Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Part of my getting my shit together plan is to come to terms with the past and resolve any conflicts while looking ahead into the future. At least that’s what it says on the list.
Well, I’m not exactly going to do that.
I have one personal conflict in the family with my mother-in-law. It doesn’t bother me in the least. I’m not in need of patching things up just in case one of us were to pass on. It is what it is.
However, I thought I would just write something about the time I was ill, just to get it out. I don’t like to talk about it. I don’t even like to think about and avoid the topic altogether if anyone asks me about it.
I started to think about it again after reading an article about pain. You see, pain was my most dominant symptom.
The article which appeared in Gazeta Wyborcza’s supplement Duży Format. Wyłam z bólu. Oni pytali: co za śmieć tu leży? is the title of the interview of patient Anna Kleszcz by Grzegorz Sroczyński. The title in English would be “I howled in pain and they asked: what’s this piece of trash lying here?”
“Przez dwa lata prowadziłam prywatne śledztwo, na ile powszechne jest to, co mi się przydarzyło. Tortury w polskich szpitalach są niestety zgodne z prawem.” (“For 2 years I have led a private investigation of how common it is what happened to me. Torture in Polish hospitals in unfortunately in accordance with the law.”) Anna Kleszcz is fighting so that what happened to her and still happens to other parents each day will change. I wish her all the best. After reading her story, I felt like I knew her.
Ms. Kleszcz suffered from an abscess on her spinal cord. I cannot imagine the pain she suffered, but I can identify with what I can only call cruelty of the medical personnel which by not easing her pain, in fact, tortured her until she lost consciousness and almost until she lost her sanity. It reminds me of one of my doctor’s commenting to the other, “Do something. You are turning this poor woman into a crazy person.” And crazy with pain, I was.
In my case and in Ms. Kleszcz’s, the hospital did not lack the drugs or the means to administer them. The drugs are neither expensive nor addictive. They simply lacked normal human decency, and it is not an isolated incident. Ms. Kleszcz has the data to back up her claims. Additionally, she is collecting cases of patient suicides. People of all ages some with serious illnesses, others without, all sharing in pain, throwing themselves out of hospital windows or down hospital stairs. This is the determination and desperation of patients to end not their lives, but their pain.
I’m not surprised by Ms. Kleszcz’s shocking treatment. I was once that crazy lady writhing and screaming in pain in many a Polish hospital and no I’m not referring to giving birth. For that you scream in pain for awhile, but soon it all goes away and you get to go home with a baby. I just got, “We don’t know what’s wrong with you, but we suspect it’s all in your head.” Then they write on your release papers that you’re sick in the head but in Latin. You take those papers to the next doctor who starts out prejudiced against you and that’s how you go without diagnosis or treatment from doctor to doctor, hospital to hospital.
In the hospital they ask you to stop screaming, then they tell you sharply, then they start screaming. After that they send in the head shrinker. In my experience when you tell the head shrinker to go and fuck herself, you’re not any closer to getting the pain meds you need, but I did thank her (give her the finger) for suggesting meditation and acupuncture. That was right after I begged her for mercy. She showed me none.
I was tested and examined inside and out over more than a year. Every orifice was probed and if you could camera in there, then they did. They even cut some pieces from some pretty strange places and tested them but all was normal except the pain, the pain which kept growing stronger and encompassing more and more of my body.
In one hospital when I told the doctor that my bladder hurt (the main, but not only source of my pain) she said it was impossible. I insisted. She laughed and asked, “How do you know it’s your bladder?” I pinched her arm hard and twisted. She screamed, “Ow! What do you think you are doing?!” I asked, “Did that hurt?” She shouted, “Yes, it hurt! You pinched my arm!” “How do you know it’s your arm?” I asked. That doctor didn’t help me either.
Countless doctors visits, hospital stays, tests, procedures, research. After 2 years of constant and increasing pain,I could tell you what I didn’t have. I didn’t have stomach ulcers, diverticulitis, stomach cancer, intestinal cancer, or bladder cancer. I did not have ulcers on the inner bladder wall nor bacteria embedded in the wall. There definitely was not a parasite of any kind in my bladder, stomach or intestinal tract, believe me, you don’t want to know how they check it. Additionally, I did not have TB of the kidneys, an ailment I did not even know existed. Although a very stupid ER doctor diagnosed me with kidney stones, my kidneys (as well as my liver) were all clear. Incontinence was not a problem either and bladder capacity seemed to be normal, well, normal for me (no gold medal bladder awards for me even before I was ill).
What did I have? Constant pain, at first starting in my bladder and then taking over practically my whole body along with the never-ending urge to urinate. Add to that intestinal spasms and the slow numbing of my backside and thighs and I was a wreck.
That’s the first time I ever thought that life was too long. I had ‘lived’ 2 years already with this pain and I couldn’t imagine living 2, 3 or 10 more. I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t. I barely ate or drank. I daydreamed about death the way people dream about winning the lottery. But just like the lottery, winnings rarely come right before you spend your last penny, and quick and painless accidental deaths rarely come to those contemplating suicide. I was gonna have to take matters into my own hands.
And I will leave that subject there.
I traveled all over Poland for treatment. I also went to a private hospital in Germany which sent me back to Poland untreated but on the right path to finding a proper diagnosis. I finally found help with doctor #28. Despite my informing him that the medical community was a kurwidół and all doctors were kurwy, he still treated me. (translated to whore’s den and whores – such a proud moment of speaking Polish but I was too sick to enjoy it) He told me what he thought my problem was based on my symptoms and test results. He suggested a treatment method and a time frame. His plan included pain relief. It took almost 5 months before any noticeable change took place, but while taking the pain meds I could sleep a bit. I could eat. After one year, I could smile. After a year and half we starting a weaning plan. After 2 years I was pain-free and thinking about children. I’ve had one relapse since then which was taken care of in a matter of weeks of treatment by the same doctor. It’s a pity he was not doctor #1.
There it is. I’ve got it out.