A mental trick on dealing with stress I heard from a colleague is a voodoo doll list. She told me once, years ago, that she kept a list in her mind of people of whom she would make voodoo dolls when she got the time (and inclination). That the list changed almost daily. That there are people who are permanently on there, and people who make it for days or hours or weeks or until she forgave them. She told me that just keeping the list made her feel better. And she carries a little plastic box full of pins in her purse, which she rattles when stress is really getting on her nerves. It makes her feel better.
My mental stress trick is significantly more violent. I douse them in gasoline, light a match and set them on fire. If I cannot rip someone to shreds verbally, which is something I do very very well (I’ve actually reduced people to tears, without trying) I picture myself hurting them. I know, this probably isn’t an indication of balanced mental health, but picturing it, or writing about it, releases the stress.
For my orthopedist I have visualized this particular scenario dozens upon dozens of times.
He told me that I was suffering from normal wear and tear on my back and that, based on the fact that I was feeling better, I should be on the mend. No mention of the results of the MRI. No mention on things I should avoid or things I needed to be aware of. He didn’t mention my weight (which was mentioned to me by my PCP and the nurse at the emergency room). He doesn’t think I need physical therapy.
To say I was shocked was a massive understatement.
I asked him direct questions about the results of the MRI, and he dismissed my questions. When I asked about the desiccation he actually laughed at me. When I kept pushing he told me that if I felt strongly that I needed physical therapy that I should go back to my PCP and have him refer me to a physical therapist. Then he gave me a brochure on taking care of my back and offered to renew my prescriptions, if necessary.
I know now that all of this was based on the report of the MRI and not the MRI films themselves, which he hadn’t even received yet when we had our appointment. He hadn’t even reviewed my MRI and he was telling me that a 34-year-old woman has this kind of MRI report and it was due to normal wear and tear? My PCP was freaked out at the report, enough that he dropped his condescending attitude and treated me with a little respect after he read it and I’m supposed to believe that everything is OK?
Have I mentioned that I am still in pain? I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t have to take the Valium and the Vidodin every 6 hours. I might have to resort to a muscle relaxer once a day, on a good day, and have had two complete weeks without Vicodin (using over the counter stuff instead). Of course, last Wednesday I had a really bad day and have been back on the six-hour good-stuff schedule since.
Valium makes my speech slurred. I don’t enjoy that. Under the best of circumstances I don’t think in a straight line, and have trouble communicating my process from A to D (I sort of jump from topic to topic). The combination of Valium and Vicodin makes me incredibly mellow.
I have changed doctor’s groups to Kelsey-Seybold. With them, I don’t need the HMOs approval, or a PCP referral, to see a specialist. The network is huge and has offices near work and near my home. And many people have given them good references.
I’ve picked up my medical records from the bastard orthopedist, including the MRIs and the X-rays, and I’ve consulted with my new primary care physician (had my annual check-up) and I feel very good about him. He’s recommended that I see an orthopedist who is also a spinal specialist. I am now going to make an appointment with him or her.
I should point out that my new PCP was shocked that the orthopedist didn’t at least suggest physical therapy, especially since I’m still in pain.
Anyway, I’ll continue to post about this, but I’m stopping the “chronology of pain” titles with this one.