To those of you who have good doctors, appreciate them; doctors who go to bat for you; doctors who listen to you with empathy and do not doubt you when you say something is wrong; doctors who, when they don't understand something, admit to it and assure you that they will do whatever they can to find out more; doctors who, if you find out without their help what is wrong, will want to learn more about what you discovered because it could potentially help another patient.
I am sorry to say that I do not have a doctor like this, and he's known me for almost thirty years. Seventeen months after his initial incorrect diagnosis and finding the cause of my debilitating pain, I saw him to share my real medical condition. I am no mind reader, but his body language and lack of follow-up or interest in my condition spoke volumes. I have never been seriously ill in all the time he's known me, and I mostly saw him for my annual pap test. When we saw each other, his customary greeting was, long time no see, and I would respond, that's a good thing. When I left his office, I would say see you next year, and that was that. Wash, rinse, repeat!
I didn't need his medical expertise for anything serious…until I did. When my upper body started to tighten up, and the pain became so excruciating that it felt like a vice was squeezing the very life from me, I needed him. When the pounding in my solar plexus, head, and chest wouldn't let me rest and was made worse by internal tremors that wouldn't let me sleep, I needed him. He diagnosed me with IBS and clogged arteries. He was wrong! I was then left to maneuver my way through the medical system with no help from him, someone who knew me for more than half my life.
Fast forward from 2017 to now. I wish I could have fast-forwarded what is arguably the most challenging four years of my life. I have been healing from a spinal condition that affected my ability to move my body, sleep, or even sit quietly without feeling like my chest, neck, and head will explode after something as simple as walking up a few stairs. Turning in bed in the middle of the night revved up the pounding, and many times, I couldn't sleep for hours. I am taking care of myself again as best I can, driving, showering, dressing, etc., without help…a huge milestone for me. However, the pounding in my solar plexus, chest, head, and neck continues to concern me. I don't know what is pounding, my heart or something else. When I initially told my doctor about this symptom, his diagnosis of clogged arteries made no sense because he didn't do any testing. He said it might feel like my heart was working harder than it is, but it wasn't, and he held on to his clogged arteries diagnosis like a toddler holding on to their favorite toy he didn't want to share. Four years later, I still have the symptom.
This leads me to why I recently contacted him after losing faith in him four years ago. Throughout my experience, I have not been able to take medication for pain because no matter what I tried, everything from cannabis to oxycontin, they always seemed to make my symptoms worse or had the opposite of the intended effect. I made up my mind to endure the pain, believing it would be all over one day.
Enter Covid-19 and mandatory vaccinations.
I know this virus has shattered lives worldwide, and millions have lost their lives, and livelihoods. Many couldn't see their loved ones before they passed, and many passed alone. I understand the sorrow of knowing I will never see my beloved uncle again because he died alone in a hospital and was cremated without loved ones to send him off (He didn't have Covid-19). Watching the global tragedy unfold in the media got so overwhelming that it made the pounding so much worse, and I stopped watching the news. I am acutely aware of the havoc this virus has wreaked on people's lives, the economy, and our collective mental and psychological health. I also know how important it is to use any means to mitigate further destruction.
However, after enduring four years of physical pain and the emotional and psychological trauma of being repeatedly misdiagnosed, internal tremors, and an infernal pounding in my chest, abdomen, and head that no doctor can explain, and the adverse effects I experienced when I took any medication, I wanted my doctor to know my concerns about getting the vaccine. I explained that I still have the pounding sensation and manage it by 'staying under the radar,' meaning I don't do things I know will aggravate the symptom, like physical or emotional overexertion.
My concern: I don't know what effect the vaccine would have on my already compromised nervous system: the tremors, and the pounding. My question was, would he do an exemption based on my medical history? I'd read the guidelines for which an exemption can be granted, and I know it was a long shot to ask. I was not questioning the vaccine's efficacy or safety, and I am not coming at it from any fears about how it has or has not affected other people. Most of the people I know who got the vaccine are perfectly fine. None of the people I know who got the vaccine are compromised the way I am.
According to my doctor, billions of doses of the vaccine have been given worldwide, implying that nothing has happened to these billions of people. Again, this is not about how the vaccine has impacted others, either positively or negatively. I agree with him that billions of doses have been given, but short of talking to all these people to find out if anyone has the same symptoms I do and has had the vaccine without any adverse effects, his statistic has no bearing on me. I only know what I've endured the last four years trying to get my health back with no help from him or the twenty-six doctors who misdiagnosed me, with everything from fibromyalgia to mental illness.
My real concerns were met with these words from my doctor, "I cannot help you; go get the vaccine."
I am aware there is a chance that the vaccine would have no adverse effects, but I am also mindful that it could. My concern is if my body were to react negatively to the vaccine, I no longer have the financial or emotional support I previously had, and because I am alone, I won't be able to care for myself.
When I didn't think I could be more disappointed, he said to me, "go to the person who diagnosed you."
Whatever little faith I had left in him that prompted me to call ask for his help, immediately evaporated. My disappointment was visceral.
The person he so casually and with a hint of sarcasm referred to is a chiropractic doctor. He has been instrumental in my healing and understanding of what happened to my body when no one else could. Still, he cannot give me a medical exemption. I know that, and I know my doctor knows that, so why would he even say something so, for lack of a better word, absurd, is beyond my understanding. I will not make assumptions about the irrationality of his suggestion that my chiropractor could give me a medical exemption because he knows that chiropractic care isn't considered legitimate by the mainstream medical community. I cannot wrap my brain around how some medical doctors continue to disregard chiropractic as a valid healing modality. Thirty-one pairs of nerves exit the spine and weave their way around the human body. One doesn't need a medical degree but only a modicum of common sense to understand that if the spine is compromised in any way, it could have detrimental effects on the nerves and the rest of the body. But I digress.
During the last four years, I lived in isolation because I had no choice, and it was easy for me when the lockdowns began because I was already a prisoner in my body and my home. I had financial and emotional support then, but my circumstances have changed, and I am now alone. After being ill for over four years and spending every minute of every day clawing my way back to some semblance of good health, I have to find a way to support myself. I am functional, but I still have a way to go to regain my pre-injury health, still needing treatments and physiotherapy. Once again, I am left out in the cold by my doctor, someone who took an oath to help and, I say with some trepidation, advocate for me. After his statement, I outright asked him if he would not advocate for me, knowing what I had been through over the last four years. I must admit that deep down, I thought for a millisecond that my doctor might have wanted to make up for his misdiagnoses which sent me on a seventeen-month journey through hell, suicidal thoughts, and the emotional trauma of doctor after doctor discounting my real medical condition. I thought he would take it as a second chance to show his dedication and support me.
He reiterated, "I cannot help you, get the vaccine."
What does one do at this point? I said thank you and hung up the phone.
This blog is not about the vaccine. It is about my body and my decision not to risk taking something I have no way of knowing how it would impact my already compromised neurological condition. It might have been a no-brainer to get the vaccine if I didn't have the neurological issues I am still healing. No one can tell me how my body will react to this vaccine or any other medication for that matter, which is why I chose not to put anything in my body for the last four years. Even though I fell through the cracks of a flawed medical system, where I had no control over how doctors viewed me, I should be allowed some form of control over my body. To be hired by most companies, I have to show proof of vaccination. I don't care about going to restaurants, ball games, or concerts, so deciding not to be vaccinated didn't initially affect me. Now that I have to find employment, I will be forced to get vaccinated with no assurance that someone will care for me if something were to go wrong.
One may argue that I could face the same risks if I contracted the virus, and I would agree. I am caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, but sometimes you have to trust the devil you know instead of the one you don't. What I know is more people have gotten the virus and survived than those who didn't. It is my choice to take my chances with the virus. I will continue to socially distance and take every precaution deemed necessary by health care professionals to protect myself and others. This is not about advocating for or against vaccines. This is about advocating for myself because I have been through hell and back, trying to find and recover from a debilitating health condition that was slowly stealing my life. I know this issue has divided families and communities and affected every facet of our society, but my body is the only thing I have dominion over. My very well-being is on the line.
For me, this could be a matter of living with more health complications than I could manage. This issue is causing so much anxiety that the pounding has worsened, causing debilitating headaches, and my ability to control it is diminishing. My concern about finding work to support myself after being out of the workforce for over four years, being alone, and worrying about a mandated vaccine I don't want, is enough to send one in a tailspin. I don't fear death from Covid-19 or anything else because, at one point, I saw death as a welcomed reprieve. However, the idea of living a life with additional or more complicated health problems than I currently have by getting a vaccine I don't want is not fun...not after the last four years.