign. Again.

Typically, people in the connective tissue disorder ballpark have all sorts of symptoms of, oh, stuff and things, most of them also seen in your more standard issue human body. It may be one of the reasons we fail so spectacularly to get diagnosed – to a doctor, the carpal tunnel system symptoms you are manifesting usually do not mean you are any more ‘special’ (eek!) or unusual than the next person – it’s just that someone without fragile connective tissue might get them after a long spell typing without taking the recommended breaks, whilst you might get them after chopping a few carrots.

This has happened to me.

The trick for people in the helping professions is to recognise something more might be amiss, based on the equation of effort-versus-effect, and this is sometimes difficult to do without wondering if the person before you is not simply a frenzied moron who likes to exaggerate everything.

When you can’t even chop a carrot for your dinner without the fear of not being able to brush your teeth the next morning, or have carrots for dinner two days in a row, you know you’re different – yet the actual symptom isn’t any different from that of an average person. Yet the manifestation of the symptom itself isn’t life threatening, and like everyone else’s, will subside with the proper treatment and rest. Consequently, your attempts to convince the doctors of this small but vital difference in your individual circumstances may sound like some kind of hysterical paranoia they cannot understand.

When you like carrots, but the consequences of your chopping them up for dinner every night could, in the long run, lead to irreversible degenerative changes in your wrist joints, it’s time to be alert, checked up, dosed up, and monitored. Or have a carer chop them, of course, so that your wrists are preserved and you can wipe your arse yourself in old age, but that means diagnosis, and proof, and other such tiresomely bureaucratic things.

It’s a shame that the human race has a general tendency to freeloading – if it didn’t, one might be able to say ‘I have (insert applicable symptom)’ and simply be offered the requisite support without having to spend years chasing other human beings with the sufficient gravitas to prove that the unhappy individual did, indeed, require such support several years before it actually arrives.

So, you see, once you have that magical piece of paper from the specialist, it may suggest to the doctors providing your care that some more serious consequence might be afoot. In short, impending arthritis, a rupture, a collapse of a vital organ, or a piece of body being in the wrong place. Whilst they have no compunctions about telling you you’re a hypochondriac and to bugger off when they assume you are a normal member of the human race, the piece of paper saying you are not makes all the difference.

It is, in fact, refreshing to have moved house in the middle of all this referral business and not to have to go back to the particularly unpleasant ones with an ‘I told you so’ look upon my face. One might think the opportunity to get satisfaction in this way would be something to be wished for, but quite honestly, now it’s had a year to sink in, it would be just too depressing.

Did I ever say I’m not bitter?

This was just going to be a short blog entry about getting new pair of insoles from the orthotic department...

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