Years ago, the electronic card service, JibJab, made funny flash animation videos. They made some pretty awesome politically themed ones starring George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, featuring their shenanigans… wow– that seems so quaint today, as Donald Trump continues to become more unhinged! But they also made a really funny video called “It Sure Does Suck Getting Old”, or something along those lines. Unfortunately, I can’t find any trace of that video anywhere on the Internet. Edited to add… I think I found it! Geezers: The Musical for the win!
I hate it when this happens, because it makes me wonder if I imagined what I clearly remember. Like– I can remember some pretty weird stuff I saw on TV back in the day– commercials and PSAs and stuff like that. I can often find stuff I remember, but sometimes I can’t even find it mentioned anywhere. Then I wonder if maybe I imagined the whole thing.
In any case, I don’t really need to share the video I remember, although it would be nice to see it again. The point is, it was a funny song involving two old guys lamenting getting old and all the unpleasant shit that goes with it. And it’s on my mind today because I’m having abdominal issues again. What makes my problem especially annoying is that I’m having classic gallbladder symptoms, but they’re on my left side instead of the right. Most people have gallbladder pain on the right, but mine is on the left (which can sometimes happen in gallbladder issues).
I don’t have a fever, nor am I in significant pain. It just feels like there’s inflammation in that area and it’s going around to my back. So basically, it feels like a dull, pinching, burning, slightly pressured sensation that occasionally cramps. I’ve had gallbladder attacks since about 2004 or so… or, at least I’m pretty sure that was what they were. They hurt, but never last for long– maybe a few minutes or so. Lately, the issue is more constant. This isn’t like the sharp pain of a gallbladder attack. It feels more like heat and inflammation, coupled with some itching and slight jaundice. I do think the gallbladder is the actual culprit, though.
I haven’t been to a doctor since 2010, and it was because Bill wanted me to get my gallbladder checked. I was having pain then, too. But after the ultrasound, I was blown off, and I’ve never been back since. I hate dealing with doctors with a fiery passion. I’ve written about why quite a few times in this blog, so I won’t go into the specific reason with this post. Suffice to say, I have to be pretty sick before I’ll willingly volunteer to see a medical person, and I have a tendency to put it off for as long as possible.
I can remember when I lived in Armenia, I had strep throat over the weekend. I had a fever of 102 degrees and a really sore throat with pus on my tonsils. I didn’t seek medical attention until Monday morning, because I didn’t want to bother the Peace Corps doctor (who was also once my former landlady). She took one look at my throat and said, “Why didn’t you call me?” I told her I didn’t want to bother her over the weekend. I wasn’t that sick. But also, even if I’d wanted to call her, I don’t think I would have been able to do it. In 1996, it was very difficult to call people on Armenian landline telephones. I could call the United States easier than I could call my school, which was in the same city. I’d try to dial– and I do mean dial, as we had rotary phones– and it would just click without connecting to anything. Nowadays, that’s no longer a problem. Everyone has a cellphone.
I just want to state this, because it’s why I’m suffering instead of dealing with the problem like a normal person would. I know it’s irrational to suffer instead of simply dealing with the problem. I have a bit of a phobia when it comes to doctors, though. It’s not as bad as my mushroom phobia is, but it’s pretty bad. I get very anxious around medical people, if I’m around them for my own healthcare. I don’t mind them in other situations, like when Bill has a colonoscopy, or when I’m working with them in a professional capacity, which, believe it or not, I used to do.
I think another reason why I don’t seek medical care when I need it is because I don’t feel like I deserve it. I dread negative interactions with people, and I so often have them… not just with medical people, but with rank and file people. I have a personality that people tend to love or hate, and I’ve gotten to a point in my life that I don’t want to trouble people with my odd personality. I feel like I’m not very well liked by most people, so I’d rather hide from them. I realize this is probably also an irrational thought on my part, too… In fact, last week, Bill told me that the co-worker we ran into in Czechia said she thought I was a very warm person who laughs easily. Some people do get that impression, because I do laugh a lot, and I can be very warm and friendly. I’ve been told I am a very genuine person. But I’m also pretty weird… blunt, moody, and some people clearly would rather I didn’t exist. Or, at least, that’s my impression. So I try to avoid them, which probably comes off as strange and standoffish, and that perpetuates the problem.
Bill is very sensitive to my anxiety issues. He knows it’s distressing for me so see doctors, and he knows I can be very stubborn about things. He mostly doesn’t insist that I go to doctors, the exception being that one time in 2010. He’s also a very busy guy, and arranging medical care can be complicated when you are an American in Germany with no Hausarzt (family doctor). While I could try to go to Landstuhl (the military hospital), most of my issues with doctors stem from having to go to military doctors when I was growing up, culminating with a horrifying visit with an Air Force OB-GYN who traumatized me. Also, it’s space available for retirees and their family members.
Logically, I know that if I am dealing with gallbladder issues, the problem could be solved with a pretty straightforward outpatient surgery. Even if what I’m dealing with now isn’t a gallbladder issue, I know I do have gallstones, because I’ve had a bunch of attacks over the years; I fit the profile; and my dad had his gallbladder removed. Of course, it could be something else… something much worse, which would also be horrifying for me, because it would probably mean being encouraged to see more medical people. That idea freaks me out, too. The one thing that comforts me is the fact that I can refuse… at least until I keel over somewhere in public. And, even then, if I’m conscious, I can refuse.
If we were in the States, I could deal with this more easily on my own. There would be no language barrier, and I have a lot more familiarity with what to do, especially since I went to graduate school to learn how to deal with people seeking medical care. At home in Virginia, especially when I had Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance, I’d just go see a doc in the box and get a referral somewhere for whatever else is needed. I didn’t enjoy going to doctors then, either, but at least then, the military healthcare service was completely left out of the equation. In the US system, you’re more of a customer.
I don’t go to doctors regularly, so I don’t even really know how to call Tricare for a referral somewhere in Germany. I don’t have any medical records to speak of, really. And I’m here all alone… which really sucks. It sucks to be isolated as much as I am, with no friends or family nearby, and a husband who is constantly on work trips. I do love living in Germany, but at times like this, it would be good to be a civilian in the US… because at least there, I’m not a foreigner. On the plus side, healthcare is much less expensive in Germany.
The good news is, as I’m writing this post, the burning feeling in my chest has subsided a bit. I do feel markedly better now just since starting this post. But I have kind of a foreboding thought that pretty soon, I’m going to have to deal with this problem, one way or another. I really dread it on many levels. It sure does suck getting old, doesn’t it?
Oh well. At least that annoying burning sensation has mostly passed. Now to get on with my guitar practice and dog walking. Maybe today will be a music day, not that anyone cares one way or another.