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That time I told the doctor she was wrong

I went to the doctor recently for some side pain.

Now before you up and call me a total pansy, know that it takes a lot for me to go to the doctor. Like I have to be oozing blood, running a super high fever, or pregnant. But then miraculously as soon as I set foot in the office, the bleeding stops, my fever is nowhere to be found, and of course the pregnancy is all in my head.

But this side pain had been going on for a while, and something in the back of my mind was saying it was my kidney, or I was dying. It seemed to flare up when I had drank too much coffee and not enough water (as in EVERY DAY), and it was especially bad on a Sunday after we had enjoyed a few beers while watching the Longhorn game at a friend’s house the night before. I probably did more beer drinking than watching the game, because football’s not really my thing, alma mater or not.

I feared a kidney stone, and nothing screams “You’re an unhealthy mess!” to me like a kidney stone. Only I’m not an unhealthy mess, I’m actually quite a healthy mess, thank you very much, except for the weekly pizza and the mini keg in my fridge, but we won’t mention those (again).

So I finally bit the bullet and made an appointment when the pain and complaining and the crimping of the side to ease the pain and complaining became kind of a daily thing. I was convinced it was one for the record books, and nurses would faint at its girth as they went in to blast it to a million tiny pieces, which would still end up being about the size of golf balls.

Once in the office and minus one urine sample, the doctor — I go to one of those awful chain type clinics, and I don’t even know her name — poked at my side, asked me some questions, and bent me this way and that in the name of diagnosing my ginormous problem. For maybe a whole 60 seconds.

“Okay, yeah…it’s muscle pain.”

Okay, yeah, what???

“It’s muscular. I’ll prescribe you an anti-inflammatory for the pain.” She jotted words down on her little pad while I stared at her like she was insane.

“You…it’s….are you sure?” I gave her my best “I don’t want to tell you you’re wrong, but I think you’re wrong” look. I mean, I watch a lot of Grey’s Anatomy, and there’s always something freaky going on in that hospital. And when they misdiagnose? People die.  “It just really feels like it’s my kidney, and it seems to flare up with certain, um, causes, and…” She gave me a blank stare. Dammit where is Patrick Dempsey and his empathetic hair when I need him?

You see, this is something I kinda do. I have a pain, or an itch, or a pimple, and I convince myself that I have some rare form of side cancer, skin ailment, or strange, dermatological anomaly. I try to convince myself that “I’m just listening to my body,” but what I’m starting to realize is that my body like to lie to me. Rather, it likes to see how easy it is to get me to believe that I’m about to meet my own demise by way of excruciating side cramps, then it points and laughs at me as I hastily google “chances of death by rogue kidney.” You know, kinda like that time that I thought my daughter’s vagina was about to spontaneously combust, only to find out that she really just had to pee.

Not that I wanted there to be anything wrong with my kidney. That shit gets expensive. Last year Christian went in for what he assumed was a kidney stone (unhealthy mess!), and it turned out that his internal plumbing was defective since birth, causing his kidney to not filter correctly. Had they not caught it, it would have ballooned up and exploded or something. I’m not really keen on the details. But there was an ER, a surgery, a high deductible insurance plan, and MONEY MONEY MONEY which can’t replace his health, but OMG BILLS.

So on the flip side, it’s also kinda one of my fears that something is dormant and terribly wrong with me, and the doctor will just overlook it because she only spent 60 seconds poking me and asking vague questions and my side pain could be a rare form of side cancer that gets better with crimping and bending over and such, or my kidney could be about to explode because my plumbing is wrong too, and how much would that suck and be awesome at the same time, because that would like totally make Christian and I soul mates!

I sensed that these generic anti-inflammatories might be a tad less expensive and less pain in the ass than hospitals and surgeries, but I still felt like she was kinda blowing me off and was all “NEXT PATIENT PLEASE DON’T EVEN CHANGE OUT THE SANITARY PAPER THINGY GO GO GO!” But she gave me a nod.

“Well, if you want to get it checked out, we can send you for an ultrasound.” Which was clearly her code for “Fine, don’t listen to what I think, I’m just the doctor, but let’s go take this expensive test and waste valuable time and resources that are for people who actually have weird side/kidney issues that they didn’t make up.”

And I was all “Thank you!”

Then she couldn’t decide if she wanted to send me for a renal ultrasound or an abdominal one, and she kinda looked at me expectantly like I would know the answer, but I didn’t go to medical school, and she was all “Oh you didn’t? I couldn’t tell by the way you were diagnosing yourself here in my office.” I made a special note to find a new doctor, stat.

The next morning I headed bright and early to the radiology place, where they too couldn’t figure out if I was going renal or abdominal. We finally made a guess and chose the one that would NOT require me to drink 5 gallons of water in 15 minutes and then sit and wait and not pee for an hour.

And so of course (of course!), I got a call in 2 days saying that my ultrasound showed….wait for it….

NOTHING. ZIP. NADA.

I was clean as a whistle. Healthy as a hog. Kidney stone free as a…person with no kidney stones. Plumbing 100% A-OK.

So when I got home and my side pain started flaring up, I popped an anti-inflammatory pill for my so called quote/unquote “muscular pain.”

Which disappeared in a matter of minutes.

*Blink blink*

So yeah. She was right. I was wrong. Damn you, real doctor with your knowledge and your degree of medicine!

As much as I’m glad that I don’t have some weird kidney/side disease,  I’m still planning on finding a new, non-gigantic practice doctor. I may have trouble looking this one in the eye again.

 

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Leigh Ann Torres
Writer, artist, wife, cook, maid, bookkeeper, mom to twins plus one...all around genie in a bottle, except you only get one wish, and it has to be reasonable.
20 Comments
  1. It is SUPER hard to speak up for myself at the doctor too. Sending you a virtual high five! Glad you’re okay ;)

  2. I think you did the right thing!
    I always follow my instinct when I’m sick and usually I’m right.
    With my gal bladder it was over 6 months for them to believe me that I was sick and in pain and when they finally did take it out it was diseased!!
    Follow your instincts my friend, you know your body the best.
    *this coming from a Canadian who has universal health care :)

  3. Happy everything turned out ok. And despite (or because of?) the fact I worked at an internal medicine clinic as a MA for 5 years I always have doubts about a doctors diagnosis, and often disagree/go with my gut. :) I’m pretty sure there’s a note in my chart about what Kind of patient I am.

  4. well, i’m totally glad you’re healthy. that’s always good news. but you’re right to question. i was in tremendous abdominal pain of which the ER said, “eh, maybe a cyst burst. happens.” to which my main OB says, “sometimes people hurt” (with a pat on the leg). Then a laparoscopic surgery exposed stage 4 endometriosis and my colon was stuck to my uterus. But, mind you, sometimes people just hurt…..

  5. Im glad you dont have a kidney stone but I do appreciate feeling disconcerted when it seems like the doctor is not giving you the time you need.
    :-)
    Traci

  6. You were right to question a doctor, it IS your body. And even doctors don’t know everything, that is why they run the test. Better to be adamant and find out what it isn’t than worry and it gets worse. Cute story. Glad you are ok.

  7. I think this was hilarious! I have gotten in trouble from my doctor for misdiagnosing myself as well ! I have a great doctor now ! I will be subscribing to your blog now great tile

  8. The doctor-patient dynamic is so bizarre, it’s amazing we ever understand each other. Try Dr. Pugh with Jefferson Street Family Practice. Low key, listens and doesn’t make you feel like a dork.

  9. Totally glad that you don’t have a kidney stone but I HATE when I challenge someone and they end up being right.

  10. you know what my friend…you did the right thing and BETTER TO KNOW, than to wonder…wondering can kill you (STRESS, EATING CHOCOLATE, NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO GREY”S just as quickly as kidney stones!)

    I’m just so glad you are ok…and that you were wrong. YOU ROCK, lady. (and you know it!)
    xox

  11. You’re totally right to question your doctor. I had a feeling mine was just brushing things off. I kept having stomach pains so she sent me for an ultrasound- nothing came back. So I ended up suggesting it might be Celiac disease as I had my aunt has it- and it’s genetic. Turns out, two years later it is, I only need to get wheat flour on my hands and it’s a big, red itchy mess or eat a bread crumb and I’m on the toilet, it’s classy stuff. Always go with your gut.

    • Oh no! My husband’s aunt is gluten intolerant, his mom stopped eating it, and I also know a few former preemies who ended up having celiac. That’s no joke. My problem is that my gut likes to lie to me sometimes. It probably doesn’t help that my bed is super uncomfortable and I lay on that side 90% of the time. ;)

  12. I can really relate to this! I always feel blown off by the doctor and then look like a fool because I am sure I am on my death bed…sigh….

  13. I’m so glad it was nothing but also glad that you pursued it.

  14. I’m glad you’re okay and it was just muscle pain.
    But I know what you mean about doctors being possibly wrong, because hey, they may have the medical degree but we’ve had umpteen years of knowing our bodies!
    Like last December when I had really bad pain the lower stomach area, the doctor down the road said it was food poisoning. I was like, dude, I’m an expert in food poisoning (unfortunately) and I don’t think so. But eh, he gave me meds and sent me on my way.
    I woke up the next morning in even more pain. Long story short: went to my regular GP, she said, go to the ER now, it’s probably appendicitis. Which I’d totally self-diagnosed using WebMD.
    I had surgery that afternoon.
    Thank goodness for medical insurance!

    • See? I totally feel like doctors blow us off sometimes. But then again, they probably get their fair share of “I’m dying!” patients who reallt just have allergies.