The last four and a half years, I’ve been attempting to manage my anxiety without medication. This week, I’ve had to admit it’s not working. There’s just been so much happen this year (the last two years) that I am not managing my anxiety. I’m spiraling out when I go to bed as my brain creates mini-movies to play on the back of my eyelids of all the terrible things that could happen. My primary care physician retired in 2020 and my care was transferred to a just out of school new doctor who I instantly hated.
I went to see her for the first time when an ear/sinus infection didn’t clear up after the first round of antibiotics. This was not a first for me. I have a history of chronic sinus infections that require multiple rounds of antibiotics because of how bad they are (can get). During that appointment she pointed out I did not have a medical degree. She is not wrong. I do not have a medical degree. What I do have is 40+ years of experience living in this body and until I had rhinoplasty in 2005 all of my sinus infections required more than 10 days of antibiotics to treat and I can tell my sinus passages have shrunk again and rhinoplasty is not an option because of the CRPS. The second time… I got ringworm on my ankle and any parent could have diagnosed it. I knew it was ringworm. My mom knew it was ringworm. It was absolutely ringworm. I went in to see her to get something to treat ringworm. We start the appointment: “Somehow I got ringworm on my ankle” lifts pant leg and pulls down sock and shows her. “Do you have kids?” I do not. “Then it’s unlikely to be ringworm, lets try some antibiotics instead.” IT IS RINGWORM. I need some sort of fungal cream. I didn’t get fungal cream, I got amoxicillin. It didn’t clear up. I called and left a message that it didn’t clear up expecting she would admit it was ringworm and send in a prescription for antifungal cream. Nope. I got another prescription for antibiotics. So I bought some over the counter antifungal cream and cleared it up with that. I get it, she’s fresh out of doctor school and knows everything and is trying to prove herself and she’s pregnant with her first kid and she feels she needs to prove herself, needs to prove she belongs here but…. man I hate her.
So when the nurse practitioner in August told me I had to schedule an appointment for my annual physical with the doctor I groaned and said I didn’t need a physical… I see my pain management doctor every three months and my gynecologist yearly. I see plenty of doctors and a few nurse practitioners, I am good. I spent a month thinking of small things to mention during my physical, such as the mole on my arm that in the last year and a half has become scaly (scaly moles can mean melanoma – this one isn’t, it’s just dry). I’ll mention my bruxism because my grinding is out of control this year. Maybe I’ll mention the tight muscle in my neck that gets perfectly round and feels like a marble under the skin…
Huh… tension migraines, excessive grinding and clenching, sleeping problems, I haven’t written this year like I have in previous years… damn. I don’t think I’m managing my anxiety. But I don’t want to talk to her about it. Despite 19 years on medication for anxiety, she’s going to tell me it isn’t anxiety and piss me off. I didn’t sleep the night before my physical because I spiraled. My blood pressure was high when the nurse took it and I had to admit I hadn’t slept because the nurse mentioned how tired I looked.
The doctor comes in and here goes nothing. Except she listened! She listened and she didn’t contradict or belittle me. And she even agreed “That definitely sounds more like anxiety than depression. So what medications have you used in the past?” I explain about the SSRI intolerance and OH MY GOD! So, I do not sleep on SSRIs, at all. 1 dose will keep me awake and mostly alert for days. I have had psychiatrists tell me it isn’t the SSRIs because they have to build up in the system and a single pill wouldn’t cause insomnia, but a single dose of Tramadol causes the same symptom as a single small dose of Prozac… it is 100% the SSRI and this doctor who I have avoided seeing the last two years agrees with me.
She gave me several medication options, outlining the benefits of each. I decided to try amitriptyline, because it can help with nerve damage pain, migraines, and insomnia. I need assistance with all those things. It does come with risks because I still take opiates for my hip and arm pain and we discuss those and what I need to watch for… and tells me if I have issues with it, to call and she’ll switch me to my second choice and if we have to try forty medications she will help me get my anxiety back under control. Also, given my list of anxiety symptoms, has a doctor ever suggested that PTSD might be part of my anxiety issues. They have, I rejected it because I’ve never been in a war zone or had to kill anyone and am uncomfortable with labelling any part of my anxiety as PTSD.
“I suspect you experienced some sort of trauma as a child. You don’t have to tell me what it was, I just want you to think about it. PTSD has a variety of causes, including the death of a parent as a child. The history of nightmares and sleep anxiety are symptoms of PTSD and even if you don’t label it that… I need to keep in mind that whatever anxiety medications we try, need to treat nightmares, insomnia, and panic attacks.”
Wow. Okay. So, yes I could have PTSD and I’ve known that for more than twenty years and I probably have a few reasons for it, but to have THIS doctor voice it… Well, this appointment went much better than the first two. Maybe she’s settling in and realizes self diagnosis by patients is always going to be a thing? Because when I call to make an appointment and they ask why I need to be seen, if I suspect I know what’s wrong, I tell them that not my symptoms. My prescription for the amitriptyline hasn’t gotten ready yet, but I hope to start it tonight and start feeling more like myself soon.
My computer when I logged on this morning, informed me it was International Sloth Day. Despite how Ice Age tried to spiff up the image of sloths, they are gross. Cute, but gross. I messaged my best friend telling her it was International Sloth Day and she messaged back “Why sloths? Do they have International Whale Day? Possum Day? Skunk Day?” I know there’s a whale day, I don’t know about the others…. I Googled them all and yep they all have days. Opossum Day was October 18th. World Whale Day is the 3rd Sunday in February. Skunk Day is June 14th. Now there are only 365 (sometimes 366) days in a year, not enough for every animal to get it’s own day…. so why do we honor skunks, sloths, and possums with their own day? I went and looked at a calendar of international animal celebration days and marmots have their own day… Marmots! Just so we are all aware marmots are akin to prairie dogs and we believe the were the original source for Bubonic Plague, why are we celebrating them?