Illness and Language


As a Sick Person (and yes, those capitols are intentional), I spend most of my days doing… well, not much. I go to my many doctors, practically every day of the week. I read (when I can concentrate), I watch Netflix (because it at least distracts my brain from thinking about the pain and my health issues), I sleep (when I can), I cry (which is often).

I also think.

Which as we all know, is a super-bad idea. Ha ha.

Anyway, one of the things that has occurred to me, as I’ve filled out what feels like thousands of New Patient Forms for as many doctors, is they all ask you to describe your symptoms using, well, language.

As we all know, language is what allows us to communicate with each other; it allows us to make sense of the world; it allows to share feelings, wants, needs, etc. But language is also part of an agreement we all have with each other. We all (English speakers, anyway) agree that when we say “bird”, we mean an animal-type thing with wings that can go up in the sky.

Language is also contextual. If someone says “bird is the word”, you don’t necessarily think of the animal, but probably some silly ditty that got started I don’t know when. (And I don’t fee like researching it. Sorry.)

When it comes to health, and specifically pain, we are given a list of words (which are flying by in the gif up there that I created, based on the many doctors’ forms I’ve completed) and asked to check off the ones that describe our symptoms.

Obviously, when I see the word “needles” in the list, I don’t immediately think of knitting or sewing, but the imagery is apt – because yes, sometimes I feel as if lots of little sewing needles are stabbing me all at once in various places.

But what if I’ve never used a needle and never experienced what that feels like? Would I know to check off that symptom on the list?

Heck, I’m a really well-read person, and I’ve even read the dictionary, for funsies, and so I pretty much know what all those words mean, but what do they mean for the person reading my list? Is my “pulsing” the same as their “electric”? Or my “electric” the same as their “pins”? My “aching” the same as their “throbbing”? And if it’s not, how does that impact the quality of my healthcare and the way doctors treat my very real pain?

I figured it up yesterday: I spent almost $4,000 last year (2014) trying to get well. On medicine, labwork, doctors, chiropractors. And oddly enough, when it got really, really bad (October), I quit going to doctors. I quit going to my chiropractor. All I could do was sleep, and my teaching job.

Then, after school was out, and I had a bit more energy, I started going to doctors again. This year (2015), I’ve already spent over $5,500 trying to get well. That’s money for medications, and supplements, and bloodwork, and doctors, and MRIs, and X-rays.

If you’d like to read all about my recent doctors visits and health conditions, pop over to my gofundme campaign to read the latest update. (And many, many many thousands of thanks to the people who have thus far donated $1,620 to my pursuit of health. If you’re able to contribute, or share, I will be ever so grateful.)

And for now, all I can say, continue to say, to doctors is: I have aching, burning, constant, cramping, crushing, deep, dull, electric, gnawing, intermittent, itching, knot-like, needles, pinching, pins and needles, pounding, pressing, prickling, pulsing, sharp, shooting, sore, stabbing, stretching, tender, throbbing, tight, tingling, pain, pain, pain, PAIN.

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About dSavannah

~ #disabled #spoonie fighting numerous, chronic, painful #InvisibleIllnesses ~ also #wife #feminist #ally #advocate #papyrophiliac #DogCatTurtleWrangler
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2 Responses to Illness and Language

  1. Betsy says:

    As you know, I am so sorry that you are always in so much pain. I am glad you have finally found dr (or drs) that seem to be on the track of helping you. Keeping you in my prayers. Love ya!

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