Word of warning: insomnia-fueled rant to follow. Or maybe it’s just a prolonged whine.
I slept through my prime blogging time again, after being awake from somewhere around 11:30 p.m. past 4 a.m. Maybe I should have tried blogging then, but I was trying to sleep. And I was feeling my cold seep down into the lymph nodes at the base of my jaw and on the top of my throat, which is what happened three or four times last year from January through March.
Here’s a whine of mammoth proportions: I don’t want to do that again.
I’ve already used one of my three sick days for the year. What day is it again? January 3.
The option I contemplate — and always discard, after trolling through (not trolling on — that’s an entirely different thing) the internet — is a tonsillectomy. The internet is not an encouraging place for an adult with tonsil issues. This is the theme of every post out there: I was told it would be extremely painful, but even so I wasn’t ready for how much pain I was in for two/three/four weeks.
And apparently this surgery grows more dangerous to undertake each year someone ages.
I try debating myself: what’s a couple-three weeks of extreme pain if it gets me out of what last year was three months of major discomfort?
At one point in my life I was ready to discuss this surgery. I had undergone surgery (which terrified me in the run-up; I don’t know why, but I was sure I was going to die on the operating table) for my nose and sinuses. Good news: I didn’t die, and I healed much faster than the surgeon expected (which I attribute to post-surgical acupuncture and which he attributed to his own superb skill).
Bad news: right before I went into surgery, already terrified, the stupid anesthesiologist leaned over and said, “This isn’t going to help your sleep apnea nearly as much as if you removed those tonsils.” Nothing like being told you’re undergoing the wrong surgery minutes before you get put under.
In the aftermath of that surgery, I was willing to discuss a tonsillectomy, but the doctor (we can either try to say otolaryngologist or settle for ENT) was extremely focused on a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (here we opt for UPPP) which removes a lot more tissue than just the tonsils, causes the patient/victim to spew food out his nose, and comes with indifferent results. Sometimes the tissue grows back.
And, of course, there’s the pain. This was before opioid abuse was all the rage in health news, but I’ve never been able to tolerate those types of pills anyway. They make me nauseous, and do nothing for pain. I expressed concern over this, and the doctor’s response was quite cavalier: you’ll be in the hospital for a couple of days, and there are a lot of pain meds; we’ll just experiment. That was not inspiring.
That’s kind of where I started losing enthusiasm for this particular doctor. (Why am I not naming names? Dr. Merrill.) A colleague of his (Dr. Griffin) had already seriously pissed me off: I went down to Grand Junction for allergy testing, administered by an assistant, and Dr. Griffin then scheduled a follow-up. Lynn and I each took a full day off from work, drove the 2.5 hours to Grand Junction (and the 2.5 hours back). The doctor came in, said, “Well, you’re not really allergic to anything, and I don’t recommend immunotherapy at this time.” He looked a little embarrassed, so he peered briefly in my ears and my nose, and then sent me out to pay $545. Insurance negotiated down, but he still received several hundred dollars for that “visit,” which could just as easily (if not as lucratively) been handled by a phone call.
Now Dr. Merrill has started to evince these same sort of practices. Our friend Carol drove to Grand Junction and back for a one-sentence diagnosis that she’d already been given by an audiologist. She eschewed any further action with that office, and went to Costco — yes, I said Costco — which by many accounts has become the leader in hearing issues. Really. Costco.
And Lynn . . . well, Lynn (and I) have been back and forth to Grand Junction several times about her ears. In the latest iteration, we went down there in order for her to get tubes inserted in her ear drums, which was supposed to relieve the fluid everyone told her was behind them. She was told to schedule a follow-up, which some very kind woman in the office managed to squeeze into one of their monthly trips to Gunnison.
They also asked for a follow-up with an audiologist, who told Lynn one of the tubes was missing. Lynn saw a physician’s assistant, not Dr. Merrill, for the first follow-up, and after asking if she’d seen an audiologist and what did the audiologist say, he told her the tube was there; it was just congealed by stuff that had oozed from behind the ear drum and hardened. He said he was prescribing a different, much cheaper ear drop (it wasn’t; it was the same expensive one she’d already been prescribed), and told her to come back in a month.
That time she saw Dr. Merrill, and after asking if she’d seen the audiologist and what did she say (apparently it’s too much trouble to actually read reports that get sent to the office), he expressed great surprise that one of the tubes had indeed fallen out. “This almost never happens,” he told Lynn.
And then his solution was that she schedule yet another specialist-infused price tag appointment to remove the other tube. What was the point, doctor? Multiple hundreds of dollars to put them in, and when one falls out less than a month later, the suggestion becomes more multiple-hundred-dollar appointments to take the other one out? Where’s the “Ooops, that shouldn’t have happened. Let me put one back in for free”? Lynn didn’t bother to sign up for that waste of money.
My childhood dentist, Paul Schlegel, worked in a one-story building. On his exam-room wall was a sign with a finger pointing to the “painless dentist upstairs.” I always asked to see that dentist, but it never worked.
So I keep looking for a painless tonsillectomy, and it’s working about as well as my childhood dental trips. There are doctors who remove tonsils by laser as in-office, outpatient procedure, but the only one I can find anywhere in Colorado works at Children’s Hospital. And I’ve read that you need a low gag reflex, and if you’ve ever seen me back away from the strep-throat culture swab — well, that’s not me.
I recently read about a tonsillotomy, which doesn’t remove as much tissue, but then I have to find an ENT to discuss this with. At one point I would have been content to hold this conversation with Dr. Merrill, but now that his office has proved — continuously — to be more money-grubbing than helpful, it’s time for me to move on.
As it is for me this morning. It is time for me to try all my home remedies (including an apple, yes) to see if I can’t exorcise all the demons infesting my sinus/throat area before they become prolonged. Like last year. I really, really — really — do not want to go through that again. Really.