Out of Phase
GP: And then we have doctor — oh, Dr. [gastroenterologist] sent me an endoscopy, right.
Ejourneys: Mm hm.
GP: All right. He said there was some things not emptying properly.
Ejourneys: He thought that it might be gastroparesis.
GP: But you did the [inaudible] study?
Ejourneys: Just the endoscopy.
Partner: He put the camera down and –
GP: I got that report.
GP: He thought you may have gastroparesis. That’s what he said. He thought that you might not be emptying your stomach properly.
Partner: What would be the symptoms?
GP: Like, six hours after you eat, if you still feel like very full, like as though you just ate –
Partner: No. Six hours I probably will have eaten at the four-hour mark.
GP: Ah. So then you’re okay.
Partner: Um, the look on the stomach made me think that it was stomach stapling.
GP: You had it done before, right?
Ejourneys: Not an endoscopy.
Partner: I –
GP: No, she’s talking of her stomach stapling?
Partner: Yes, the way the stomach looked. It was not like any of the stomach pictures I saw on the Web.
Ejourneys: It’s [my partner's] interpretation of the photos.
GP: Oh. Please forget about it. [laughs] [Partner], you’re a very difficult patient to [treat?]. I don’t know if you want to find another physician, because I don’t see eye to eye with you. Because you do your own management. Then either you should manage your own or come to me. It’s very difficult for us to go when you keep on doing manipulations in-between. Either you manage your health yourself, don’t go to a doctor, or let the doctor take care of you. We don’t have an MD degree for nothing.
Partner: I understand –
GP: I know that. You can read, but you manipulate your own medicines and stuff and that’s no good. That’s how your thyroid got messed up in the first place. You didn’t do what I told you to do. You cut it in half. You were supposed to take one and you decided you had to cut it in half. And then you went too low, and then you decided to take four times the dose –
Partner: No, that’s not true.
[both speak at once]
GP: You were taking half and then you were taking two of them at one point. And then you went down to one. Thyroid, that’s what you told me. I prescribed the one, you were taking half, and then you went too low. Then you started doubling up on the pill, which was 0.1 milligrams.
Partner: I think there is an inaccurate record here.
GP: Anyway, what you did was wrong. You shouldn’t have manipulated the medicine on your own. Okay? You should listen to the doctors.
Partner: The reason I think I did anything at all is because I read in the Physician’s Desk Reference book version that I have, is that, uh, Synthroid can cause hypo-thyroid.
GP: [Partner], I’ve been in practice for 30 years, okay? I have yet to see one person get hypothyroidism from Synthroid, okay?
Partner: It was in print, so I thought maybe it’s true.
GP: Well, then, you need to manage your own health. That’s what I’m trying to tell you.
Partner: Okay, so I have this in print. It’s supposed to be for other people. I didn’t know.
GP: I’ve gone to medical school. I’ve gone through residency. Nobody taught me that thyroid [sic] causes hypothyroidism. Then why would we give it as a treatment for hypothyroidism if it causes hypothyroidism, right? It doesn’t make sense.
Partner: No, it didn’t –
Partner: Unless it had to do –
GP: So what you are reading is rubbish. Where you are reading it, I don’t know, but it’s not correct.
Partner: The Physician’s Desk Reference, thick book –
GP: The PDR does not say hypothyroidism is caused by thyroid hormone replacement –
Partner: I’ll bring it in next time and you can see it –
GP: I have several copies of PDR.
Partner: Okay, let’s go read it there.
GP: I don’t have time. You can manage your own health.
Partner: Okay, here’s — here’s one thing. It’s this about, um, it seems that the — the aging studies –
GP: Mm hm.
Partner: Um –
GP: So what’s your ideal weight, according to this?
Partner: It’s higher for older people is what I am getting from these.
GP: [inaudible] Yeah.
Partner: And so this is why I would be accepting the weight gain and not fighting it off and eating small amounts.
GP: Yeah, you are how tall? Five-four or five-five?
GP: Yeah. So far 135 is okay.
Partner: I had been five-four and a half, rounding up, but I accept that it’s five-four now.
[GP takes BP]
GP: One-ten over 72.
Partner: Not bad for when there was just shouting in the room.
I felt bad for the GP (who seems harried even without the likes of my partner), but it was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud. This is the kind of stuff I deal with every single day, through much of our waking hours.
I used to get bent out of shape just as the GP did. Now I’m like, Whatever. The GP did use a bit of hyperbole — to my knowledge, my partner never took four times her prescribed dose of Synthroid. But she did and does monkey around with her dosages. It can drive a doctor crazy. I’ve become laissez-faire to preserve my own sanity. (A friend suggested that maybe the doctor meant four times the halved dose. But still.)
After the appointment, my partner told me she was very proud of herself for standing up to the doctor. She further postulated that the doctors all put her in a position to fight back as part of a collective effort on their parts to teach her to stand up for herself. o_O
The following day my partner had her intake at the county mental health clinic. I secretly gathered her therapy and neurological records ahead of time because my partner would be upset if she knew I’d done it. She has rebuttals to what everyone has said. I turned the records in while my partner was in another room, filling out her forms along with other people. The session, just for form-filling, went from 5-7 p.m. Even with my help at the end, my partner needed until 7:30 p.m. Other than staff, we were the last people to leave.
I don’t know what if anything can be accomplished with Therapist #4, since #1 through #3 had written of their own frustrations. To wit:
“[Partner] again became defensive and spent much of the time making excuses, going off topic under evaluation and requiring cuing to focus her responses. I reviewed all the assertive communication lessons given, which she stated that she did not recall….When I again questioned the issue of sanitary conditions in the home [partner] was able to evade the issue by launching into a discourse on another topic about her physical issues. When pressed to address the issues under discussion, [partner] could not give a clear yes or no answer, even to the simplest inquiry. I notified both ladies that I would be…leaving the agency….Client wants to continue therapy. She will need to be transferred to a better therapist than this writer, as I have felt frustrated in my inability to help [partner].” — Therapist #1
“[Partner] needed constant redirection and feedback, as she was unable to stay on topic, becoming tangential and at times “gently” argumentative. When feedback is given, she has to work very hard to listen to it without building her own rebuttal at the same time. She also tries to write everything down so that she has ‘facts’ that she can use to argue against what is being said or asked….Multiple interventions during session to keep [partner] on task, to clarify the communications given and received between them, and to clarify again that the best therapeutic fit for [partner] at this point is the Clubhouse.” — Therapist #2
“Patient is very resistant to any type of change and suggestions….The clutter in her home and the continual obsessions are not lending any quality of life for either person in this relationship. I am willing to continue to listen but am not able to make any significant impact toward recovery. The treatment plan for symptom relief, goal setting, baby steps towards more social interaction and independence was not effective. Only supportive therapy was possible with this Patient.” — Therapist #3
My partner is going back into treatment so that she can be allowed into the Clubhouse, which she believes can get her a job lickety-split. She has fought against going to the Clubhouse until recently. I take a wait-and-see-attitude. We were told at the clinic that, having filled out her paperwork, my partner can now go to the Clubhouse at any time and does not have to wait for her therapy assessment appointment next month. As of this writing, my partner has chosen to wait. Her prior gung-ho attitude seems to have evaporated.
I am not surprised.
The mental health clinic is the only mental health facility we have in this county; the next closest one is about 30 miles away. Of the three therapists my partner has seen down here, the first two had worked at the clinic (and are no longer there) and the third had been a private therapist of my partner’s own choosing. Therapist #3 left the practice after treating my partner for about a year.
I included the following memo with the package of records that I turned in at the clinic:
—– memo start —–
Attached are the following:
1. [Partner's] Power of Attorney, which I hold for her. Please note that I am NOT her legal guardian.
2. Office notes dated February 11, 2013, by [partner's neurologist], detailing her condition including her cognitive dysfunction from multiple sclerosis. Please note item (1) under [neuro's] impression: “Presumed primary progressive MS dating back to the 1980s. At some point there was a psychiatric disturbance considered but I am not certain whether this is primary or secondary, i.e., coexisting, but she certainly has enough white matter disease to be consistent with an organic schizophrenic issue.”
3. Letter dated December 22, 2011, to [neuro] from [cognitive neurologist], who confirmed [partner's] diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Please note [cognitive neuro's] impression on page 4: “My impression is that [partner's] entire history and current presentation are almost certainly entirely related to multiple sclerosis. MRIs currently show very extensive white matter pathology in a pattern strongly suggestive of multiple sclerosis, most particularly by virtue of extensive involvement of the corpus callosum. The findings from CSF analysis lend further support to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. There is sufficient involvement of orbitofrontal white matter to account for the ‘psychiatric’ features of this illness and [partner's] current interpersonal behavior as well as her problems in managing her affairs and the evidence of impaired judgment.”
Please take these neurological observations into account when assessing [partner] and formulating your treatment plan.
4. Treatment notes from [Therapist #3], dated July 18, 2012.
The following documents predate [partner's] MS diagnosis and are also in the [mental health clinic] archives:
5. Neuropsychological consult and testing report from [neuropsych testing center], dated May 10, 2011 (this document was also submitted to [Therapist #2 at the clinic]).
6. [Therapist #2's] intake evaluation (Jan. 26, 2011) and office notes at [the clinic] during 2011.
7. [Therapist #1's] intake evaluation (April 20, 2009) and office notes at [the clinic] during 2009 and 2010.
Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you.
—– memo end —–
After hearing that the clinic had a six-month backlog in processing its archives, I decided to give them copies of what they are supposed to have anyway, just to be sure.
I handed the package to the medical records staff member, whom I had contacted earlier with a question of my own. I had received therapy at the clinic from 2009 through most of 2011 when, like my partner, I had been maxed out. When I got my own records from the clinic I received only those from 2009 and 2010. I had been trying, on and off for over a year, to get my records from 2011. During that time, there had been at least two incidents of turnover among the records staff, plus the clinic’s reorganization.
Finally, the staff member I saw had an answer for me: my therapist (who also no longer works at the clinic) had never written anything up from our sessions that year. All the clinic had on record were the dates that I had been seen in 2011.
Between that and various other incidents, I’ll just say that I am not impressed by this place. That said, it is the only mental health facility we have in the county, and it also runs the Clubhouse.
I know the name of the person my partner will see in October, so I plan to call ahead of time to see if that person has indeed received the package I handed in.
The other day my partner told me that she objected to my writing “self-diagnosed” on her medical history, for those conditions she claims she has but that a doctor hasn’t confirmed. When we put her medical history file together, she insisted that I include those conditions.
I guess that means I’ll have to start keeping two files — one that I show her and one that actually goes to the doctors.
Next week she sees the podiatrist because she wants to “uncurl” her pinky toes, now that she feels she is “standing up straighter” due to her weight gain. She also thinks her toes are webbed. (They aren’t, from what I can see.)
Denise said, “The word that came out for me when you both were talking was a sense of….helplessness. And I’m wondering if there is a sense of helplessness sometimes. Ejourneys, what do you think?”
I didn’t have to pause on that one at all. I said, “All the time,” and added that I had to surrender to that sense of helplessness in order to cope.
Is my partner treatable at all? I honestly don’t know. She fights the doctors, and the therapists, and me. She dismisses her actual disorders and obsesses over phantom disorders. She objects when I do my best to communicate with healthcare practitioners. More times than not I find myself sneaking around behind her back in an effort to educate them as to what’s really going on, hoping my message will get through.
I keep reminding myself that this is all part of her disorder. She is as helpless against it as I often feel I am against her. Helpless enough so that I am careful about what I say on the show — since I am at home and more times than not my partner is on the other side of the door, listening to my end of the conversation.
That’s another reason this blog is a sanity-saver for me. My partner hasn’t come here yet. She is more focused on gathering evidence for her “theories.”
Sometimes, the best thing I can do is just give her a hug and keep my mouth shut.
- Slices of Life (caregiving.com)
- Cocooning (caregiving.com)
- Tell Us: In Social Settings, Do You Say, “I Care for…” (caregiving.com)
- Signs (caregiving.com)
- #%$*ty Weekend… (caregiving.com)
- Days of Future Passed (caregiving.com)