After a grueling, multi-year effort to meet our goal of moving halfway across the country to be closer to our daughter, I hoped to put all of that stress behind me. At first, this seemed to be the case…you wouldn’t believe the sense of relief I felt over finally being in our new home! But unfortunately my “reckoning” was on its way. It would come in the form of getting sick and then having to spend MANY months navigating a complex medical establishment in order to restore my health.
On the morning of September 26, 2016, I went to the gym and felt fine. I was there for 2 ½ hours and did my usual routine. The next day, I was tired and not feeling well at all. I went to see my doctor, and he ordered blood tests. As the day went on, I got worse and then began getting pains in my stomach. My wife and daughter took me to the hospital that evening.
At the hospital, I was hooked up to an I.V. and had a CAT scan done. The results were inconclusive. The doctor recommended an MRI, with an emphasis on the adrenal glands. He also found an elevation in my kidney function. He thought my blood pressure medication might be the culprit, even though I’d been taking it for five years with no problems. He switched me to a different medication.
About a month later, I contacted my doctor and told him I still wasn’t feeling well. I was tired all the time, my concentration was off, and my blood pressure was high. The doctor ordered more blood work and referred me to a urologist. At this point, I was getting a bit anxious. I had no idea what was wrong, and of course, my imagination was happy to conjure up plenty of worst case scenarios!
When I met the urologist, I didn’t have a good feeling about him. He seemed impersonal and in a hurry. As a highly sensitive person, “bedside manner” is very important to me. After barely looking at me or my previous tests results, he recommended further tests. He suggested testosterone hormone treatments, twice a week for two months, to see what happens. I asked about side effects, and he assured me they would be minimal.
The hormone therapy sounded reasonable, so I had a treatment at the appointment. As I was leaving, I asked the doctor how often I’d need to get the treatments, after the two months were up. “Every two weeks,” he said casually, “for the rest of your life.” He then trotted down the hallway to see his next patient. What? Wouldn’t you think that this was important information to give me? I never saw this doctor again. My HSP instincts had been right!
Since my blood pressure was still high, I asked my regular doctor about trying a different type of blood pressure medication. By now, I was starting to lose faith in him because I wasn’t getting any better, and I also questioned his judgement in referring me to that urologist. After discussing some options, he gave me another referral, this time to a hypertension specialist. I hoped things would go better with this referral.
Unfortunately, my hopes were quickly dashed when I was told I couldn’t get an appointment for six weeks! High blood pressure is a serious problem, and I wasn’t comfortable waiting so long to be seen. I called my doctor to see if he could make the case for an earlier appointment, but he said he couldn’t do anything. I felt like I was on my own!
Sadly, there would be MANY more hurdles to jump through in resolving my medical concerns, which I’ll discuss more in next week’s post. Navigating through a complex medical establishment is challenging, especially for a highly sensitive person. It’s frustrating to be bounced around from one doctor to another, waiting weeks in between, and then still not get any answers.
While I don’t know exactly what triggered my medical problems, I strongly suspect it was a reaction to prolonged stress. The death of my mother, settling her estate, retiring from my business, selling our home of 33 years, and moving 950 miles away were a lot to deal with in short period of time!
Instead of processing these major life changes and managing my stress, I relentlessly pushed to meet my goals. I didn’t recharge myself enough. I didn’t get the rest that I desperately needed. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t regret the changes my wife and I made, but it didn’t have to be done at breakneck speed!
The key takeaway for me is to SLOW DOWN and to pay more attention to the distress signals coming from my mind and body. As for the healthcare system, it is definitely not HSP friendly, and I think the best way to deal with it is to avoid getting sick in the first place!
What about you? Have you ever run yourself ragged and ended up getting sick? How did you handle it? What frustrations do you have, as a highly sensitive person, in dealing with the healthcare system? I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.
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The next post, (19) Running Myself Ragged and Dealing with the Medical Establishment (Part 2), is about a serious health scare I had and some tips for dealing with a frustrating healthcare system.