As I described in The Broken Bat(mart) a couple of days ago, not to mention at least half of my posts here on the website, I am suffering from a fair amount of pain, to the point of feeling physically and mentally battered and very close to almost broken. I’d thought that it was pretty bad when I was working in restaurants, but after a six month sabbatical, and subsequent employment at a far more physically demanding job, it turns out that it has gotten much, much worse. Like I mentioned last week, in Agony- 13.5 Years, I was very near the point of quitting before I’d truly managed to get started. Honestly, I believe that it was only the shame of having to give up so quickly which managed to bolster my tenacity and allow me to stick it out and try to find my footing. Pride, however, doesn’t do a lot in terms of pain relief, and even though it hasn’t been as bad as that first day unloading the truck, I could feel the cumulative effects of so much physicality, and knew that I would have to finally do something. Normally, I would have been tempted to utilize “back channels” to locate what I needed (after having had such a miserable experience with my last physician), but because of my employer’s policies, that could have wound up costing me my job. So I waited until payday, and got myself to the local Urgent Care offices.
I didn’t hold much hope, mind you, that anything would happen, considering the hoops I had to jump through (not to mention the hundreds of dollars in co-pays for doctor appointments and medication which didn’t work) just so that nothing would, even in the slightest bit, change, aside from the size of my bank account. And, considering how much time I had to wait before finally being admitted, I’m amazed that anyone actually saw me at all. At least when I go again, I’ll be in the system, and won’t have to sign so much infernal paperwork. I was sitting in the waiting room for nearly an hour, being kicked (I hope by accident) by a parade of toddlers running past me on their way to and from their mommies and the toys back in the corner. I did my best not to scowl at them, as I generally do like children, but considering that I was in there because of extreme (Extreme!) leg pain, every little kick against my foot shot spears of agony up through my legs, resonating loudly just behind my knees as they ascended. Needless to say, by the time that I was finally called back, I was nearly in tears.
Things I learned from this visit:
1) I have gained nearly fifteen pounds since quitting my last job.
2) Apparently my blood pressure is bad enough that both the nurse and the doctor could barely conceal both their surprise and concern about seeing the numbers.
3) The beds they have to sit on in the exam rooms are precisely the wrong shape and height if you are suffering from leg pain.
I’d thought that it was a long and mind-numbing wait to get into the exam room, but it was so much worse once I was in there, despite the fact that toddlers were no longer smacking up against me. If it weren’t for the constant painful throbbing in my legs, I might have actually passed out from boredom. When the doctor finally entered, I had lost the boiling pit of vitriol which I had been nurturing since that morning, and was only able to describe my pain with a sigh of resignation. Considering how everything wound up playing out, that may have been for the best. I told her how this wasn’t something new, and the nonsense that I endured at the hands of my last physician. I told her how my current job was the only one to call me, and though it’s physically destroying me and refusing to provide me with enough hours to live on (especially considering that they’re only paying me minimum wage), it was all I had, and that I needed to find a way to keep going back. I told her that I knew that my expanding girth was contributing to my pain, and that half a year of relative inactivity, while a welcome respite from the pain I’d felt those last few years that I’d been working, had only made it that much harder when I wound up going back to work.
And then the most amazing thing happened: I told her what the physical therapist had told me (which my doctor had ignored) which was that I should be on muscle relaxants, and instead of arguing with me, she just nodded, and motioned for me to continue. For the first time in well over a decade, a doctor actually listened to me. Maybe it’s because most drug addicts aren’t hitting up their doctors for muscle relaxants when they could be there for more powerful narcotics, or maybe it was that she heard the truth of my pain hidden somewhere in my voice. Whatever it was, she told me that she’d be prescribing a muscle relaxant for me, and something for my pain. She then left me waiting for another half an hour, so as to make sure that I remembered that I was still dealing with the health care system in America. The nurse came in again, with the two prescriptions, and wished me well, apologizing for the delay, and reassuring me (though a bit belatedly) that I hadn’t been forgotten. I thanked her, and gimped out past a newly refilled waiting room and off toward a pharmacy.
I normally go Walgreen’s when I fill prescriptions, but my legs were hurting (as I may have mentioned once or twice), and so it was that I finally paid a visit to the little pharmacy less than a block away. I think what really sold me was that they advertised “15 Minute Prescriptions”, and the soonest I could hope to get them from the nearest Walgreen’s was at least an hour, and then, only if there wasn’t anyone in line ahead of me, which, considering that it was almost five o’clock on a Friday afternoon, didn’t seem too likely. I don’t know how much my meds would have cost me, but that day, at least, I was more concerned about sooner than cheaper. Within eight minutes, measured from when I first walked in the door, I had my bottles of Tramadol and Baclofen. They’d cost me $47.00 (and the Urgent Care visit had run me $45- which meant that I had spent almost half my check on medical care for the next week), but for the first time in what could have easily passed for forever, I felt almost human again. The walk back to my apartment didn’t hurt, and I was able to greet my waiting son with loving attention instead of pained tolerance and distance.
Obviously, I cannot continue to spend half of every paycheck on medicine so that I can keep working at that job, but for now, at least, I feel the future is at least slightly brighter than it was before. My fingers are crossed, and my knees are no longer killing me. Here’s to the future!