Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lost in Translation...

I have learned a new language. It has taken me nearly seven years and many hours of studying but I think I am pretty fluent in it now.

I call this language "Dr. Speak".

I first began the study of this ever changing language back in 1996 when I was diagnosed with what I thought was skin cancer. In actuality, what I had was 'malignant melanoma, Stage 1-2'. Well, silly me. My course study had begun.

I then went on to a much more aggressive,immersion style of study in 2003 when The Toots was born. I have learned terms that I never dreamed of. Bradychardia, for example, was the term used to describe The Toots' way too slow heart rate during delivery and then at birth. Of course, I have since learned that Tachycardia is the opposite. A heart rate that is too fast. I learned this while having severe anxiety and panic attacks during the time of my undiagnosed Thyroid cancer.

Okay class, we will now discuss endocrinology, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, TSH, Free T-4, papillary cancer, and radioactive iodine treatments. All words that are part of any person's vocabulary who has suffered from a dysfunctional Thyroid gland and/or Thyroid cancer.

Next comes my many lessons on pediatrics. Here are some very common place words for us to toss around during visits to Maine Medical Center or Childrens Hospital: Nissen Fundoplication, MRI, MRI with Spectroscopy, EEG, EKG, XRays, upper GI studies, stomach motility, modified barium swallows, microcephaly, Gtube, G-Jtube, nasopharyngeal reflux, ketones, acidosis, hypoglycemia, CBC, plain old 'levels', demineralization of bones, hip subluxation, scoliosis with C curve, botox injections, Grand Mal seizures, Petite Mal seizures, Clonic Tonic seizures, Focal seizures, Absent seizures, and the reports the doctors send back are just unreal as are most of my conversations with them. Here is a generic conversation that would be pretty normal for me to have with a doctor when calling with a 'crisis':

Doctor: "Describe her symptoms and when you first noticed them."

Me: "She spiked a temp. of 103 this morning. I first noticed a low-grade temp. last night. I am taking it rectally because the tympanic and temporal thermometers are not accurate on her. I am treating every four hours with alternating doses of Tylenol and Motrin. She is lethargic. She is responding to me but not in her usual way. She is diagnosed with hypotonia but fluctuates to hypertonic without warning and her muscles will spasm. She has an intractable seizure disorder. Her last seizure was earlier today, lasted for 8 minutes and was Clonic Tonic then Focal. I administered oxygen and Diastat at three minutes. She did/did not require suctioning. Her respirations are very fast and she is tachycardic. Yes, her breathing is labored. She aspirated during a seizure yesterday so I am worried she might have aspiration pneumonia. Her pulse-ox is at 91. Yes, it has a good steady rhythm so I know it is an accurate reading. Okay, I'll bring her right in. She is on the Ketogenic diet so she can't have a Dextrose IV."

That honestly is very close to most of my 'crisis' conversations with doctors.

But I have learned that doctors will give you more respect and listen better to your concerns when you can speak their language. And it is critical to The Toots that I am fluent in this in order for her to get the best care possible. I have been known to go toe-to-toe with neurologists at Childrens Hospital, nearly everyone in the Pediatric Suite at Maine Medical Center, and even her pediatrician, who I usually just love, and have them end up agreeing with me. It's all about what you can prove to them that you know and that you are serious and expect them to take you seriously in return.

And as Dr. Stephenson so wisely stated after one very heated discussion, "You don't want to bring Mama Bear out of the cave."

Uh, no, you don't. Grrrrr..

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