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Self care and health care

Maybe it’s just me, but going to the doctor is exhausting. I think selfcare in general is exhausting and so I’ve basically automated my routine, or maybe created a standard routine it is the correct way to phrase that, to make my life as simple as possible. One thing I can’t do is that with is my health care. I can’t be the only one, so in the spirit of sharing, let’s talk about self care and health care.

In a lot of ways self care is health care. I brush my teeth because I don’t want them to fall out. I go to the dentist for the same reason. Both self care and health care, for someone like me anyway, are hard to do on a regular basis. Unfortunately, both are needed, so days like today, I’m left feeling exhausted. I’ve had trouble in the past juggling the two things and I’m sure it’s not just me… right?

It’s not that I have a fear of the doctor/dentist/etc. I don’t. You could stick me with a needle or cut me open all day and I’m good with it. The problem is energy, I’m already running on what amounts to nothing when my day starts, so I need to conserve what I have to make it to the end or risk, very literally, just trying to shut out the world. Times like that I will miss one or multiple doctors appointments and pretend like nothing is wrong. Self preservation manifests in weird ways when we live in a society like we do.

Most of the time I have to plan around a doctor’s visit well in advance. I’ll try to shift workload away from the day before, day of, and day after. It’s not always possible, but even a slightly lighter workload can be a lifesaver for me. Having a routine (like this) is important for me because it gives me a little nudge to actually do the things on my calendar, even if I don’t want to or don’t feel like I can. Going to the hospital for any sort of care is a mental health suck and an energy suck.

In my case, most of my long term care has been at the VA, which if your unfamiliar I absolutely hate the VA. It’s underfunded, understaffed, overworked, and done on purpose by the government to ensure that they can point to how crappy the VA system is and say, “you don’t want free healthcare, look at those poor bastards.” Consequently the VA feels like death, it doesn’t help that I’m decades younger than most of the people using the system, but it has a feel (or maybe a smell) like everyone has given up. It’s a given up smell. I can’t explain it better than that.

Unfortunately we all need to take care of ourselves and because I have a resource to do that (no matter how poorly funded) and now I have actual health insurance (woo!) I have no excuse to not take care of myself. In any case, if you have access to healthcare, it’s important to keep in mind that the longer you put off something the worse it will get and (most likely) the more expensive it will become for you.

Plus, being in pain or whatever is going on is horrible for your mental health, as usual, ask me how I know. Since I’m lucky (/sarcasm) pain medications do absolutely nothing for me (at least nothing good). So post surgery or whatever when I’m in a particularly high amount of pain I’m left to deal with the onslaught to my mental health that comes from that. Luckily that chapter is winding down, or at least mostly. This last year I only had one surgery instead of my traditional two a year that has lasted for ~4-5 years or something like that, frankly I’ve lost count.

Let’s be real though, going to the doctor can suck. Especially if you’re a complicated or “rare” case. People are hard to diagnose and being told everything looks good over and over can make you want to give up. Yet again, this is horrible for your mental health on both ends of the situation, first with your disease or whatever is going on and then with the doctor’s telling you everything is great like you’re magically cured. Or worse, they stop believing you or they question if you’re making the whole thing up. None of that is good and you may want to stop trying to fix the issue to begin with.

Just trust me on this, don’t. That’s easier said than done, I know. But I’ve had similar issues and I still deal with certain problems that I get side eyed by the doctors for, my weird pseudo-blister rash thing for example (here). Okay I should not have gone back to read that…

The point is simple, taking care of yourself includes letting professionals take care of you and (unfortunately) requires you to advocate for yourself on occasion (all the time). From one anomaly to another I’m sorry if that is you, truely. There is nothing worse than being told your suffering isn’t real. I see you because I’m in the same boat. But push we must, because no one should have to live anything less than the best life they can possibly have.

In the US unfortunately that means needing health insurance and because teeth are optional and considered a luxury here, dental insurance. High bars to clear for sure and again, it sucks that we’re in that situation, but all the more reason to take full advantage of getting care when you actually have access. Even if it sucks, even if it’s exhausting, even if the hospital smells like “given up.”

Today I had a doctor’s appointment, so I’m extra exhausted, but after years (from that post I linked above) of fighting, I got a referral to a rheumatologist even though all my blood work says I’m healthy. There are still health care battles I’m trying to fight and I don’t know how this one will end, but I’m thankful that I’ve pushed enough that I’m finally seeing a specialist.

In short, don’t give up hope, or at the very least don’t be afraid to lean on people to help you. The disabled community is huge and sometimes we’re forced to help each other. This is just a small reminder, to you if you need it, to take care of yourself for both your physical health and your mental health.

Because at the end of the day, health care is self care.


9 responses

  1. Ohh, I’m so happy you got to go to the new doctor. And that you got your referral. I suppose this is for the collection of weird autoimmune symptoms?

    No sleep/exhaustion management meds, though? That’s too bad. But maybe that wasn’t a topic of this visit.

    You might’ve seen me tweet this, but … late last year, I went to the dentist for the first time in over fifteen years. Yeeeaaaah. I hadn’t been since before I started college. There was a little aversion involved: on my last visit as a teen, a dentist wanted to extract my harmless, healthy wisdom tooth, just because it “might cause problems later,” and that really bothered me. But the more important factor was that it was too much of a hassle. Figuring out how my insurance worked and how to choose a good dentist, not to mention actually going, felt insurmountable and kept getting put off … I didn’t know how anybody had time for that. And then when I was working myself up to go at last, the pandemic started.

    Well, I finally had to go in because I had so much tartar buildup that my gums would never stop being irritated … and yes, I should have gone sooner. No cavities, but I did have gingivitis. Though I don’t think it was too severe as gum disease goes, it has still caused the bone around my teeth to recede in some places, and I’ll never grow that back.

    Same deal with the doctor. I went in for the neuropathy thing last year because I was scared of losing my ability to walk, which meant I got examined and tested pretty thoroughly … but I haven’t had a general physical in, oh, probably about two decades. My cat gets her yearly vet checkups, because I’m responsible for her, but worrying about me on top of that just feels too hard. Going out for two hours to keep an appointment can almost throw off my whole week – I’m not sure why it works that way, but it does.

    So, yup, I get it. But I’m glad you went in, and that you haven’t given up, and I hope your future specialist visit turns up something. It isn’t right that you have to live with so much pain. Doctors on TV will pull out all the stops to solve a mystery. Real doctors want to pat people on the head and send them home. It’s sad.


    March 10, 2022 at 9:04 pm

    • Thank you, yes the referral is for my fancy collection of weird skin/joint issues. The exhaustion stuff is (I think) part of the symptom list, but I did discuss it with the doctor. Unfortunately my preferred medication isn’t something he can typically prescribe, so I’m stuck relying on other doctors to get something for that stuff (maybe, hopefully, blah).

      I’m glad to hear you are taking care of yourself, even if you lapsed there a bit. I had the similar story with my teeth, but partly because I didn’t realize I even had insurance (prior to the years long struggle with my VA claim) so it was pretty bad when I finally went (but no cavities!).

      Funny enough I’m the same way with my cats, probably because I (feel like anyway) can take care of someone else all day and it’s no problem, but the second I need to take care of myself… well that’s some real effort.

      I agree that TV lied!! It’s frustrating, I wish we had a better healthcare system here in the US. I mean I’m sure other countries complain about their system, but we’ve been left so far behind it’s just sad.

      Liked by 1 person

      March 11, 2022 at 5:30 pm

      • Huh. I guess I didn’t know that general practitioners were limited in the medications they could prescribe. Does that mean you have to see a specialist to try to get your meds, or just … some other doctor?

        Liked by 1 person

        March 11, 2022 at 6:10 pm

      • It may be just a VA thing to be honest, not exactly sure since I’m still switching care (it’s taking a long time). I’ll probably need a referral, but I may wait until I’m getting non-VA care before trying again.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 11, 2022 at 6:27 pm

      • Oh! I was mistaken, I thought this was your new not-VA doctor. I guess you talk about the VA in the post, but I figured that just reminiscing.

        Well, if you got a referral to a specialist out of the VA, maybe that means there’s even more to hope for when you finally get to your new doctor.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 11, 2022 at 7:04 pm

      • Fingers crossed! I have an appointment with a new PCP soon (outside the VA), but I want to be careful about transitioning care so I don’t end up without care for a period of time. Even crappy care is better than no care… or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 12, 2022 at 11:00 am

  2. You are so right about routines. I almost mentioned it in a post, the subject of self care but chose not to because I needed to rest, really. I had noticed that I was not doing something I had done everyday without fail, putting on face moisturizer. I went months and my skin suffered. Anyhow, great post and great reminders for me. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    March 11, 2022 at 5:28 am

    • Aww I’m sorry to hear. I hope you’re feeling well enough to take care of yourself. It’s hard for sure, but it’s important. I wish you all the best!

      Liked by 1 person

      March 11, 2022 at 5:32 pm

  3. Pingback: Self care and health care – The Jedi Mind Trick

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