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Support OCD Awareness Week

Note to readers: A brief definition of OCD and how you can help.

OCD is a mental health condition in which a person experiences unwanted repeated thoughts and fears, (obsessions) such as contamination, fear of dirt, blood, bugs etc. Causing harm to someone or to themselves is very common. People affected by OCD engage in behaviors or mental acts, (compulsions), such as checking doors that they are locked and stoves that they are turned off. They may also have difficulty making or will avoid making decisions that benefit them and often seek out reassurance for these decisions, from family members, friends, teachers, doctors etc. These compulsive behaviors can be effective in reducing and eliminating feelings of stress and distress from the obsession/s, but relief is only temporary and can in fact exacerbate the problem.

OCD Awareness Week this year is October 13th-19th. If you know someone who may be struggling with symptoms of OCD, please reach out to them and show your support!

A Forty Percent Chance: Maybe More

Part Two

Last November I went to see my doctor seeking answers and a resolution to a problem, but in the weeks that followed I found myself becoming mired in questions, drifting further and further away from resolving a problem. Excessive bloating, abdominal discomfort and missing my period for six months is what finally convinced me to go see the gynecologist. My delay in seeking treatment was not lost on the doctor. She said, “I’m glad you finally came back.”

I wasn’t glad though. Not when the lab technician stuck me in both arms multiple times before locating a vein. Nor was I glad when the lab results came back a week later warranting more testing. I also wasn’t glad that I had come back when she sent me for an ultrasound, that lasted an hour and the first half hour required laying on my side slathered in warm jelly being palpated with a full bladder. And I certainly wasn’t glad following the ultrasound, to be back in my doctor’s office undergoing a vaginal biopsy, wailing in pain, my skin color turned ashen, cheeks damp with tears.

The first week of December I retrieved a missed call from my doctor. Her voicemail said it wasn’t urgent, but requested I contact her office to discuss the results of the biopsy. Rather than returning the call, getting questions answered and working towards resolving a problem I let my intrusive thoughts take control of the situation.

What if it’s menopause? What if it’s not menopause? What if she says I need treatment? What if the treatment makes me feel worse and I get sicker? What if her diagnosis is wrong and it turns out I never needed treatment in the first place? What if now I’m suffering from symptoms completely unrelated to the diagnosis and am forced to undergo treatment for that as well?

In her final voicemail, just before the holidays, my doctor said that since she had been unable to reach me by phone she would e mail me the results through the patient portal. If I had questions I could always send an e mail or call the office. If I had questions! Was she kidding?

The biopsy showed that I had fragments of uterine polyps and something called simple hyperplasia, which my doctor explained in her email was not dangerous if it was treated. Since she wasn’t currently performing surgery, my doctor recommended I see her colleague at the practice for a consultation. Her colleague was in my doctor’s words, ‘the best’! I was skeptical. She also said she’d be more than happy to forward my information to the surgeon’s assistant so they could contact me and set up an appointment for the consultation. If I wanted her to forward the information to them, I should let her know.

Sure, I wrote back that would be great. Then proceeded to type out a series of questions. What’s the treatment? How long would I need to be on medication? Are there any alternatives to treatment? How soon would I need surgery? Is it an inpatient or outpatient procedure? Would I need to take time off from work? Will my insurance cover the costs? What happens if I don’t have the surgery? Could the polyps go away? Will they get bigger?

These were all questions, she tapped back that I would need to discuss during the consultation. Her abrupt tone stung. I guess that’s it I thought to myself. I’m sure she’ll be glad to resume communications at the time of our next routine exam, that is of course when I finally decide to come back.

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