January 11, 2006

Six points for Dr. Bruce

The reception area of Dr. Unknown is shabby: carpet worn through, paint chipped and filthy. A sign requests my patience during a time of building-wide renovation.

BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM. RAT A TAT A TAT A TAT A TAT. BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM.

Along with my other symptoms, I now have a headache. Wait, didn't I already have a headache? Yes, yes I did.

I've arrived early in anticipation of filling out numerous forms. There is only one, with four lines, plus a privacy disclosure.

BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM. RAT A TAT A TAT A TAT A TAT. BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM.

Dr. Unknown's receptionists, an ethnically diverse triad of chattiness, are discussing the romantic misfortunes of one of their group. "What you need to do," one advises, "is get your OWN apartment, your OWN condo, and tell him to..."

BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM. RAT A TAT A TAT A TAT A TAT. BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM.

The triad is interrupted not only by the hammering above but by a male voice. They address the speaker as Bruce.

Bruce, I recall, is the first name of Dr. Unknown. Hmm. First-name basis with the desk staff? Chalk up one for him. And for the triad, for that matter.

I wait a while longer. Dr. Bruce personally fetches the patient ahead of me. And then he fetches me. "Ms. Violet?" he inquires and shakes my hand.

Another point for Dr. Bruce.

We go to his office, a crowded but neat room featuring pictures of his family, a teddy bear, various physicians manuals, a Monet print, a book about Tibetan healing, and a volume of Margaret Bourke-White's photographs.

We talk for a long time about why I'm there. He asks questions and takes notes. He doesn't rush me. My history raises no eyebrows: he is familiar with an adult getting type 1 diabetes, he understands my obscure gynecological problems, and he seems to know insulin pumps, too. I grudgingly award him another point.

He suggests that there may be various explanations for my symptoms, not only fibromyalgia, and that we will keep open minds for the time being.

Then there is an exam. Dr. Bruce takes my blood pressure himself. Is his nurse absent? Or is he just incredibly self-sufficient? I've never seen a doctor do the "nurse" stuff. He seems very natural about it. Okay, one more point.

Dr. Bruce: 4. Anti-Dr. Bruce: 0.

After the exam, we return to his office and talk further. He explains that fibromyalgia is not a hasty diagnosis. First we must rule out other possibilities, of which there are many. He will do scads of bloodwork to this end. I shouldn't be frightened, but one of things he'll check for is lupus. He doesn't think I have lupus, but as it's an autoimmune disease that can cause symptoms like mine, he would be remiss in not checking. But he really thinks I have a virus, something that will go away as I heal over the next few weeks. Many viruses, he says, can cause muscle and joint pain and terrible fatigue. One is parvovirus, which usually strikes kids, but in adults can cause symptoms much like mine. The bloodwork might tell us, or might not. Time will also tell us a lot. If I still feel this way in 6 months, he will be more inclined to consider fibromyalgia.

I'm cranky. He's making sense. But I'm supposed to sit around and feel like crap until he decides I've been sick long enough to be diagnosed? I am on the verge of subtracting a point.

"Of course," Dr. Bruce continues, "what you probably want is to feel better right away. We can address that."

Oh.

Dr. Bruce prescribes a muscle relaxant for bedtime, which will help me fall sleep and should assist with the problem of pain awakening me. I will also take an anti-inflammatory twice a day for pain. There's one that's prescribed more often than the one he's giving me, he says, but it can affect blood sugar, so we don't want to use it.

Two more points.

I am to call next week and report on how I feel. He'll tell me about the bloodwork and we'll decide what to do next. Unless something of concern shows up, in which case he will call me first.

I fill my prescriptions, return home, and google parvovirus. Hmm. Could be. Not sure. Meanwhile, the drugs do help. I had less pain last night. It was hard to fall asleep, but once I did I slept almost all the way through the night for the first time in weeks. This morning I'm feeling pretty good, some small pains but not much. A huge improvement.

Woo hoo. Woo hoo hoo!

15 comments:

  1. Wow wow wow! Congratulations on finding this doctor! And a good nights sleep.

    tek

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  2. Yay Dr. Bruce! I'm glad you are getting some relief, especially if a diagnosis is going to take a while.

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  3. Waahoooooooo! Wow, sounds like a keeper of a doctor. That's so rare these days.

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  4. Best primary care physician I ever had, and my husband saw too, did his own blood pressure. He didn't trust the nurse and wanted the extra time with the patient.

    He ferreted out some serious issues of mine, didn't hestitate to send me to specialist.

    Plus, he was the one that said to my husband -- it probably isn't broken, but let's xray just in case.

    It was broken.

    I miss him, he retired.

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  5. Yay, Violet. So glad that you found what sounds like a great doc -- and so glad you're getting a lasso on whatever beast is causing these issues! Nicole

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  6. Glad you found this Dr. There aren't many like him. I hope he finds your problem and a way to fix it soon.

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  7. Thanks, all of you. He seems like a rare creature indeed.

    Tonight I'm blogging late not because of insomnia, but because I have a smidgen of energy. Wowee!

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  8. I'm glad he's not blowing off your symptoms and telling you it's a virus with no further testing.

    My Dr. does crap like that. I tell her my symptoms and she just shrugs and says it's probably nothing. (I'll switch Drs eventually).

    Good for Dr. Bruce. I hope he gets to the bottom of what's ailing you. I hope you feel better real soon :)

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  9. To echo others here-- Dr. Bruce is most definitely a keeper.

    (Must admit that when I read your previous post I had the same reaction as Shannon's -- thought you might be pregnant. The symptoms you described are classic, but they could also be many other things, including stree. I mean, stress.)

    I'm just really glad you're feeling better.

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  10. CLONE DR. BRUCE :-). So glad you found a doctor who not only listened, but probed to get more information. Looking forward to more good news.

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  11. how are you feeling, a whole week later?

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  12. HEY VIOLET!!!!!! Don't you have anything to write about? We miss you!

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  13. yeah, how are you doing?

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  14. Hello Violet.....I also am in New York City. Do you have the Doctor's #. Although, his office staff sound like idiots.
    Thanks.

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