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Today I have an appointment to see a surgeon about the mass in my abdomen. I kind of wish I had kept my mouth shut and not brought it to the attention of my primary care physician.

A little more than a year ago I had an acute asthma attack coupled with or triggered by bronchitis that lasted for more than a month. I had to visit ‘urgi-care’ and have a breathing treatment because I was coughing so badly, I couldn’t catch my breath. I coughed so hard and for so long that it would make me gag. It hurt to cough so hard, felt like every muscle in my chest and belly was strained.

Not long after I started to notice a lump in the center of my abdomen, right above my belly button, under one of the scars from my gall bladder surgery. Initially I thought it was perhaps an adhesion from the surgery, as a couple people who had the same surgery had shared with me that that had happened to them. As time went on, the lump seemed to get larger and occasionally I suffered terrible pain upon sitting up or standing, right where the lump is. I found that I could mitigate the pain by manually pushing the lump in, into my belly.

I suspected it was a hernia, rather than an adhesion. Four months ago I spoke to my primary care physician about it. Her response was under whelming, to say the least. She looked at my belly, but wouldn’t touch it. She said perhaps it was scar tissue, but she didn’t think it would be a hernia, if some days it’s more pronounced than others. Her final conclusion was that it was ‘fecal matter’. I was stunned…

On my last visit I brought it to her attention again and told her I had just experienced a bout of terrible pain associated with that area and I was more concerned than before. She pressed on my belly and asked me to ‘bear down’. She looked me in the face and said, “I think it’s a hernia.”

She wanted me to call around and get the price for an ultrasound, seeing as how I have a 20% co-pay for everything on my insurance. She said to call her and she’d write the order and fax it to whichever location I wanted to have it done. I called back and told her receptionist I thought we should just go ahead and order it and I’d figure out how to pay for it when I got the bill. She told me the doctor wasn’t ordering an ultrasound, but a CT scan. She went on to say that posed a problem because they have a weight/size limit on the CT scanner and she was sure I exceeded it. She suggested that I schedule an appointment with a general surgeon, that perhaps he could take a look and through a hands-on examination he could make a recommendation about a course of treatment.

Between visits to my doctor my belly button had begun bleeding. There was a discharge of clear liquid or blood, every morning upon getting out of bed.

I called the office she suggested and told them she’d given me the name of a surgeon to schedule with. The office told me that that particular surgeon wouldn’t be seeing me, but his partner would because “he sees the larger patients”. She indicated that he was only in the office Wednesdays and Thursdays and he only sees new patients on Wednesdays at 2:00, a standing appointment they hold open for new patients.

I explained to her that was going to be difficult, as we only have one vehicle and my husband has it at work all day. I asked if they could juggled the schedule so that he could bring me after work. They told me they could juggle it a half hour to an hour, but nothing more than that. That still put the appointment outside of his ability to drive me. We held the appointment for Wed., May 2 at 3:00 but I was to try to secure transportation.

She suggested I get my primary care physician to order a CT scan, as the surgeon typically doesn’t see anyone before having one done. I explained to her that seeing the surgeon was my doctor’s suggestion rather than trying to have the scan, seeing as how the equipment has a size restriction. She insisted he would want a CT scan. I asked her how I could do that if they have a size and weight restriction? Whether he wanted it or not was moot, if they won’t/can’t perform the scan on someone my size. She went on to say that I could see him but to be prepared that he would likely order a CT scan. I decided to just drop the subject, seeing as how she was dismissing or ignoring what I was saying to her. I figured I’d cross that bridge when I get to it.

They sent me the new patient paperwork in the mail, so I completed that. I applied to STEP transportation, a ‘shared ride program’ for persons with disabilities (PWD) that offers a van service that picks you up at home, takes you to your appointment, then will bring you back home. The cost is $4.00 each way. The application process takes a bit of time, as you have to get a form filled out by your physician verifying that you’re physically disabled and then submit that with your completed application for approval, so there’s some shuffling of papers back and forth. I submitted my application and waited to hear something from them.

Last week the surgeon’s office called to tell me they had to reschedule my appointment for Thursday, May 3 at 2:30. I thought that kind of odd since the person I’d previously spoken to was adamant about a set time to see new patients and how difficult it was to re-arrange the schedule, but I told her to hold it for me, as I was still waiting to hear back about transportation.

Over the weekend I received my approval for STEP transportation, so Monday morning I called them to schedule a ride, one way, to the surgeon’s office. I explained that my husband could pick me up on his way home from work.

Well, today is the day… I’ve got my new patient packet completed and in my purse, I’ve got my co-pay in my wallet, I tossed my prescriptions in there as well. I’ve got my ride scheduled (they are supposed to pick me up 45 min. before my appointment time) and my husband is going to pick me up after. I’ve got my cane and jacket ready to go… now I’m just stressing.

I can’t stand doctors. Over the years, they have done more harm to me than good. When trying to resolve one health concern, their actions have triggered or caused another health issue. Since gaining so much weight, they have become ‘dismissive’ and often spend some portion of the office visit ‘scolding’ me for my weight, even though I have been pleading with my primary care physician for some 15 years to recommend a diet plan, to recommend exercise I can do that won’t exacerbate my disability or put me at greater risk for further injury.

Twice in the past doctors have told me there was s surgery that could have been performed that would likely give me some relief, but they were unwilling to do it. The first was a surgery to remove bone fragments from my sinus cavity that might have given me some relief from chronic severe migraine headaches, but the doctor said he couldn’t be certain that removing the bone fragments would make a significant enough difference, therefore he didn’t want to do the surgery… the second being surgery to remove the Synovial Cyst in my spinal canal. The neurosurgeon refused to do the surgery because he thought that I should lose weight first, then my risk of blood clot or stroke would be reduced, but at the same time he instructed me to stop the exercises I was doing because they could cause paralysis. He offered no other options for exercises that would be safe, just told me to lose the weight.

So, here I am today, sitting and watching the clock… dreading this appointment, fearing the worst.

I realized last night that when my husband stops to pick me up my Godson is going to be in the car and I’ve not seen nor spoken to him in 3 or 4 weeks. I don’t want to see or speak to him and I certainly don’t need the stress today.

I just want to be able to fast forward past all of this and have this day over with!

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