I probably feel sicker today than I have ever felt in my life. I know that it is the medication and that my body is trying to find a new balance. The side-effects continue to mount. The tingling in my feet has now spread to my legs and I just feel, overall, unwell. Wellness is something we take for granted and don't really notice until it flees us.
I have this constant gnawing in the pit of my stomach that I can't really differentiate between hunger or abhorrence for food. The constant foul taste in my mouth makes all food unpalatable, and I find I have to force myself to eat. This concerns me as I really need the nutrition.
As I go through the twice daily ritual of of taking my medication, I find myself staring at the sorted drugs on the table and my throat reflexively closes. I have to 'trick' my esophagus to accept the pills with some other food, like cookies or applesauce.
I really only feel good when I am lying down, which I have done a lot in the past few days. I catch naps during the day, but remain wide awake at night.
The drugs are now affecting my concentration, making even dialing a phone number a challenge. As I lay in bed awake my mind wanders to strange places. I was contemplating the myriad of forwarded emails that people seem to circulate listing pithy phrases and 'feel good' scroll-downs and thinking how most of them are like a bite of a Butterfinger, momentary sweetness, but without substance. I began to compose my own banal list, but prudence stopped me; my mind, currently warped as it is would include such phrases as, "Sitting in a dark room is like a day without sunshine", or "Pictures of kittens are cute, until they become feral cats and attack you in your sleep".
When I finally do fall asleep, however, the effect causes vivid dreams. I dreamt that I was finally back to work in clinic and I was so far behind seeing patients that I was working late into the evening and the middle of the night. It was 4:00 A.M. and the hallway was pitch black so that I had to physically escort the patients to the front door. In the darkness I ran into Dr Chiu, (he is my partner and tends to work late). I thought that was funny.
I share these only as examples of how being ill can effect us. There is this underlying anxiety that I will never feel better. Intellectually, I know that this is not true. I will get better. But in the moment, you cannot deny what you feel.
Above all, I know that I am not alone. Every person that has been ill knows what I am going through. The important thing is that this teaches me to be more patient with my patients. Most of the time, what sick patients really need a listening ear, a caring heart and understanding.
Boy, do I understand now.
I hope that the memory of this will serve to make me a better doctor.