The emergency room is not anyone’s idea of a desirable destination. When living with chronic health conditions, it is not merely undesirable, it can be a dangerous place to be. When I consider the potential repercussions of going to the hospital, I often wonder if the effort is worth the outcome.
I have mast cell activation disease. Chemical exposure is a common trigger for the inflammatory response in mast cells that produce a host of symptoms. Hospitals pose a risk of potential exposure to chemicals, as well as dangers related to having an immune system deficiency. For these reasons, and the likelihood that my concerns will be dismissed, I often choose to stay home.
On a recent weekend, I considered these risks and other hazards of venturing into the war zone, otherwise known as my local hospital. An unrelenting headache that had been exacerbating my already severe insomnia for weeks was nagging at me. Perhaps there was something more than my usual configuration of chaos propagating this throbbing pain.
After some moderate cajoling from a family member, I prepared to enter the battleground. My mask, antihistamine medication, and a thick veneer of defensiveness accompanied me as I walked through the all-too-familiar doors.
After waiting a surprisingly brief time to make it from triage into an examination room, the doctor entered. Despite my skepticism and anticipation of being disregarded and dismissed, a small ding of hope sounded in my brain upon realizing that I didn’t recognize him. A clean slate without prior meddling in my extensive medical history could facilitate some shred of hope for help.
Under the fluorescent lighting that surprisingly did nothing to augment the throbbing in my head, I eyed him. With both of us hidden behind masks, eye contact became a thread of connection. As strong as my initial skepticism was my surprise that he seemed to be familiar with the chronic condition that was most likely the source of my headache. Moreover, he expressed concern over potentially dangerous repercussions if I was having a crisis. Not only did he believe me, validate my concerns, and follow up with appropriate bloodwork, he clearly informed me that should specific results come back, he would admit me.
Offering intravenous fluids in the meantime to attempt to lessen the headache and rehydrate me, I felt an unfamiliar sensation course through me along with the cool fluids. Hope. The glimmer of hope brightened further with his succinct recommendations for an appropriate doctor to manage my condition. The reality of living with chronic conditions for most of my life is that I have become cynical and distrustful of doctors. I’ve been dismissed, belittled, criticized, minimized, and rejected hundreds of times to the point of avoiding standard medical care.
After my bloodwork came back with stable results, I left the emergency room with more than I had come in with. This had never happened to me before. Having received reassurances about the source of my headache, validation that I was correct to come in to be evaluated, and a recommended follow-up, a flicker of motivation bloomed. The information I gained from this visit influenced me to reach out, research, plan, and regroup in the name of healing. Alongside my research was an opening door in my mind inviting new healthcare professionals into my world to help me.
Instead of clinging to the notion that every doctor on this planet is ill-equipped to understand or assist me, I chose to believe differently. I decided to believe in the existence of knowledgeable, compassionate, creative people interested in contributing to my dream of wellness and full health. And what do you know, this week I found one.
The emergency room visit prompted a cascade of events leading me to a physician with the aforementioned attributes, and more. I had one of the best doctor’s appointments that I’ve experienced in many years. Who knew going to the emergency room could be just what the doctor ordered?
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disorder. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.