Which one are you?

Here’s something I have discovered after working in healthcare for a number of years. There are two types of sick people, the ones who go to the emergency room at the first twinge, itch or cough and the ones who wait until the limb is falling off or someone forces them to a doctor. This doesn’t mean there aren’t people who respond appropriately to pain or injury, I happen think they are the minority.

I fall into the second category. I’m not sure if it has always been this way or if the behavior has developed since A: raising a child with chronic illness and knowing things could always be much worse. Or B: working in healthcare and not wanting to be one of “those” people that show up and waste provider time for senseless things.

For instance, the time I waited two days before going to a doctor when I couldn’t speak right. My son had told me for a couple days it wasn’t normal and to get checked but I didn’t feel bad, no pain, dizziness or anything. After those two days my son suggested that since I was going to work that morning that I stop in and ask the ER doc what he thought. I did. It turns out I had a brain bleed. So now I sport a hole about the size of a grape on the left side of my brain. That earned me a few days in an intensive care neurology unit. All of this stemmed from my own mild bleeding disorder which is a story for another day.

My current story of waiting too long is this. It is now May. Way back in November of last year I woke up one day with  one of those “cricks” in my neck. You know, where you can’t turn your head or put the phone on your shoulder. I have had these many times over the years so as usual I waited for it to go away.

It didn’t. In fact by February there was tingling and sometimes my hand would go numb. Well, I think, pinched nerve. No big deal. My scanty insurance and shortened hours at work are such that physical therapy is out of the question. I decide to stretch and manipulate to see if I can get it to go away.

Nothing. Still tingling and sometimes I wear a sling just to relieve the pressure. Until I get this sound in my head. Like a whooshing. So I google “whooshing in the head” thinking I’ll get starting points to follow. Turns out it’s a thing. Whooshing in the head has a name, Pulse Synchronous Tinnitus. The cause in my case is intracranial hypertension because of now there is a vein being pinched off.

I probably would have waited even longer if one of the lines hadn’t read “can cause stroke”. My brain already has a hole in it. I don’t want to create something else.

I finally call my favorite nurse and explain all this. She says “we should get you in here soon.” Fine. Make the appointment. That afternoon I go do some yard work. The whooshing gets really loud when I’m hot or my heart rate goes up. My son suggests I stop. Okay fine. That night I wake up with one of my above average stellar migraines. Damn it.

Call the nurse back, “you should lay low” she says. Lay low? Be still? “have you ever had an angiogram?” she asks. Yes, yes I did and it sucked. My appointment is for Monday. Six months after the initial issue.

*sigh* I missed several months of activity when my brain bled. I will be most unhappy if this becomes an issue. Will it make me seek help sooner? Probably not. Which category are you? Too soon, too often or never soon enough?


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