Remember how I said, “Never, ever, ask“? Well, I swear I wasn’t asking! But Karma has a wicked sense of humor.
A bit of background:
First, I’m needlephobic. I’m pretty sure this fear is related to my fear of spiders, hornets, and venomous snakes. I can mostly control my reaction, meaning I no longer have an urge to punch unsuspecting phlebotomists while running from the doctor’s office, but it’s bad enough that just thinking about someone else getting an injection can cause my blood pressure to spike high enough to be referred to a cardiologist. I have worried that a diagnosis of diabetes would kill me, if I had to take insulin – because I’m not sure I could be trusted to inject myself. You know, “Let’s not, and say we did.” I have visions of my poor, long-suffering husband having to chase me around the room, tackle me to the ground, and pin me down to stab me with a hypodermic full of insulin. Might be fun, once or twice, but he’d eventually tire of it, I’m sure.
Second, my mother had serious health problems. One of those problems was COPD; she smoked heavily all her life. I smoked, but never heavily. I quit a dozen years ago, and can beat a healthy grown man on one of those “incentive spirometer” devices. They gave me one with a little smiley face drawn on it in Sharpie marker, when I had breast cancer surgery. Called it “Mr. Happy.” That’s really only amusing when you’re on a morphine drip. Anyway, another serious health problem, osteoporosis, led to my mom taking her own life in 2002; she suffered two spinal fractures, one just from turning her head too fast while brushing her hair. Due to the COPD, she wasn’t strong enough to survive surgery that might have relieved the pain, and she hated being loopy on painkillers. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. She was also terrified of being an invalid. Who isn’t?
I mentioned that in the post, Never, Ever, Ask that I may be having spinal surgery near the end of the month. I had looked at my chart, and noticed a line that said I’d had a bone density scan in the last 24 months. This was an error, and I urge you to always look at your own medical records to be sure that they are accurate. I told the surgeon that I had never had a bone density scan, and asked, given my mother’s medical history and the fact that I’m post-menopausal, if maybe I should have one before we started operating on bone so near my spinal cord. The surgeon immediately referred me for a DEXA scan, which I had, yesterday morning. So, the plan is now complicated – somewhat – by a diagnosis of osteopenia and early osteoporosis. After talking to the surgery scheduler, it’s probably not severe enough to not do the surgery. But it also means starting treatment to prevent bone loss and build new bone. The only medication for that – the only one that actually builds new bone, rather than just stopping the loss of bone, involves…
…daily injections. FML. When she called to give me the diagnosis, which I already knew (at my request, the testing center gave me a CD with the DEXA scan results, so I had them before the doctor did and had already called the office to alert them), I told her, “I know. I told Dr. C the other day that if he had a problem with me knowing things and Googling things, we’d have to part ways. Not only do I know, I’ve been researching – and I already have a treatment plan.”
She laughed. “Okay, what’s your treatment plan?” I like these people already, I really do. They’ve not once been abrupt or dismissive or condescending.
“Twenty four months of Forteo. The only thing I’m not sure about – do we proceed with surgery as scheduled, or wait till late summer to see if the drug’s working first? Oh – and can I stop taking it for two weeks this summer, when we travel?”
“That is exactly what we recommend to our patients. And you can travel with it.”
“I know I can travel with it, but to Europe? For two weeks? It has to be refrigerated. That’s going to be a pain in the ass.” Doable, probably, but you know airline travel. I don’t want to inject myself with toxic – or ineffective – crap just because it went bad during a layover. And it’s not exactly cheap. One device lasts a month. I don’t think I get a “travel pack” with this.
“Good point. No, it won’t hurt to take two weeks off then.” Cool. I’ve got priorities, you know. I really don’t want to miss that trip – I’ve sworn, if I do, to sit in the doctor’s waiting room and sob, loudly, in front of all his other patients. I’ll scare them off.
I get hard chills just thinking about the damned needles. But guess what? I’m geared up for WAR. This mother****er is going down. This disease is not going to kill or disable me or get in the way of working or living – I intend to live to be at least 96 (both my grandmothers made it to their mid-90s, so it’s not far-fetched). And I mean live. If I do, I may even try skydiving, like George Bush, Sr. That which doesn’t kill us makes us strong, so look out world, I’m going to be doing all my own stunts, from now on. As if anything could stop me.