I’m Good (But I’m Really Not)

Lately, I have been breaking a cardinal southern rule. My mama raised me that when someone asked you, “How are you doing?” you should always answer with one of the following phrases: I’m good, I’m okay, I can’t complain, etc. The problem is, I’m not doing good. I am in near-constant pain with periods of more intense pain. The Botox treatments for my headaches were working, but for some reason, they haven’t been able to handle the current painful headaches I’ve been having. For a month or so, I have compromised with saying, “I’ve been better.” Yesterday, a coworker asked if I was feeling better; I simply responded, “No.” I’m tired of trying to put on a brave face and say that all is okay. It is not. I haven’t gone so far as to be brutally honest and say, “I feel like shit, and I am always in pain.” I’m getting close, though.

My mental and physical state is declining. I am tired. I am depressed. I am at my wit’s end. I need some answers. Maybe I will be able to get some after my MRI next Tuesday. I talked to the nurse at the Headache Clinic, and she had talked to my neurologist about which MRI I needed to have: the closed or open MRI. She recommended that I get the closed MRI because the images are better, and if there is something small, the closed MRI is more likely to catch it, whereas the open MRI might not. I made the earliest available appointment: Tuesday night at 7:30 pm. So, next Tuesday, I will drive down to New Hampshire and have the MRI. I’ve never been fond of driving long distances at night by myself, but I have done it before, and I can do it now. I didn’t want to have to wait even longer for the MRI.

Luckily, I got a notice from my insurance yesterday that they have approved the MRI, and they did not specify which one they would allow me to have. The letter just said that Cigna approved me for an MRI with and without contrast. Cigna’s Informed Choice Team has not tried to call me again to attempt to convince me to have the cheaper MRI, and I’d refuse if they did. Cigna’s Informed Choice Team told me the first time that it was my choice. Yesterday, I got an email from Cigna with the subject “Tell us about your Cigna service experience.” They should not have asked me that because I rated my experience very low, and I told them exactly why it was such a terrible experience. I know they will dismiss my criticism, but they need to know that they cost me a week in getting a test that could be essential in diagnosing the problem and possibly saving my life if the MRI shows something terrible. I pray that there is nothing deadly found, but I want to know what they might be able to find out.

When doctors in the past have ordered CT scans, x-rays, or other tests because they could not diagnose what was wrong with me, it has each time turned out to be something. Once, it was pneumonia. Another time it was epiploic appendagitis, an uncommon, benign, self-limiting inflammatory process of the epiploic appendices. Luckily, that time it was not appendicitis. The most recent time I had an x-ray, they found bursitis and arthritis. Luckily, none (other than the pneumonia diagnosis) was anything horrible, but it did provide peace of mind. Mysterious pain can cause all sorts of psychological issues when doctors have a hard time diagnosing the cause of the pain. For me, at least, I begin to wonder if my pain is even real, though I know that I feel the pain. The worry and depression can cause further health issues.

While I talk about my pain and health on this blog, I only talk about health issues with those closest to me in real life. Susan hears all about it and is always helpful in alleviating my worst fears. My mother hears about it when she will actually listen.  But most of the people in my life, I rarely tell them about issues I am having. I don’t want to be seen as a complainer, and I don’t want their pity. I want people to understand, but I do not want pity. I talk about my health on this blog because someone could have the same health issues, and it helps to know that you are not alone. I want to help others if I can, and I would like to know that I am not alone.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

2 responses to “I’m Good (But I’m Really Not)

  • Steve Davis

    I’m glad you’re sharing more of your experience with those around you and with the insurance people. I’ve often found if I can get past the middle manager I can actually get a more compassionate response. I’ve been praying for your health and freedom from these migraines. I know it’s not the cure all, but I hope it helps to know others are sending you good energy and positive thoughts. Maybe if the doctor and MRI tech looks like the guy in the picture you’ll get a little relief!

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