Don’t Get Too Used to It

“Don’t get too used to it. We doctors don’t want you to get the wrong idea. I mean you might expect us all to be ready on time and I’ll get in trouble”, my spitfire Cardiologist quipped as he walked into the Exam Room right on my heels.

I had just mentioned to him that I’ve never had a doctor so ready to see me in the Exam Room. Just before, the Medical Assistant and I noticed that my doctor was RIGHT behind us. I mean, RIGHT behind us as he followed us into the room. We both said hi to him and he said, “Hi. Don’t worry about me. I’ll do my best not to run you over. I suppose I could race you into the Exam Room if you like.” We chuckled and that’s when I noticed and commented on his LACK of tardiness. “Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever had a doctor almost beat me into the room and be ready to get going”.

After the small talk, he stayed in the room and the Medical Assistant hadn’t even had time to check my vitals, my blood pressure and pulse rate and he was already asking me questions. Well that was another first. She was checking my blood pressure while he was making a call on his phone to some automated system we all got to hear on speaker phone and he continued to multi-task while my arm was squeezed in the blood pressure cuff and he started asking me questions. You know, the old me (the Nahleen who hadn’t gone to that many appointments years ago) would not have been able to deal with that and I have a feeling my blood pressure would’ve skyrocketed through the roof but you know what? I just went with it and somehow my blood pressure was a better reading than it’s been in quite awhile. However, my pulse rate was high but wouldn’t your’s be with all of that hectic silliness?

So with the slightly high pulse rate the Cardiologist asked the Medical Assistant to do an EKG and she sort of motioned for him to leave the room and he actually did and had no problem with it! The Medical Assistant talked to me during the whole procedure about my name and where it came from and how exotic it sounded and that I must be so “exotic”. Hmm. Well that was a new one. Don’t think I’ve ever been thought of as exotic and I joked about that and told her her it must be the purple hair talking because being that I’m caucasian and she wasn’t (her name was Bing–found out later as I was leaving and she said, “You know, like Bing Crosby?”–and I thought that was so cute) and I’m from New Hampshire I didn’t feel too exotic. I did tell her I’d just go with it. Sure, I’m exotic. Okay. Thanks. With all of this chatting I think it helped me to calm down quite a bit. I told her I have a long history of “white coat syndrome” and although I’m much better about those darn white coats (she was wearing one too) they still get to me and she laughed and said, “Well my doctors have a habit of doing that to my patients. It happens all the time.” She was really sweet.

After the very painless EKG, I was ready (I ALWAYS have to be ready. Working on that but I can’t help it.) to have to have more tests done and the doctor came in, listened to my heart, listened to my lungs and asked me what else he could do for me. (By the way, that call that was on automated hold he told me was a call to make sure he was still on for his scheduled surgery–on someone else’s heart–this guy rewires hearts for goodness sakes–and he apologized profusely for making this call while in the appointment but he needed to make sure to be on “these” people to keep them “on time” for 1:30pm. This guy tries really hard to be on time. By the end of the call he was still scheduled for his “case” as he called it and all was running smoothly.) I told him that my Neurologist (he knows him well) was concerned because I had been taking the newer medication for my multiple sclerosis (and the only medication for MS in pill form–incredibly monumental), Gilenya, and that there had been some deaths while other patients had been taking it and that my Neurologist was insistent that I see him (this Cardiologist) and only him to follow-up and make sure I’m okay to continue taking it. On a side note, I sure as heck was hoping I was okay because my only other option was to take an injectable every day and I can’t stand needles (even after 8 years of injecting every other day with another MS medication–I’m sure I’ll get into the medication conversation about MS in a later Blog. I could go on and on about it actually.) and I was trying to avoid that. However, I didn’t like that people were dying while taking Gilenya either. Just a little scary. Then again, my MS health has greatly improved while on it for over a year and I really hated the idea of going off a medication and risking more of a progression or worsening of symptoms with multiple sclerosis. That idea sucked.

The Cardiologist quickly pointed out that he’s known Neurologists to be pretty neurotic (jokester) and that the problem with this medication is that it’s still pretty new in the medication world and because of that there is no real data to pull from when the patient dies while on the medication and unfortunately these people can’t tell us anything and it’s not like they’ve been using a heart monitor 24 hours a day every day to see what’s been going on. Gilenya can cause slow heart rate and that is already known. There’s a big medical review going on to find out if the poor people died from the medication, it’s a coincidence, or if it’s a combination of a bunch of different things. So while the review is happening with the medication, my doctor is making sure all of his patients on Gilenya have their heart health reviewed. Makes sense to me. It’s nice to know if my heart is healthy or not. It’s nice to have a heart.

Anyway, I am cleared by the Cardiologist to keep taking Gilenya and all is good to go! My Neurologist really trusts this doctor so I believe that there are no more obstacles in the way and I’ll be able to move on with my life. I will find out more about that in May when I have an appointment with him. For today, I’m all good! And this guy is so cool and funny that I felt comfortable enough to exclaim, “Woo hoo! No other tests?! I’m clear?” to which he replied that I was okay to go and cleared and he would let my Neurologist know he was not worried about me. You mean I don’t have to do an echocardiogram or wear a heart monitor for 24 hours? No way. I had seen him a year ago to have all of these tests done as a baseline to make sure I could even start the Gilenya MS medication in the first place. And yes, I had to do the extra tests. It was okay. It was nice to know how my heart was doing. I was just so tired of it all (especially at the time) and it felt like such a hassle.

Another neat thing about this doctor is that he made it so easy and distracted me so much in the beginning that I was able to forget how uncomfortable I was in the waiting room. This waiting room was supposed to be designed like a living room decorated with darker walls and plush sofas and chairs with refreshments to drink if we wanted. Somebody really did put a lot of thought into it. I thank them. However, the Receptionist’s Desk was right there just outside the carpet of where the “living room” was supposed to start and I believe she was supposed to be centrally located and she was so loud and so forced into her friendliness and clearly so stressed that it was hard not to have that stick in my butt that she seemed to have. I did my best to stay patient with her and have some compassion because it is clearly a very high stress job but I’ll admit it was hard at times. Plus she was working on a new digital system and everything had to be re-entered so that must not have been fun either. And you know what was kinda neat was that she thanked me quietly for being nice. And then I hate to say it but I’m in my mid-30s and I go to the doctor with a bunch of elderly people. Don’t get me wrong. I like all ages of people but sometimes I just want to feel like I’m not the only mid-30s person with health issues. It can get kinda hard and depressing.

Otherwise, it was a pretty darn good doctor appointment and a pretty darn good afternoon. I took a nice walk afterwards in the beautiful weather and ate a good lunch. Now I’m home writing this. Things feel positive.

I just can’t help but think about what the Cardiologist said and what the title of my Blog is, “Don’t get too used to it.”. I want to. I want to get used to things going well. I have been trudging and struggling on this path of recovery in this more recent downswing (slowly inching towards better) for almost two years and I’d like it to keep getting better. I have hope.

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