Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Keep a Healthy Attitude, or at Least an Attitude

“Though the doctors treated him, let his blood, and gave him medications to drink, he nevertheless recovered.”

I have a friend who has familial hypercholesterolemia (Cholesterol 356; HDL 67, LDL 268, Triglyceride 179) and cannot tolerate statins because they cause severe, persistent, acute and chronic pain in the patient’s trapezius, sternocleidomastoid, levator scapulae, and deltoid muscles, as well as temporomandibular joint radiating into the skull and down the patient’s arms. While always experiencing generalized soreness and aches in neck, shoulders and arms, about once a year a bad thing happens: my friend experiences a generalized muscle spasm in one or more of these muscles that can last for days at a time. This last time the spasm lasted for every minute of 26 days and nights - which, apart from making the patient cranky, kept them from sleeping without serious meds - which, apart from creating a serious dependence on hydrocodone, made the patient psychotic from sleep deprivation – and which, apart from availing themselves of their health insurance, did nothing to relieve my friend’s dreadful pain.

Wait, maybe since my friend and I are not medical professionals and thus cannot possibly understand such big words it would be better for me to describe my friend’s neck pain using some comparisons to things regular people might understand. The muscle spasms were to a stiff neck as an ax buried 2 inches deep into the back of the neck at the base of the skull is to a gentle tap. Trying to relive the spasms by massage was like rubbing a bag of doorknobs, and as about as successful. The headache endured 24/7 was to a pressure headache as being kicked simultaneously and repeatedly behind each ear by two angry kangaroos is to a gentle breeze.

Finally, I will resort to a somewhat non-technical word that best summarizes the quality of health “care” that my friend has not received: compassionate.

Fortunately, during the past month while being shuffled on the merry-go-around of referral to no less than 7 specialists, up to and including psychiatrists who inquired about whether the patient was hearing voices, and while being denied the prescription muscle relaxants that have controlled this pain for 25 years, the muscle spasm finally subsided. While still experiencing some sleep disturbance related to weaning off the hydrocodone, my friend has regained the will to live.

Thanks for nothing, Kaiser Permanente.

No comments: