Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oh, Back to X-Ray?

I had some medical nightmare a few years back, the details of which I won't bore you with, but it entailed getting far too many x-rays and CAT scans. My husband and I used to joke that based on the number of isotopes I've had injected into my arm, we should just cancel PG&E and put a light bulb in my mouth.

Anyhow, medical nightmare was taken care of (much to my delight!) and because I'm the daughter of a doctor and a nurse, I avoid hospitals if I can. My father used to tell me, "Hospitals kills people!" Anyone who reads this who is the child of a medical person knows that short of slicing open an artery you keep your mouth shut. So I fell in my yard a week and a half ago and banged myself up pretty damn good. Falling down a flight of concrete steps will do that to you. I am a terribly clumsy person, some of which I put down to being far-sighted in one eye and near-sighted in the other; it often feels as if my eyes are fighting each other, with me being always the loser. At least I tell myself that's the reason I"m so clumsy (although my daughter's eyesight is perfect and she seems to have inherited the clumsy gene from me, as well as the, "Oh, white shirt, we most definitely need to spill something on that right away" gene).

That morning I was wearing my computer glasses, which in addition to the weird eyes, really screws up my depth perception, and I put one foot where I thought a step was and... Oh. No. Step. Who knows what happened? I think I tumbled head over heels, but no matter. I banged the hell out of my head, and also hurt my elbow, but I didn't know that at the time. Did I seek medical attention? Nope. I had a conference to go to; I was flying out to Portland that afternoon. Once I ascertained that my eyes were tracking properly, I got a bag of ice, drove to work one-handed so I could keep the ice pack in place on my head, and tried not to think about Natasha Richardson. At the airport I gobbled down a ton of aspirin in the stupid attempt to ward off any impending stroke and spent the entire flight watching a lump on my elbow balloon into something awful and painful.

A week and a half later I am having tea with my mother and I mention the lump, and how the back of my head still really hurts. I show my mother the lump (she was an ER nurse for decades). She demands that I get this seen right away (which, if you know my mother, you obey her). By this point my elbow hurts MORE than when I actually did it, and I'm sort of thinking that I might actually have a slight skill fracture on top of all this.

So I make an appointment for that evening and halfway through my interview with the nurse I realize that she thinks I'm a victim of domestic abuse. There's far more typing that I've ever had in any other office visit (and, believe me, at one point I was practically LIVING at the hospital), and I could tell she didn't believe that I fell down a flight of stairs. Because my injuries were completely consistent of someone warding off blows and the force of the blows would have propelled me backwards, hitting my head. Of course, I compounded this situation by sputtering and insisting that I fell down the stairs, and that I was wearing these stupid computer glasses. I suppose that if I were a victim of domestic violence I would be making similar affirmations and protests.

The doc and resident didn't believe me either until about halfway through the exam and then the tone in the room changed . But I suspect my file is now tagged, and I wonder if my husband's file is also tagged. Of course, I'm happy that these protocols exist because if someone is being abused, then we need to have those lifelines out there, but the whole interaction left me weirded out.

I can't remember being in a professional situation where it was obvious that someone thought I was lying. Oh, people have thought I was incompetent, but that's not the same thing. Also, here I am, with the legacy of coming from a medical family, where it's pounded into you that you must be the model patient, and I couldn't help but fail at being a model patient here. Because they thought I was lying. I was failing on all levels.

My arm will most likely be ugly and lumpy for weeks. But no skull fracture.

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