Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What Store Sells Patience?

I've been sick now for nearly five months.

It's getting a little old, both for me and for my family and friends. I'm so weary of being asked how I feel, and yet I know it's just people who care about me who are asking and hoping for a little good news.

The hardest part, I think, is not knowing what's wrong with me. We have some ideas -- an autoimmune disease? Parvovirus (Fifth Disease)? fibromyalgia? -- but the answers are difficult to pinpoint.

My daughter was supposed to start preschool this year. Instead, she's in daycare.

My husband doesn't complain (usually!), but I know he has to be getting tired of carrying all of the responsibility for household and childcare duties. We did the traditional vows when we married, including in sickness and in health, but this sort of uncertainty wasn't what we expected in a marriage of two people who like to plan and budget.

I'm waiting, again, for blood test results that might give us some answers. But if the results are anything like the dozens of other results I've had, we'll just end up with more questions.

I'm lucky that I have decent health insurance and some very good doctors, especially my internist, Dr. Lina Takano at The Portland Clinic. When I recently recommended her to a friend who was seeking a new doctor, my friend asked me, "Is she brilliant?" Well, I'm not sure about that -- after all, she hasn't yet figured out what's wrong with me. But more important to me than sheer brilliance in a doctor is one who never rushes me out of the examining room, is willing to listen to all my symptoms and issues and theories and really pays attention to me, and is willing to continue to seek the source of my illness without just writing me off as a chronic complainer. I see her so often and we've shared some details of our personal lives that I sometimes have to remind myself that she's my MD and I'm just her patient, not her new best buddy. :) But a doctor who's really willing to spend the time to listen and really hears what you're saying -- that's priceless.

Meanwhile, I continue to try to build up my ever-shrinking store of patience as I wait for an answer and hope for a treatment plan that will give me my life back and restore my family to normalcy.

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