My thoughts today are about my own personal struggle when it comes to assessing my health problems.
Now, before the cascade of Sjogren's symptoms hit me this past Spring, I was the consummate-doctor-avoider. I hadn't had a mamo or gynecological check-up in ten years. . . had never dared to submit to the horrors of a colonoscopy even though my father contracted colon cancer at age 54 . . . and switched dentists every two years because I always was ashamed that I hadn't followed up with the last one. I suffered from fear of the doctor in a BIG way and my anxiety regarding doctor's offices totally outweighed my innate sense of responsibility. The only responsible thing I did was to visit my primary care physician (when they refused to refill prescriptions) to get my hypertension, cholesterol, and Xanax scripts renewed - the last of, without which, I couldn't even dream of entering a doctor's office.
The other responsible thing I did way back in 2010 was ask my primary to run an ANA on me because my daughters all struggled with rheumatological and autoimmune issues. Of course it was positive. I then visited a rheumatologist who did a full lupus panel and found the Sjogren's antibody. But because I didn't feel I had the symptoms (and the nurse who insisted on weighing me was the neighbor of another woman I knew and - in my paranoia - could just image her whispering my over-weight over her back fence. . . ) well, I never returned and didn't get treatment.
Until it hit.
And hit with a vengeance after I had the flu this past Spring.
So in the past four months I have seen more "ologists" than I ever envisioned seeing in an entire lifetime. And - after a visit to the ER this past weekend which the old me would have put off until the symptoms went away or killed me - I'm wondering how this new me. . . this Sjogren's me. . . can find a happy medium.
If I get a headache now, the new me tends to think. . . this d**#*d disease has given me a headache!, when the old me would have taken a couple of advil and not given it much thought. The Sjogren's me experiences a fever and assumes it's yet-another complication, but perhaps it's not! Do I call the doctor when I wake up and can't move my fingers?
And perhaps (pardon my french here) diarrhea is just crappy no matter when - and how - you get it. . . .
Am I making the mistake of viewing my entire life through this new Sjogren's lens? Have I gone to some kind of extreme and can't see the forest through the trees?
How do others handle this distinction?
How do you know which doctor to consult? When a symptom is urgent? When it's nothing to worry about?
And how do you know which lens to look through?
Just wondering. . .