And I hate it.
There’s one thing I did not anticipate about growing older. It’s being afraid. Two or three years ago I was fearless. Really, I feared nothing. I would make fun of cowards. I would call people who are afraid sissies.
Now I am a sissy.
This morning I have an appointment with the VA Doctor. In all probability I’ll learn nothing. In all probability this ailment that has plagued me for the past year will simply be my burden to bear. In all probability I’ll live another decade or two, at least. In all probability.
It’s also highly likely that my emotional state is the result of changed brought on by codeine in my system. This shoulder pain is, at times, incredibly difficult to live with. Even as I type I can feel the twinge with each flick of the fingers on my left hand. Sometimes it goes away–if I am very still. Always it comes back, worse with my intensity of effort. So, sometimes, I take the pain pills. Damned if I don’t, damned if I do.
Last fall the pain itself was so horrible that I was sure I was dying. Then my VA PA proscribed the codeine. I got past the pain but at what cost? A totally screwed up head. I got pretty freaky. So after the first of this year I went to “only when I’m dying” mode. But still, the crap in my system persists at a level that has me an emotional wreck.
I blew off my last appointment at the VA in June. Why go, the guy just won’t listen. “Muscle problem, maybe,” was the best I could get out of him. He had no clue. Or if he did (if he listened at all, which I doubt) he was not saying. The day after my appointment I sent a letter requesting a real MD rather than a Pretty Awful Physician’s Assistant (PA squared). So, today, I go see that new doc. And, like I said, I’m afraid.
I don’t trust the VA. Twenty-five years ago I had a pretty good doc in Corpus at the clinic there. Never, before or since, have I had any confidence in anyone else at the VA though. The Houston VA butchered my left hand in an attempt to fix carpal tunnel. Now I have limited range of motion in my fingers. The San Antonio VA was worse.
I wound up in the hospital there from bleeding ulcers. I spent a day in a ward where the only way I could get attention of the nurses station was to walk out into the hall dragging two IV’s. Then I was tortured. Literally. They took me down to scope my stomach to try and find the bleeding. Three kids (seemed like it) were doing the test. They were flippant and I was reluctant but they demanded I sign the release or they’d send me home “and not do anything else to help.” I signed. They then proceeded to hold me down and cram the scope down my throat without any anesthetic or drugs or anything. If I could have gotten off the gurney afterwards I would have broken their necks.
A year or two earlier, before I got the good VA doc, I had another doc in the Corpus clinic scope my other end and, I believe, caused permanent damage. My sittin’ down place has never quite been the same. I don’t even remember why he gave me the scope.
I don’t trust the VA.
But it’s not the VA I’m afraid of. It’s not even dying I’m afraid of. It’s very depressing to think about dying before my kids grow up but I have faith in the other side, that God is there (as he is here) and there’s nothing to fear about that Undiscovered Country. What I fear is NOT KNOWING. THAT drives me nuts.
It always has driven me crazy but up until this episode I have always been able to figure something out. This ailment, though, is beyond my ability to figure out. There are a dozen “possible” causes but not one that stands out. If I KNEW my chances, what is coming, whether or not this thing is going to kill me next year or is simply going to be a nuisance for the rest of my life or, maybe, it will go away someday, I don’t think I’d be so freaked. As it is, not knowing is just no darn fun.
And I don’t trust the VA. Did I say that? I’ll push past the knots in my gut and go to the doc today though I feel more like running out into the woods and hiding under a tree. The doc will renew my BP meds and, I believe, do little else. There’s a good chance he’ll want to run tests I won’t go for. No MRI for me, not in one of those old round ones, I am totally claustrophobic and now, in my current wackiness mode, just looking at one of those things would freak me out. Scope? Um, I doubt it. So see, I’m sort’of screwed.
The VA’s answer has always been drugs, drugs, drugs. I take a hand full every morning, BP and cholesterol. I have three or four they’ve given and I didn’t take, a pain pill that was worse than codeine, an anti-depressant (from the shrink) that promised so many terrible side-effects I never took one. Maybe I need one today!
So, anyway, that’s the morning I’m having. I have a pot on the stove for hot water, maybe some hot tea and a bowl of grits for breakfast will settle my jitters. Maybe.
I doubt it.
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