It's a GAD GAD World
Monday, March 22, 2004

I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow morning. The first one since he dropped the bomb on me. And I'm shitting bricks.

I am so scared that he's going to tell me I can't come back anymore. I still need him. Or more accurately, I need the meds.

The memantine is working WONDERFULLY!! Sunday night thru this afternoon I had a real burst of energy. Here's what I've accomplished in the past 24 hours:

*Answered all the job ads I'd circled in the NYTimes
*Went into the city to do some work at my job that I didn't finish Saturday night
*Printed off several journal articles (I'm trying to talk my doctor into doing a particular research project--long story, maybe I'll go into it later)
*Emailed several colleagues and forwarded a HIGHLY relevant Village Voice article to them--2 of them even emailed me back, and one of them took my resume!
*Did laundry
*Changed the sheets on my bed

Then around 6:30pm I took a nap. When I woke up @ 7:45 I was groggy & had no energy at all, but I gradually came around to normal.

My depression & anxiety symptoms are still present to some degree (like right now), but compared to what I went through in January & February, it's a breeze. And the side effects are barely noticeable.

But back to my doctor. Not that he ever asked me, but it was never my intention to mooch off him and get free medical care indefinitely. My game plan had always been to be a "charity case" until I landed that ever-elusive full-time job with benefits, then discuss with him the possibility of seeing him in private practice. I don't think either of us anticipated that it would take me this damn long to find that ever-elusive job.

And I'm hard on him. I'm unbelievably hard on him. Sometimes harder than I need to be, and sometimes I feel bad about it. But I feel like I have to be. I could do a gazillion blog entries and fill them with stories about how people's lives have been lost/ruined or otherwise made miserable because some doctor fucked up. But the point is, doctors fuck up. And they fuck up because they're either lazy or incompetent or overworked or they just plain make an honest mistake. And when doctors make mistakes it's the patients who pay the penalty.

I'd have no problem with doctors making honest mistakes if they would ADMIT to it. But they won't even do that. A doctor's first priority is not the health and well-being of his/her patients. A doctor's first priority is not to get sued.

So I feel like I have to catch my doctor's mistakes before he makes them. (And he's made a few.) Because he won't correct them, and I'll be the one who pays for them.

I'm going to try & get some sleep now. Tune in tomorrow...

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

...And I have officially been voted off the island. Got a phone msg from the institution this afternoon. I didn't get the job.

I have no concrete evidence to suggest that my doctor had anything to do with this, but I can't help suspecting him. It's been 2 weeks since our last appointment and I still want to strangle the crap out of him.

On the other hand, I'm terrified to lose him. Whether I like it or not, whether HE likes it or not, he's all I've got.

I also hung up on my friend this evening. The one friend who knows everything. To make a long story short, he pissed me off. As soon as I did it I called his home phone (we were talking on his cell) and apologized. But I'm probably still going to have to deal with some shit when I go back to work tomorrow.

Monday, March 15, 2004

I blew off a job interview yesterday.

Well, maybe "blow off" isn't entirely accurate. I showed up. But I walked out before it actually happened. It was at a jewelry/collectible place on West 57th. Nice area, very close to Columbus Circle, almost directly across from Carnegie Hall.

I walked in (actually, I was buzzed in), and it was this tiny cramped little store. A woman asked if I could be helped. I told her who I was, who I needed to see, and why I was there. Turns out it was the owner who was going to interview me. He hands me a soft binder containing company info & invites me to have a seat & read it while I wait.

So I sat down & started thumbing through it. The pages were brown, worn, & ripped. And it was filled with spelling & grammatical errors. And while I'm sitting there I notice that the owner guy is speaking in a very condescending way to both his customers and his employees. I also notice that one not only has to be buzzed in to ENTER the store, they have to be buzzed if they want to LEAVE. At first I thought that this might be for loss prevention purposes, but then I realized that all the merchandise was behind glass cases. It simply wouldn't be possible for someone to just stuff something in their pocket & walk away with it. Then I notice that if anyone tries to leave, the owner grills them on what their purpose was there. Almost as though he wasn't going to let ppl leave without convincing them to buy something.

The longer I sat there, the more I felt like a trapped animal. I had gotten there at 12:15. My interview was supposed to happen at 12:30. By 12:40 he was bogged down with customers & it didn't look as though he was going to be talking to me anytime soon. So I made my break. I stood by a glass case near the door and waited for someone to be granted the privilege of being buzzed out. As soon as that happened, I snuck out behind them. As I walked out I could hear the owner call after me, "May I help you, ma'am?" (Apparently he had already forgotten my purpose for being there.) I just kept walking. For a minute I thought he might try to chase me down the street, but thankfully he didn't.

Right now I'm thinking about whether I should ever schedule an appointment with my doctor ever again. On one hand, I need meds. I mean, I **NEED** meds. But on the other, I don't know if I can face him again. I am so fucking angry with him right now. If the doctor thing doesn't work out with him he should seriously consider a career in politics, because in the 8 months that have passed since I completed his study, he's done more waffling than Aunt Jemima.

I'm also afraid that he might make giving me meds contingent upon getting psychotherapy. And I simply CAN'T afford that now. I ****CAN'T****!!!!!!!!!!!!

The makers of memantine have a patient assistance program for which I might qualify. I could potentially get up to 6 months' worth of meds for free. My doctor just has to write me a prescription, fill out a form, and mail it to the drug company. And I could be out of his hair for 90 days. Then he'd have to take 15 minutes to repeat the process and I'd be out of his hair for another 90 days.

What would happen if I simply didn't make an appointment? Would he call? Would he email? Or would he simply do nothing and thank God that I've finally gone away?

I'm also thinking of starting to send resumes far away. Like, North Carolina & Pittsburgh far away. Even Illinois far away. I don't want to leave NYC. I like my apartment, I like my neighborhood, and I like being close to the greatest city in the world. But if I don't find a job by the end of April, I'm going to have to start relying on my retirement fund to pay the rent. And that won't even last a year.

I have friends in NC. And another friend/mentor is the VP of Student Affairs at a small college in IL. He's got a position open now for which I might qualify. He's supposed to email me tonight.

I was supposed to hear from the institution last week (y'know, the same one where my doctor works), but Friday I got an email from them saying they wanted to interview more ppl. That's not a good sign. Whaddaya wanna bet my doctor said something to them? Bastard...

Monday, March 08, 2004

One of the disadvanatages (yeah right, like there are any advantages) of being depressed is that it leaves you completely helpless and unable to do anything. That's why I haven't made any entries here in over a month despite a hell of a lot going on with my condition. I just haven't had the energy.

As I said in my last entry, I went back on riluzole. When I didn't get much better, my doctor put me on Provigil & told me to double the riluzole even though it meant I would run out faster. That helped a bit. I was still miserable, but able to manage. Then my riluzole ran out on 2/13 & I was just on Provigil 200mgs/day. I was doing better, but still no energy. During my last February appointment (it was on a Monday) my doctor suggested I double the Provigil & set up an appointment for the following Monday.

I got home that night, counted my Provigil, & realized that if I doubled up I wouldn't have enough to last me until my next appointment. I called my doctor's office # that night & left a msg telling him that. I was feeling pretty good that day, so I said that I thought I could manage on just the 200mgs until I saw him again.

Then I woke up Tuesday morning feeling like hell. It started around 3:30 am when I woke up & the insomnia kicked back in, rendering me unable to sleep. There was a free job fair in the city that morning, but I ended up not going because it just seemed like way too much effort to take a shower, put on a suit & go into the city & pretend to be normal like everybody else. I tried sitting at the computer, & I tried reading. That was about as strenuous as I got that day.

By noonish I realized that I couldn't take much more of this, so I called my doctor & got his voice mail. I left a msg saying that I didn't think I could make it till the next appt & that I'd like to come in just to get a prescription & a coupon. 90 minutes later he hadn't called back, so I sent him an email. Shortly before 3pm he finally called me back & said I could come in for a prescription.

When I got there I just burst into tears. He asked, "What's wrong?" (Like you have to ASK, shitferbrains??) I said something to the effect of: "I'm sorry...I don't mean to jerk you around. The disease is jerking me around. I know I'm being a pain, but if you think this is a pain to you, just imagine what it's like for me. I never know from one day to the next what kind of day I'm going to have. You saw me yesterday, I wasn't putting on an act. I was fine. And today I'm not." I took the prescription from him, then against my better judgment took $20 from the ATM & splurged on dinner at Wendy's.

That was Mardi Gras Tuesday. Wednesday I was OK. Thursday I was just totally stressed and anxious the entire day. On the way home from work I came down from being anxious & slipped back into depression. Friday morning I woke up early (insomnia again) & turned on the computer. As I was sitting there I could literally feel the depression lifting from my body.

That day (Friday) I called my doctor and again got his voice mail. Left a msg requesting to change my Monday afternoon appt since I'd picked up an interview. I also asked if I could have blood work done since I wasn't really getting much better and I thought maybe there might be something else going on that we might have missed. He called me back & said I could come in Tuesday morning & do the blood draw. He also said that it was going to be a very busy clinic day for him and that I should try to get there as early as possible.

So Monday night I'm getting ready for Tuesday morning. I decided that since I was having blood work done anyway, I should do a 12-hour fast and maybe have my cholesterol looked at as well. Tuesday morning I had a swig of orange juice and a carrot stick for breakfast & busted ass to get there by 10am. I walked into the clinic at 9:45 am. Doctor strolls in @ 10:15am. We go into a private room and sit down. As we're talking I start pumping my hands. He asks me what I'm doing & I tell him I'm trying to get my veins ready since I'm having blood work done. He tells me that he doesn't think it's necessary. I said, please don't tell me I did a 12-hour fast & rushed to get here for nothing. He then said something to the effect of "Well, it sounds like you're trying to call the shots here, and you need to let us do that." Then he starts ramming psychotherapy down my throat. (The only times in the past he's ever done that is when I've been emotionally upset--like the Effexor disaster and the Sybil episode--and I now recognize that "psychotherapy" is his code for saying "I can't deal with you and I want to pass you off to someone who can.")

Then he says that I need to be seeing someone once a week and that "I'm not equipped" to do that. He goes on to say that I've already received more treatment than anyone else in the study, and that I can't keep coming back. He then tells me I should try to get on Medicaid.

Then after he got done saying he couldn't continue to see me once a week he handed me a package of memantine (yay! it finally came in) and said he'd need to see me once a week for the first four weeks I was on the drug. (WTF?!?!?! First you can't see me every week, now you're telling me I have to come in every week!)

I walked out of there feeling like I'd been punched in the stomach. While I suppose I couldn't go on getting free treatment indefinitely, the whole time I've been going to see him since completing the study he's been reassuring me that this is normal, that "we treat ppl for free all the time", that "you're going to be in our system for a long time", "we can provide you with [meds] indefinitely", etc. And now this. I feel like I did something wronng and now I'm being punished.

Later that day I did a video shoot for Pfizer. (Long story, but they were looking for people who were on Xanax XR & had benefitted from it. So I signed away my privacy for $250.) The interviewer was a very nice man who also has a mood disorder. After the shoot was over he offered to buy me a cup of coffee. Since I hadn't had anything to eat that day, I gratefully accepted.

He was very sweet and very funny. It felt so good to be able to talk openly with someone about my condition. There's such a stigma about mental illness. It's like being gay. I totally understand about gays being in the closet now. Not that I didn't understand it before, but I understand it even more now. When I told him I had a master's degree in higher ed, he offered to spread my resume arounnd at a local university system where he has connections.

I'd give anything to be able to talk to him now. Friday I called and left a msg on his work # suggesting we get together for coffee or something. I was hoping he'd call back today, but he didn't.

I've also been looking into the Medicaid thing. The bottom line is, if I'm under 65 & hold down a job, I'm not eligible.

In another interesting development, I've interviewed for an admin position at the same institution where my doctor works. That would certainly make things interesting if he continued to see me as a patient, wouldn't it? My follow-up interview is tomorrow. I was supposed to have an appt with the doctor tomorrow as well, but I sent him an email telling him I couldn't make it. I just can't face him right now. I'm too hurt and angry and upset.

My kingdom for a pint of chocolate ice cream...

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