Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Hypertension 39: Western V. Chinese Medical Experiences #2...or, Western Medical Doctor--What Does WMD Remind You Of?

Yesterday, I saw my Western Medical Doctor. Today, my Chinese Medical Doctor. I am inspired to write a second posting about the different experiences.

Yesterday's appointment with my Western Medical Doctor (WMD, which is suspiciously like WMD as in Weapons of Mass Destruction) was originally scheduled for two weeks from now--basically, to meet the doctor so he could order a blood test to see if Lipitor was rotting my liver. However, I pushed it up because I was getting leg aches, and my wife the nurse was concerned that research involving statins (which, I gather, is what Lipitor is one of) indicated statins can, as a rare side effect, create permanent muscle damage.

I prepared for the meeting by printing out all the blood pressure measurements I'd taken since my return to work (which my WMD had asked me to do), and a short diary of my return to work experiences, including a list of apparently negative side effects from the prescription medications I was taking (he had also asked me to prepare the diary). The list of blood pressure measurements probably ran ten pages, as I took them three times a day, and three times each time (you're not supposed to do one measurement at a time, but take several--usually the readings go down a bit, the longer you sit quietly seeing if you're gonna have a heart attack). The diary was only one page. Half of it were the side effects.

The appointment was for 3:15, so I left work and arrived at around 3:00, hoping I might get in early. I checked in at the front desk and was told to have a seat. There were plenty of people there--the WMD shares the offices with three other physicians. The walls were a pale colour, with forgetable prints on them. I looked at the magazines--all fashion magazines about a year old, with a couple of older sports magazines, and some free magazines from drug companies--and fell asleep. Well, I can do that, I have sleep apnea. My snoring woke me up. Several times.

I was in the waiting room for about fifty minutes, so when I was finally called in it was about half an hour after the scheduled appointment. For ten minutes, I then waited in the "patient room", feeling patient, and looking at the posters on the walls: one was for irritable bowel syndrome, and had drawings of colons, while the other was about panic attacks, and showed a scared woman running out of an elevator. I started to fall asleep again.

The WMD came in. I think he remembered who I was, but since sometimes he does not, I reminded him that I had Hypertension and had just returned to work. He looked at my chart, bringing himself up to date, in about thirty seconds.

I told him why I'd pushed up the meeting--concerns about the statins and other side effects--and handed him the blood pressure readings and diary which he had wanted me to do. He read the diary, then looked at the first three pages of the readings (which would have taken him back a week or so, but certainly not the almost four weeks I'd been back at work). He commented that my blood pressure was stable, which it generally was.

I told him my return to work seemed to be going well, although I felt lightheaded much of the time. I mentioned about pushing up the meeting and described the ache. One thing I could not figure out was why my legs ached in particular when I did some brisk walking during lunch in Winnipeg's skywalks, while they did not ache when I walked at the same brisk pace on a treadmill at the gym.

He responded well to the leg ache, said that statins have muscle ache as a known side effect, and that a blood test would tell us if that was the problem. Secondly, he said, if the test in particular turned up negative, the other method was to simply stop taking Lipitor and see if the aches went away. He did not say anything about why I should have leg aches walking in the mall but not in the gym. I got the impression he was not always listgening. He said the blood tests could take a couple of weeks to get back to him, and started to leave.

I asked him about the second method about knowing whether the aches camp from Lipitor. He seemed to have forgotten about that, because he said something like "Oh yes" and sat down again. He told me to stop taking Lipitor for six weeks.

Then he got up and the WMD then left. We'd been together perhaps ten minutes.

Apart from my raising the ache issue and his responding to it, I did not have the time to ask about the other side effects--lightheadedness, blurry vision, blood when I blew my nose, bleeding gums when I brushed my teeth, and so on. Why should I bore you with the list? He did not want to hear about it, why should you? Maybe the WMD was rushing off to look for WMDs.

I wanted to ask him how to understand if the diastolic measurements were too high, but he was already gone, off to see patient X-23, in room six ("I'm not a prisoner, I'm a free man!")

Back at work, I kinda decided I'd had enough of waiting to get information from my personal WMD.

I phoned the specialist's office who had kept me off work, recommended I return to less stressful work, and had changed some of my meds. My plan was to book another appointment with him, to get my questions answered. He worked in a hospital clinic. Unfortunately, his secretary told me that normally he sees patients only once, and then lets the family physician take over. I would have to call the WMD and ask him to write a second referral letter, to see the specialist again.

As I did not want to call the WMD again, and probably have to make another appointment with him just to get the referral letter written, I phoned a doctor I knew who was an Occupational Health specialist. He's a very friendly fellow. He said the biggest problem doctors have with hypertension patients is getting "compliance" with the medications, because of the side effects. He said he'd see if he could find another physician to recommend to me.

Then I went to the CMD--the Chinese Medical Doctor. It was not for a treatment, actually. I had been helping her on a volunteer basis with her parents' humanitarian immigration application so they could become landed immigrants here. My certification as a Commissioner for Oaths had arrived, so I could certify, as part of the application, that her marriage and citizenship documents, among others, were authentic.

I went to the CMD after work. The assistant behind the counter smiled and asked how I was. The CMD came out and we had a hug. She asked me how I was feeling. Given I was stuck with prescription meds for the time being, she suggested she could still continue to stick needles in me. She asked how my daughter was, and offered some herbs. On the wall were new drawings by her children. Her parents were there, and thanked me for helping with the application. Her husband also showed up. We all chatted and had a rather nice time.

It looked as if we could be done, but I suggested I double check online the document lists necessary, to ensure that everything was done, and that I would return Friday. Actually, I think I just did that because it was so nice there I wanted to come back again.

The WMD I don't want to see again.

1 comment:

Cicily Janus said...

Point well made my friend, point well made.... Stress is the enemy, actually not only the enemy, the devil...

I shall reach a little further and go to a place that I have yet to experience to relieve the places that are inhibiting me.

You are once again wiser than yesterday and will prove to be wiser than today tomorrow. Our friendship is that of divine intervention.