Being a patient is one thing, but being a caregiver can also be stressful. Especially if the person you are caring for is not compliant to what you are doing to help them. I want to start a series describing situations in my life that left me in one on one situations with my doctors.
I often hear people complaining as well as praising their doctors. I do not know, justify or disprove their reasoning, but I do understand that it takes two and one without the other is not capable of achieving the end goal of better health for the patient.
Doctors are unique individuals with strong/weak points and being human, individual personalities. One such doctor is Payson Oberg-Higgins. Payson became my nephrologist after arriving to Maine Nephrology Associates. She, at the time of being assigned as my doctor, started having me do multiple blood tests to check any and “everything “ that could be wrong with me. I was feeling great, but she seemed obsessed about finding out “why” if my labs were the slightest bit off.
During this relationship with Payson, I experienced multiple tests, three surgeries and a host of examinations that, at the time, made me question was it overkill due to my feeling so well.
One day a virus hit me and because of Payson’s unrelenting diligence of taking care of me, it was detected early and I was quickly admitted to the hospital. My stay was long, but no surgery required. I entered the hospital in October, was released and then admitted again two days later. I was very sick from the virus which rendered me diabetic by attacking my pancreas and injuring my liver. I was discharged from the hospital 70 lbs lighter and beaten down from the ordeal. It was the 22nd or 23rd of December and I had a follow up appointment with doctor Oberg-Higgins the next day.
Payson, always being thorough, went through my records and asked me a simple, yet shocking, question. I couldn’t believe what she asked, knowing what I had been through the past few months. That I had pancreas and liver damage, lost 70 lbs and was weaker than a newborn kitten. This question crossed the line and I felt she was now pushing beyond the boundaries I had set for her. She asked; “Have you worked out yet?”
Are you kidding me?!
She was writing as she asked this, head down deeply into the notes that were placed before her. “Workout?!”, I responded with disbelief and anger.
“I’ve been in the hospital for the past two months, lost 70 pounds, just got out two days ago and am now in your office and you ask me if I have been to my gym to workout?! No! I have not!” I know she could tell in my voice I was not happy with her question. She never looked up for she would have seen the anger in my expression. I mean what doctor would ask such a thing knowing of the situation I had just been through. However, Payson didn’t stop there. “You need to go workout”, she said as she continued to write, head down. How I responded at the time came without prior thought, but was a reaction of what I had dealt with. Without her knowing, I flipped her the middle finger. I didn’t just “flip” it, I brought it forth with such power, I extended it beyond my normal reach! I held it firm with veins pulsating in my forearms. I had so much force behind it that it shook up and down because of the torque behind it. It shook so violently, like as when Bruce Lee would shake after he punched someone with his punch of death..
Payson never saw this act and I never told her. I left her office that day filled with a renewed angry energy because she pissed me off. We had a special relationship and I felt she had gone too far, asked too much and didn’t give me the sympathy and understanding that was due. She didn’t care to wallow with me in my self pity.
On my ride home, I began to realize what she thought of me. She knew what I was capable of, despite how I felt or what the medical report said. She understood that my body and mind needed to resume my former activities and it would help me heal faster, that I was different from other patients. This is when I realized how much she was vested in me, knowing me so well as to feel comfortable to tell me to go workout two days after being released from the hospital. On my drive home, I diverted from the turn to my house, I went to my gym. I worked out, I felt good. A year or so later, Pay son informed me of her relocating out of state to be with her husband. She gave me a hug with tearing eyes. I played the mocho role as I hugged her, I told her I understood and thanked her for all the years she had been my nephrologist . Just as when I flipped the middle finger without her noticing, I shed tears the same way. Great loving, caring and passionate doctors come by once in a while and I am fortunate to have had her as my physician.