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            For a few weeks, recently, my mother was worried about me. Okay, she’s always worried about me, but more worried than usual, because my blood pressure was high. My blood pressure has been relatively high since December, but my primary care doctor wasn’t especially worried, so I ignored it. But then I went to the gastroenterologist, to finally see about my first colonoscopy, he said I’d need an okay from the cardiologist before he could move forward; so I went to the front desk and made an appointment with a cardiologist in the same office, where the wait is approximately an hour and a half and the doctor generally ignores whatever I say.

            But while I was waiting for that appointment to arrive, my blood pressure (measured on a home blood pressure monitor), kept going up and up, especially the bottom number. And Mom said I couldn’t wait for my scheduled appointment and instead made me an appointment with her own cardiologist, for the next morning.

“I could ignore you without all the waiting!”

            I got up early and grumbled as she drove me to the doctor’s office, and then I grumbled through the tech taking my blood pressure four times, twice on each arm, and then through an especially thorough EKG, and then there was an Echocardiogram in another room and blood tests in a lab down the hall. I was exhausted from the whole ordeal, but I had to go to work afterwards, so I grumbled as much as I could at home and then switched into teacher mode on the drive to the synagogue and tried not to grumble for the rest of the day.

“Unsuccessful, Mommy.”

The next day, after tests showed I didn’t have a blood clot or heart damage, the cardiologist prescribed a diuretic and told me to call my gynecologist to see if she could change or just stop my birth control pills (prescribed for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and painful periods), because they could be raising my blood pressure and adding to the risk of blood clots.

            I started the diuretic the next day, and stopped taking the daily birth control pills, and after a week, my blood pressure was back to normal, but I was dizzier than usual, and in more pain and still dealing with all of the other long term issues no one has been able to explain (headaches and dizziness and exhaustion and muscle pain and intermittent walking problems and nausea and belly pain).

            Then I had to go for more blood tests and an echo stress test (which is a beast of a combination, with a treadmill and a thousand wires and a torture device rammed into my rib cage at random intervals), and I was told that my Normetanephrine and Aldosterone numbers were off kilter, both related to the adrenal glands in some way, and a possible cause for the high blood pressure, and I’d need to see an Endocrinologist and a Nephrologist for further testing. No, wait, not an Endocrinologist but a Gastroenterologist, but not the Gastroenterologist doing the colonoscopy…oy. So I had to put off the colonoscopy, which means I’ll have to go for an extra consult closer to the colonoscopy or else the insurance won’t cover it, and then there’s the new Gastroenterologist, who is hopefully the right doctor and not a miscommunication, and then I may still have to go to a Nephrologist, and who knows how many tests and appointments will come from all of that, or if I even have an issue with my adrenal glands, or if it’s at all related to the rest of my symptoms or yet another tangent.

And, yes, I know I have to do all of it, of course. But I’m so tired, and I’m in more pain than I was before, and I still have to teach, and the weather is getting warmer, which makes everything worse, and… I clearly have a whole lot more grumping to do before this is over.

Harrumph.

“Harrumph.”

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

            Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

89 responses »

  1. Oh man what a rollercoaster of medical specialists. So many referrals and so many delays for you. I feel your pain. Good luck!

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  2. Hope you’re feeling better soon 🙂

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  3. Goodness! What an ordeal. I hope your health gets back on an even keel soon.

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  4. Oh, Rachel, having this many health issues is brutal. I’m so sorry you’re having to go through all of this.

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  5. So sorry you are experiencing all of this. I sure wish there was one doctor who really wanted to think of you as a whole person and try to understand what is going on with all your systems. It must feel so frustrating. And exhausting.

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  6. Ugh. I have that echo stress test every year. Yes it is a new, different, and effective torture! You lived through that, you’ll live through anything. I hope you get back to living a comfortable, pain free life soon.

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  7. Having to coordinate with all these doctors would most definitely send my blood pressure sky rocketing! Good luck with it all, Rachel. I think I need to sit down and hug the pups!

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  8. Sorry you’re going through all this. Hope you feel better real soon.

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  9. Oh, my, Rachel! Too many “-ists “ to contend with. I wish you could be a “tour-ist” to a lovely place where you can just relax and recuperate.

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  10. Oh, my goodness, I am so sorry that you are on the medical mystery rollercoaster! I completely understand how frustrating and exhausting it is, with momentary flashes of panic, and it always happens when you are least able to deal with it due to fatigue, pain, and everything else., Hugs! I hope that this gets sorted out soon and that you stabilize and feel better.

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  11. You’re have a rough time Rachel! I hope it gets sorted out soon. Hugs

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  12. These are the times that try our souls – and our bodies, too.
    Health care in our country seems to be a dark web of delays, disappointments, and distress. I feel for you.
    Patience is not always a virtue, is it?

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  13. Jennifer Barraclough

    So unpleasant and frustrating for you. I do hope all these tests lead to some positive answers and treatment options

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  14. Take good care of your health, we are not getting any younger.

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  15. Take care of yourself, Rachel.

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  16. So sorry how this is all playing out for you Rachel. As one who has had 4 colonoscopies in 4 years, that test is not for the faint of heart, so to speak. Your doctors must be sure you are ready for it. Stay well. Allan

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  17. Modern medicine is in danger of being more dangerous than safe. I miss the days when a general practitioner had the wherewithal to competently coordinate all the advice provided by specialists with the patient at the centre of care rather than being dissected with their bits and pieces managed by “specialists”.

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  18. Here’s hoping the array of doctors can come up with answers and solutions for you.

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  19. After many tests, and differing diagnoses, my wife was given a definite diagnosis of Fibromyalgia earlier this year. That finally explained her symptoms. It is something you might want to look into, Rachel.
    https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/fibromyalgia.htm
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  20. Multiple doctors, each with their own agendas is very difficult. Best of luck getting the answers you need.

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  21. I do hope they can sort you out soon. I had a BP test earlier in the month and it was the best in years. However, the GP forgot to write it on my records and they are refusing my BP meds until I go in for BP tests. I have vertigo at the moment and feel too dizzy to risk going there. Oh for the old days with a dedicated GP and home visits.

    Take care and hope all goes well for you.

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  22. I’m so sorry that you are going through all this, Rachel. Feel better soon.

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  23. The combined oral contraceptive can be life changing in a really good way if you have heavy painful periods for whatever reason so stopping them with out a good alternative isn’t great holistic management. In the UK NHS you would not have had all these very expensive consultations and tests. You would have been given blood pressure lowering medications and if a clot risk was considered then a daily baby aspirin.

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    • Interesting. Is that better or worse?

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      • I don’t know! If your health insurance is covering all this and you get a good treatment for your period problems then you should come out of this better than the NHS. If you have to pay up front and don’t get relief from your menstrual problems then of course you will be worse off. The NHS is imploding. It has never offered the level of consultations and testing that you get as a routine and since there is a big doctor shortage both at primary and secondary care level I don’t think we will see such service levels in my lifetime. Also interesting is the very fast turnaround between specialists, in days or weeks. In the UK it is months and years. I had many years of terrible periods so I have some idea of how debilitating and energy sapping they are. The menopause is something you can really look forward to.

  24. Harrumph. And a furrowed brow that you’re in pain and figuring out why or how to help is so hard. May every doctor you see listen and may they be inspired to try the very thing that makes you feel better.

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  25. I’ve never even heard of half of those doctors. I wonder what would happen if you stopped all your meds. (I am NOT suggesting you do this.) I just have 2 friends who have had to be on a lot of meds, and as the doctors got them off them, other problems went away.

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  26. wow how awful for you, your mother and your sweet dogs. They are very aware at what is going on. They will sense your vibes and illness. My hubby brought my dogs to visit me in hospital after 16 weeks away from them it was chaotic love! that blog is called Maggie and Barney very funny. Bless you, keep strong, the sun and the moon appear every day, as you do.

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  27. Sending you bear hugs ─=≡Σ ʕっ•ᴥ•ʔっʕっ•ᴥ•ʔっʕっ•ᴥ•ʔっʕっ•ᴥ•ʔっʕっ•ᴥ•ʔっ

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  28. Rachel, I am so sorry for the tsuris you are going through. Have you considered any alternative providers and medicine? I’m a big believer in acupuncture but insurance generally doesn’t cover it. Meditation can relieve high blood pressure and calm your body. There are also Naturopathic doctors who consider the whole person (otherwise known as the Gansa Megilla):) Regardless, good luck.

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  29. Oh Rachel, what a terrible ordeal. I agree, one Dr to treat the whole would be awesome. I keep praying you get some answers soon. Take care!

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  30. I hope you feel better soon. Take care.

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  31. Probably not relevant to all your other ills, but wrt the hypertension, you might be interested in https://youtu.be/rI-ktNcbi7M.

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  32. Funny, I have to have an echocardiography and stress test this Tuesday. I had to talk them out of doing a nuclear stress test with radioactive isotope because of a weird reaction to such when I had it done once. So hopefully the echo stress test will be better, though your description prepares me for somewhat of an ordeal! Hang in there…

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  33. So sorry to hear about all of this, Rachel. Sending healing thoughts your way.

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  34. My mother was a professional worrier. She should have hired out. You may see even more doctors than my own female significant other. None of her’s talk to each other.

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  35. So sorry to hear this!! Hope it resolves soon! 💕

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  36. I’m sorry you have to go through all this. It sounds annoying and painful. Hopefully you’ll get better and it will all be over.

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  37. It seems you have fallen into the “specialist” rabbit hole. I hope that a solid internal medicine doctor comes alongside you to navigate the insanity.

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  38. These symptoms: headaches and dizziness and exhaustion and muscle pain and intermittent walking problems and nausea and belly pain – sound like thyroid to me, Rachel. I just read the side effects of methimazole which I take for thyroid.
    https://www.drugs.com/mtm/methimazole.html – check out your thyroid next, OK?

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  39. Sounds awful! I hope you get better soon!

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  40. That really sucks. Sending positive thoughts!

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