The Need For Empathy

I was going to write today about decisions, and how RA affects them, but my mind is stuck on an ‘incident’ from this weekend, so this decision has been made for me by RA! I will return to this theme….

I’m starting to feel that maybe I annoyed a higher power this week, perhaps I should sacrifice a small fish or something!

I had a real scare Saturday morning.  It was methotrexate hangover day so I am now used used to feeling somewhat rubbish, but just before 10am I had what I can only describe as a really bad ‘turn’, and thought I was going to lose consciousness.  I actually thought for a moment this is it.  Out of nowhere I was suddenly cold, my stomach was churning,  I was covered in sweat, my head was spinning and both arms were tingling, I really thought I was going to land on the floor.  I lay flat on my back for about half an hour before I felt able to risk sitting up.  Another half hour and I felt back to ‘normal’, whatever that is!

I phoned our NHS helpline whilst I was lying prone, and after advising what had happened they said because of meds I’m on and recent history they wanted a doc to check me over.  I was relieved!

I then tried calling round friends for a lift,  it’s a bank holiday weekend so no one was here –  cue choruses of “Sorry, I’m in…….. Portsmouth/Cornwall/getting a wax”, you probably couldn’t make it up 🙂

I decided I was steady enough to drive myself by this point.  The duty doctor at the local hospital checked my BP, pulse, temperature etc and everything looked good. He in essence said it sounds like I nearly fainted, and it might be the meds but then again we may never know why!?!
If it happens again I’m to lay down immediately to help blood flow to the upper body, and he said to tell my rheumy so she can make a note of it. 

And that was it, notes recorded, case closed.

Except it wasn’t for me.  What for the doc was almost dismissed as a near faint actually frightened the life out of me.  For a moment there it is not an exaggeration to say it crossed my mind I was dying.  OK, in the cold light of day it seems somewhat ridiculous, but it was how I felt at the time.

Does RA make me more aware of my mortality? Yes, without a doubt.  It’s very difficult not to be when you combine the impact of the disease itself with the side effects of the medication used to treat it, statistically I am likely to die younger than a person without RA, that’s not being gloomy, it’s just the truth. 

However, I suspect anyone going through the experience I had would have been terrified, I have never felt that… Odd. 

What I would have liked would have been a little more reassurance from the doctor before I left . Telling me we don’t know what caused this or if it will happen again may be honest, and I want that, but it’s not reassuring! Just a touch of empathy and a smidge of caring would have gone a long way.

I know I have said this before.  I will very likely say it again and again.  And I don’t think that makes me a demanding patient, it makes me human.


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