Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Scarlet B

My name is not Hester Prynne. I don't think Ms. Prynne would be placing a scarlet B on her chest and placing gold threads through it if the following happened to her.

This true event happened to me in the end of June. I'm changing the names, like they do in "Dragnet" to protect the innocent, but also I simply forgot the names of the parades of doctors and nurses I saw.

Regular readers know I had acute renal failure in both kidneys back in November 2010. So this past May I found myself with edema in my feet and legs that were so bad I could not walk. I could not put on shoes. My first thought was kidney failure. Off I went to the kidney doctor for a full work up. Everything seemed to be fine, kidney wise. I was told to cut out all salt from my diet, check with my gynecologist to make sure I wasn't retaining water, and given a script for Lasix, a water pill.

One month later, and my feet, and legs were still elephantine from edema. I waddled off to see the GP. She suggested I go to the hospital for tests. Off I went to the Catttery to board kitty for 3 days. I checked myself into the hospital. I had 14 tests given, from CAT scans to ultrasounds, to tests with Doppler. They checked heart, and for blood clots, and more kidney.

And all the tests were inconclusive.

Here is where it got interesting. I was in the hospital for approx 38 hours. After about 6 hours I noticed something. The nurses and doctors were treating me different. Not as kind, but like I was a child. Not just any child, but a slow child, a child with an IQ say of 60.

All of a sudden, I was no longer, Susan, who was here for cardio and kidney, I was here solely for Bipolar. The cardio and kidney were pushed aside to tertiary status. Every doctor, every doctor, every resident wanted to bring out the DSM and play shrink until a real shrink came in.

All our medical records had been added to a computer about two years back.  Did the doctors, nurses, or residents see that my kidneys failed? No. The first thing the computer was spitting out was a hospitalization from 2003 where I was in the hospital for 5 weeks and received ECT. THAT is what they saw. And that is what they chose to address.An event 10 years ago which had no reference to what was happening to me at the moment, namely, to determine why my edema had been going on for seven weeks rendering it impossible for me to walk, or hold myself up to take a shower.

My mental health issues in the past had as much to do with my current prognosis as it did having my tonisils removed when I was four. Why weren't they dragging that fact out? It was just as salient to me.

No. I have been labeled Bipolar, and this label has bow been with me for more than half my life. It's my Scarlet B. People don't judge me for me, they judge me as someone who is Bipolar. Someone who is less than human. She should be shunned and locked away like they did a century ago. I saw it first hand with the doctors and nurses.

Never mind that I took nursing classes a few years ago when I though about going back to school for a nursing degree. What I saw made me mad. And broke my heart.

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