This isn’t the first time that it’s happened but this time hits particularly hard.
I went to the doctor at 20 and complained about heavy, painful periods. He referred me to a gynaecologist who told me that some women who haven’t had children jus have really painful periods and it couldn’t be that heavy if I was using a cup and a pad. A woman with a really heavy period only uses te thick overnight pads. At 21, I went in for an ear infection. The doctor demanded to know why I came to see him if I knew what was wrong with me, gave me a child’s dose of antibiotics and told me not to take them. Both times, I waited until things got worse and then went to see another doctor. Both times, I was correct in seeking a second opinion.
This time is a bit more of a challenge because I’ve already had a second, third, and even fourth opinion but the doctors that make the decisions don’t seem to care. I donated a kidney two months ago and one of the potential complications is an incisional hernia. When they cut through the abdominal wall, it leaves an area of weakness that can allow the intestine, fat layer or other tissue to protrude. If the protrusion becomes trapped or pinched by the surrounding muscles, it is classified as incarcerated or strangulated. If the protrusion happens to be intestine, this can lead to loss of blood flow, tissue death and overall death. Doesn’t that sound fun?
Now, I first presented with symptoms on a Friday as part of a fundraising walk for the Kidney Foundation. I checked in with one of the medical staff, who happened to be a doctor, and he said he thought it was an incisional hernia and if it got worse, I should probably go to the emergency room. Doctor 1. It got worse, I went to the emergency room and the ER doctor said the same thing. Doctor 2. My hernia reduced, I felt better, I went back to the walk and it got worse. So back to the medical staff I went. I saw the doctor from Friday as well as two other doctors who all had the same thoughts. There were literally three doctors gathered around the table, poking at my abdomen to see if they could get the stupid thing to go back in (cue the bad jokes here). Doctors 3 and 4. The hernia would not reduce so they sent me to another ER. Of course right as I laid down for this doctor to take a look, everything relaxed and popped back in. She said that’s just what hernias do and gave me a list of things not to do, like lift stuff. Doctor 5.
Because I am a living kidney donor, any concerns with the surgery are supposed to be brought to the transplant clinic. I met with my family doctor earlier that morning for a prescription refill and he took a quick look and asked me to keep him in the loop with what the doctors at the clinic said. Doctor 6. This is where I ran into resistance. I had a great chat with the nurse who took my blood pressure and admired my choice in hernia belt. My insides were nicely tucked away where they were supposed to be and not trying to become my outsides.
I had been doing everything right. Unfortunately, this came back to bite me. There were no giant bulges so the doctor decided there was nothing wrong. They agreed to do an ultrasound but also said that they wouldn’t do anything for at least 6 months even if the ultrasound did show something. But the ultrasound wouldn’t show anything anyway. To add insult to injury, the doctor pointed out that I was slim so there was no chance of missing a hernia.
Tears didn’t fall until the doctor left the room but as soon as the door shut, I broke down. Over the past 4 days, I’d spent a collective 12 hours waiting in various waiting rooms, been poked and prodded, missed sleep and medications and not been allowed to participate in the fundraising walk that I’d signed up for a year prior. Now I have to wait until it either gets bad enough that I need emergency surgery or it just goes away on its own. In the meantime, just suck it up and deal.
Right now I am tired, sore, and frustrated. I do not regret giving my kidney to a stranger but I’m pretty damn close.