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nausea

Thanks to the straight (and stern) talks from you, I went to see a doctor today. Just a random doctor since I don’t really have a family doctor. My Ob-Gyn is the only doctor that I “keep in touch” throughout the years. And oh, yes, my dentist. I have been forced to drop quite a few family practitioners in the past when they 1. suggested that I get my tubes tied after I had my second child, 2. ordered expensive tests that still cost thousands after the 80% insurance pay when the disgonosis turned out to be Achilles tendinosis (So no, nothing to do with my nerves), 3. mis-diagnosed my blood clog as a muscle tear.

I gave the good doctor the litany of my symptoms: nausea & vomiting, dizziness, headache, sinus discomfort (but not pain nor pressure), stuffy feeling in my ears. I shared with him my theory of this being allergy-induced since my “condition” started a month ago when Spring supposedly arrived. I appreciated his gallant efforts in not rolling his eyes in my presence. I also informed him of some new development: running nose, a fever, and possibly the worst chill I have ever had in my life.

After all this, his diagnosis? “Are you suffering a lot of stress lately?”

I am a working mother with two rambunctious boys working full time commuting downtown with the company headquartered in another state 800 miles away and a boss that is scheming to either get me to move there or to get rid of me and a husband that travels 50% of the time for work. So yeah. I guess I am stressed.

“Have you suffered from any head injury? Did you hit your head somewhere?”

Why? You read my blog or my tweets?

“I think this is tension headache.”

Hello? What about the nausea and the vomiting?

“Are you married?”

Do I look tired and not care how I look? Yes, I am married.

“You should ask your husband to rub your neck.”

I rolled my eyes.

“Ha ha. Yes. I should write you a prescription to get him to do this, and if I submit it to your insurance, they may even pay him! Ok. Here is what I want you to do…”

Miracle drugs?

“I want to get some blood tests done to rule out the usual: thyroid, glands…”

Really? Why am I NOT surprised?

“And then I want you to get an MRI. I am worried about the headaches. The MRI is going to come back clean, but I want to rule anything out before I talk to you again. So after you get your MRI, call me, and I can talk to you about Tension Headaches.”

Seriously? Is an MRI even remotely necessary in my case?

Like a good Chinese girl (brought up in a Chinese society let me emphasize this), I did not question the good doctor. And really, should I even question my good fortune? I am blessed enough to be covered by a top-notch health insurance plan: the free health insurance provided by my company is a Cadillac plan. It covers everything. No pre-certification required for most of the expensive tests. If the doctor does not even want to wait and wants me to get an MRI before he even talks to me more, which I am actually able to get right away without having to call the insurance company and go through the labyrinth of paperworks, unlike say people on Medicare, should I not be grateful?

Fine. Call me an ungrateful bitch. But here is what I thought as soon as I walked out of the doctor’s office:

Son of a bitch. He is worried that he may get sued if something happens to me and he did not order me an MRI.

How much of the root cause for the rising health care costs in the U.S. is due to the fear of lawsuits?!

(Yeah, I know. You will be wanting to see me eating my foot if the good doctor was right and the MRI does detect something. THAT will solve all the questions about “What the F is wrong with you?!” in more ways than one. And seriously, if something is growing inside my head, you cannot fault me for being a bitch so would you really still want to see me eating my foot?… So the way I see it, either way, my foot will stay as far away from my mouth as humanly possible. Ha!)

All this rambling reminded me of a post from February 18, 2009, “Americans pay $650 billion more for health care than comparable countries…” when there was absolutely no traffic to my blog…  Reading the conclusion I drew more than a year ago,

“In the United States, the ‘average’ consumer of health care pays for only 12 percent of its total cost directly out of pocket (down from 47 percent in 1960), as well as for 25 percent of health care insurance premiums, a share that has stayed relatively constant for the last decade.  Well-insured patients who bear little, if any, of the cost of their treatment have no incentive to be value-conscious health care consumers.”

This sounds familiar but now we have the numbers to back up our suspicions:

In order for any health care reform to work and stick, it is important that we carry out the education and cultivation of a new generation of patients that are “value conscious” and treat the burden of health care, even when they do not have to pay for it DIRECTLY, as ultimately their own INDIRECT cross to bear.

I am saddened and a bit ashamed, seeing how I will be getting an MRI after all, albeit begrudgingly. I am only human – I do not want to bear the unnecessary risk of not getting this MRI just to make a point, especially since it is readily available to me. So that puts us in a bit of a conundrum, doesn’t it?

Foot in my mouth after all.

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Throw Up

March 23, 2010

in random

Preamble

If you have a very sensitive gag reflex you probably should skip this post. Or read it with a bucket nearby.

To the warriors I know and love, Kate and Elly, nobody could know what you and your loved ones went through. Chemo-induced nausea is no laughing matter. And I hope my not-so-amusing musings on throw-up does not offend.

We all know that eating disorder is debilitating and sometimes life-threatening. If you or your loved ones suffer from bulimia, I hope you are not offended by this post either.

Oh, by the way, just to save you from disappointment: I am NOT pregnant.

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If I feel compelled to include a long preamble before I feel comfortable talking about a subject, why do I even do it?

Because I am sick and tired of throwing up. I am sick of feeling sick. And I need to purge some knots and bolts inside my cranium shaken loose undoubtedly when my body was rejecting whatever was inside me, with brutal force. This is my mental throw-up. Again.

Let’s start from the beginning, and I’ll share a secret with you. I can hold my liquor really well, and I believe that I can drink most people under the table. Two tricks: will power is Number One. If you are determined to get drunk, you will behave like a fool after downing a non-alcoholic beer. When I feel the buzz, the glittery invitation to Happy Land, “Just let go!” I tell myself, “Do not get drunk. If you feel like screaming, just smile. If you feel like howling, just cry.” The second trick, the Secret, is GO THROW UP. I am a champion at throwing up. No shit. Any businessman (I used the gender-specific term for a reason) worth his weight in Taiwan (and I suspect in many Asian countries) knows how to force himself to throw up when he finds himself no longer able to hold the liquor. You go throw up, you come back, you keep up the good fight at the table. Drinking and deal-making (or whatever it is that you are going after) come hand in hand. Whoever lasts the longest wins.

As a woman you soon learn the trick. You drink them under the table. You beat them at their own game.

So I have that history with vomiting. To some extent, I see it is a way for your body to help you clear the mental department, get rid of whatever doesn’t jive with your insides. At the very least, your hangover won’t be as bad the next day.

With both of my children, I suffered from what they would call “severe Morning sickness” only that my morning seemed to last the entire fucking day.

I am sorry if I am not writing in paragraphs. I am just spewing out sentences now. A period makes a sentence, you see.

I actually lost weight during both of my pregnancies. More than 15 lbs. in the first two weeks. Big boobs, thin waist. What I had dreamed of having all along. Whoever is up there does have a wicked sense of humor. For my second pregnancy, I threw up from the first month until the day of delivery. So combined, I’ve had more than one year of daily practice, practice for feeling the urge, for keeping it down, for letting it go.

By the end, I was a master of it. It’s almost banal.

My husband called it, Worshiping at the porcelain throne.

By the end of the violent retching, I was literally hugging the bowl. I sometimes invoked the deity in the midst of tears, “What do you want? What else do you want? There is nothing. Nothing left. Can’t you see?” Still, the mythical force inside me tugged at the innards so I dry heaved, gagged, my mouth opened, my rib cage lifted and compressed, air rushed out along with one of the most dreadful, despairing sounds. I imagine I sounded like a banshee. Probably looked like one too.

And surprise, surprise, I have a theory for this too: if men could get pregnant, we’d have found a cure for morning sickness before we’d sent a man to the moon.

Lately my head is constantly inside a toilet bowl. After every meal. I am suffering from perpetual motion sickness as if I could sense the movement made by the Earth.

Somehow my current condition reminds me of the toilet scene from Train Spotting a lot. You know the scene I was talking about. The one when he fell into the absolutely disgusting, beyond description, you have to see it to understand the magnitude of what it means to earn the label “The Worst Toilet in Scotland”, toilet bowl.

My permanent nausea is caused by something decidedly unpoetic: allergy. The chain of reactions goes like this:

Allergy. Sinus. Ears. The little hair in your ears that I always imagine to look like Nemo’s anemone swaying in a vacuum. Dizziness. Motion sickness. Puke.

I walk around all day going about my daily routines, feeling transparent. I could tell the specific locations of my digestive track: Here is my stomach. Here my esophagus. Here my throat. Here my mouth.

Unlike the main character in Sartre’s Nausea who soon started questioning his own existence, the urge forces me to come to terms with my physicality. The whole lot of meatiness. The anatomy. There is no getting away from it. I feel my existence. And it is not really a good feeling to be acutely aware of yourself at all times. I am the red person under a special “Oh no she’s going to puke” detector.

I keep my mouth pressed tightly so nothing would come out by accident. I go about my business: making the kids dinner. Doing the dishes. Gesturing for them to eat their dinner otherwise there’ll be price to pay. Giving them “the look”. At the same time I sense the stuff being squeezed all the way into my brain. Through my cheekbone, the veins, into the temple areas. Behind my eyes.

“Sorry, kids. Mommy has to go throw up.”

“Ok, mom.”

I walk calmly upstairs, change out of my good clothes, turn on the radio, turn on the fan, spray Clorox cleaner on the floor and the rim and the bowl of the toilet, scrub the toilet, flush the toilet. And I get ready for the wave.

The toilet bowls are sparkling clean in my house lately. Because staring at a dirty bowl when I am throwing up makes me nauseous.

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ETA: Wisdom gleaned from Christine‘s Comment: “Lesson learned: drink hard and vomit gently.”

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