“Well, I moved a lot also. And I was involved with a community I no longer relate to. Several communities in fact.”
She ignored me.
“You don’t have health insurance?”
“No. Lots of people don’t have health insurance. Or savings. Most people have 100 to 1000 extra at any given moment. That’s it.”
She nodded but I knew she wasn’t listening.
“Having a thyroid disorder is one of the most common disorders.”
“Is that what I have?”
She didn’t look at me every time she spoke. She looked at the computer and the chart.
“I am waiting to get the blood work back. We will check your thyroid levels and calcium levels first. And b12 since you’re vegan.”
I am common. I am a common plague of malnourishment, a childhood diet of sugar and an adult diet of caffeing, overproductivity and poor self esteem, loose plans based on insecurity and no savings. I have no future plans. I don’t think about retirement or my parent’s retirement. I don’t wonder what would happen if I suddenly became paralyzed or sick. I am of average weight and height and financial status. My friends say I am pretty but my mirrors are currently covered with sheets so I can’t fact check and even when I can, a crone stares back and she is aging. I am of average intelligence in many ways except a friend told me I “synthesize quickly” and am above average but I get lost daily. I can do calculations in my head and predict and follow trends, but I can’t control my impulses enough to fit in. I am saved by the things that scare you: faith, the divine art of timing, gambling, cunning, luck and magic. I am also white and educated. My nails are long and acrylic and I feel guilty but I state patiently
“I am having trouble swallowing and sometimes I choke and spit my food out. My jaw gets tired of chewing and I feel like I can’t swallow. Sometimes I can’t swallow well on command either and I have sinus problems, seasonal allergies and post nasal drip. Once my lymph nodes got so swollen from post nasal drip, I couldn’t swallow.”
“Like a tightness?” he asked.
“Yes, I can’t tell if something is there.”
They stuck a tube up my nostrils and down my throat.
“You are fine. I don’t see anything. Your tonsils are fine and I see no blockages. Your ultrasound showed you have a bump beneath your thyroid that is probably benign. Your thyroid is fine. We need a blood test for calcium levels. In the meantime, I am prescribing you something for reflux to help with mucus.In six to eight weeks, if you don’t notice an improvement in swallowing, we will investigate further.”
But she said
“Your parathyroid is slightly enlarged. It’s amazing you can feel that. You are sensitive.
“The other doctor said it was a bump, not an enlarged parathyroid.”
“Yes, our parathyroid is enlarged but your calcium levels are fine. I can refer you to an endocrinologist but your blood work is fine.”
“Ok, but it’s the language I am confused about.”
“We can discuss that again when I see you on November 1. This is just a five minute script consult to make you you get the prescription.”
“I know but I am anxious and he said…”
“Did he look at your throat?”
“I told you he put a tube down my nostril and it went to my throat and saw nothing but he said it was a bump below my thyroid.”
“YOUR PARATHYROID IS ENLARGED.”
She raised her voice like my hearing is the issue. Hyperparathyroidism causes forgetfulness and confusion. She didn’t tell me that. I researched it.
“I know, but the language he used was different and I am not a medical student so I am confused and thyroid disorders cause mood issues…”
“This is not about your thyroid, it’s your parathyroid. It’s responsible for calcium.”
The other doctor had calmly stated, “problems with your parathyroid can cause major issues in your body including trouble swallowing.”
He said it causes problems in the body, parathyroid, bump.
“You keep interrupting me. I have an anxiety disorder.”
“Do you see a therapist?”
I ignored her constant interruption.
“Yes, and I am telling you that navigating a health care system without having health insurance while suffering from dysphagia and not knowing what is wrong is triggering. I am confused and…”
“Am I not explaining it to you? Did I not go over everything?”
Jump off the bridge, Cat.
She snorted, “I am sorry I am not sweet.”
“It’s not that you’re not sweet, it’s that you’re not listening and I am triggered.”
She faced me again, had raised her voice every time, and said
“I am taking up other people’s time to explain this to you. Your blood work is fine. Your parathyroid is enlarged and it’s great you can feel that but we will go over your blood work on November 1. If we need to, we will refer you to an endocrinologist. And I didn’t look at the ultrasound, only read the report and the report said enlarged parathyroid.”
He said, “Parathyroid enlargement can cause major issues in the body including swallowing issues.”
They are saying two different things, Cat.
I began to cry on accident, overwhelmed by the discrepancy and not remembering accurately enough or understanding enough to explain my fears. We had been talking max ten to fifteen minutes. I had watched the door the entire time and other people were in here the same amount, sometimes longer. Most of them could not speak English well. This should be easy for her.
“Are you seeing a psychiatrist?”
“I think you should.”
I am common, average of average income, navigating the health system without health insurance or solid knowledge of the body. I hold trauma in my body and could hear a pindrop upstairs from the basement or a change of movement of blood in my body or a breeze near your door. Any change in my body is felt and then felt again in my brain. I can feel a drop in temperature or a minute tick by or an unkind word spoken about me from a distance and I can feel my parathyroid growing, my bones snapping, my joints inflamed, unspecified pain and forgetfulness and I don’t cry in front of people.
“I am not seeing a psychiatrist and will speak with you further on November 1 but you should learn to hold space for reactions like this when I have explained that I have no health insurance and am navigating a health care system that is new to me while admitting I have anxiety.”
I walked home recounting every village I had burned. I was proud of myself for not making a scene. What I should have said to the callous, rude bitch is parathyroidism can cause major disruption in the body including joint pain, bone breakage and trouble swallowing and if I choke to death, my reason for coming to this clinic, between now and November 1, I hope you remember me every night right before you go to sleep. Somewhere near, someone opened their phone to watch me and a cyclist hit a car door.
“I remember what he said,” I said out loud watching the hand turn to a person across the street, “He said adenoma, probably non cancerous. She didn’t fucking care.”
“the act of naming things”