The challenge, when dealing with a chronic illness – in my case ME/CFS – is staying positive. Momentary improvements in health are toppled by extreme crashes. It’s like living in an eddy where, every once a while, the current quiets and it feels as if there might be an escape, and then the weather shifts and the spinning pull gains force.
When I presented at my doctor’s this week, I felt like I just didn’t have the psychological fortitude to keep going.
The doctor I’m referring to is not my normal family doc. Dr B is an MD, and anesthesiologist by training, but he has also extensively studied complementary approaches to health care. The first thing to do when arriving in his office is fill out a two page self-assessment; he then goes over this questionnaire and the medical chart before entering the consult room.
“It’s been a year,” I say in way of greeting.
“I see that,” he says. “Let’s review where we’ve been.” Dr B then proceeds to go over my initial blood results, our earlier goals, what we’ve accomplished along the way, and then he asks:
“So what would you say is your most pressing issue right now?”
I find myself, through tears, blurting out:
“I just have no strength, no energy. Everything feels too hard again. When I stand or sit my heart races, I sweat profusely and I just feel so sick.”
I apologize for crying, but he brushes that off and invites me onto the examination table. He checks out my shoulder, which since the last time I saw him now has a tear for which I’ve received a cortisone shot. He notes that it’s still frozen.
Dr. B uses muscle testing as a way to determine what the body needs. My body confirms my sentiments: adrenal and mitochondrial dysfunction continues to be my top issue. He explains how this manifests itself – basically describing my struggles. He prescribes a new regime of herbals and supplements.
Then he suggests some acupuncture for my shoulder.
I’ve been receiving acupuncture for seven years now as pain control, but never from him. I’m willing to try anything.
One single needle inserted along my left earlobe and my frozen shoulder releases. Really?!
As he explains the process and the connection, I suddenly grow weary, and in fact, fall asleep on the table.
Nonchalantly, Dr B covers me up, turns down the lights and lets himself out. Nature’s call awakens me sometime later and I emerge, embarrassed.
“He came out of the office and just told us you needed to rest,” my husband tells me on the way home. “Asked me if we needed to be anywhere, and I said no.”
One day later and the pain in my right shoulder and arm is still gone. I can lift my arm, get it behind my back, and reach for things. I’m still shaking my head in disbelief.
And I’m still chuckling over the fact that I fell asleep in the doctor’s office.
This is why I love Dr. B.
That, and the fact that I feel hopeful again.
Writer, avid reader, former educator, and proud grandmother, currently experiencing life through the lens of ME/CFS. Words are, and always have been, a lifeline. Some of the best adventures, I'm discovering, take place in the imagination.