Asking The Right Questions

The question of "asking a question" came to fore today, with my visit to the neuro-specialist at Changi Hospital, for which I had frankly no clue why I had to do so again, But that is moot, as I felt this is one of those fruitful consultations that are very few and far in between.

(FYI: Post-Stroke, I have irregular clinical visits, to a variety of medical needs, in addition to my weekly rehabs and acupunture. Mostly subsidized by the government and medisave etc - but all need consultation fees to be paid).

I am very candid with my condition, in fact very candid and am very open to express - within my own limited vocabulary and knowledge of what is happening to me specifically - with doctors. Not everyone is open to listening, as much as folks might say "we do not know how you are feeling if you do not tell us in the first place". Some literally are, and I leave my health and well-being in their hands. Some do not give two hoots what I say (or I feel so anyways), until I have to raise my voice for myself to be heard. I understand it might not mean they do not care, just that they do not care to listen, beyond what they think is right or wrong. This infuriates me to no end.

I do not like to raise my voice. I do not feel I have to raise my voice at all. I am recovering from a sickness I am in mortal fear of, and am not asking for freebies in a departmental store sale. As much as I used to give them reasons for their attitude (like treating too many patients a day blahblahblah), it still does not make me feel any better. And as much as I do not demand "service" per se ("sorry but the salmon is burnt" lol), I can only hope for some semblance of apathy, particularly in a medical locale. But hey, I know I am being naive, and everyone has their own days to handle blahblahblah but I do not give two hoots now. I am not the caretaker of your day, but unfortunately my health and future state of wellness, is in YOUR hands.

Does anyone know how utterly helpless that feels?

Knowing what "questions" to ask of your caretaker, is only limited to what questions you know to ask about your condition. Most folks ask about how to get "the cure", while caretakers explain to you "how you got it" in the first place. For sure, steps to wellness and recovery are explained for the patient - but what if the patient does not know how to articulate his/her own condition?

Are YOU willing to listen, and make an informed decision? And gauge against YOUR vast experience in the sickness? Or are you tired of listening to the same old same old?

Do YOU know how to describe the condition you are in? The feeling you feel when you are doing certain things? And I DO NOT mean medical terms or fancy-medicology, but simple events that affects your body, and how you react to the world?

Know that amongst all the questions asked, inevitably there will ALWAYS been a comparison between "before" or "after". And sometimes is is as clear as day-n-night, and sometimes it is something that never was noticed "before".

I personally have taken my "pre-Stroke" life for granted. And a lot of comparisons fail to have answers, simply because I have zero recollection of them. Some people might not like to hear that. But at the risk of being berated for that, do not IN ANY CASE, LIE about anything, just to get the "uncomfortable" situation over and done with. Try to describe as close as possible as you feel ails you. Be grateful if someone around or the doctor offers his/her take.

Your assessment of your condition, is also determined by the condition you are feeling then, that is being described to the doctor personally.

I have a medical file (as everyone warded has/have), and my "entire" medical life since being warded for Stroke in October 2010 - is in that file (two files actually, Volumes 1 & 2 - found out today ;p). And whomever you are consulting in, that is NOT your "regular" doctor, refers to the file, and have to trust in the doctors before them, who updates your condition, in the exact same files. Hell, even if she/he IS your "regular" doctor, they do not necessarily have your medical-history at the tips of their fingers, as they see a myriad of people, within the one or two months span in which they see you personally!

So whatever condition you feel, do describe it to whomever consults with you, so as your condition may be tracked, and diagnosed, so that medication or new treatments can be prescribed. There's nothing to be "shy" about, YOU are the person that is "sick" anyways!

Today's visit to the neurologist turned out to be a well surprise, if not slightly "shocking". I found out today, what I had experienced in October, might actually be my "second Stroke". 6 months after my experience, and NOW I found this out? And how did I know about it? It was written - nay - typed in my medical file, of the initial assessment of my condition.

First of all, let me explain something - one of my primary fears now, is not just the recovery of my body and eye-sight, but also to stem the occurrence of a second Stroke. Folks who have experienced the "first", will more likely to be susceptible to being in Stroke for the second time, whenever. So post-Stroke, all anyone can ever do, is to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and have high-blood pressure and diabetes etc, in check.

There is NO CURE for Stroke. There is no pill to take to make it all go away. The pills and medication is to keep it at bay, and to sustain a life without falling victim to the earlier maladies (like highblood, diabetes etc). They are there to sustain your life, not "cure" it from Stroke.

So when the doctor showed me the file (well cool of her to anyways - lol) and what had been diagnosed much earlier, pretty much freaked me out there and then. But that was quickly put into perspective and ease, by the same doctor.

The "first Stroke" I might have experienced before (in a undetermined time), might have been an overt one, and unrecognizable by myself - and I carried on with my life, without ever knowing it had ever happened! *gasp*

(Seems to be a very common occurrence, particularly in Chinese folks - an accumulation of mini-Strokes leading to the "big" one, while conversely on a Caucasian person, just goes straight into a "big" one).

Thinking back, I had related to my family that there were times my hand (right-hand) would suddenly "freeze-up", with my fingers unable to move, for about 2-seconds or slightly more (at different times) before I could shake it off. But because nothing much continued happening afters, I never gave it much thought.

There was even once, in the Army (Reservist) nearly a decade ago, when being consulted for an annual body-checkout, I had related I once (but only once) smelt "sulphur" at home (when there wasn't any around) - to which one medical assistant memorably said to me point-blank: "You have Stroke."

I thought he was being an insensitive idiot then.

The "second Stroke" I had experienced, was the one I was hospitalized for. That was an "Acute Stroke" - though a "mild" one at that (I am no longer as angry about that association, as I am grateful to be able to shower myself, yo! LOL).

But no, there is not a tangible explanation for whatever happened then, and none being offered now. I just know that I have to take care of myself moreso than I had ever expected.

I look around my weekly rehab space, and I fear for a lot of much older patients. Do they know how to describe what it is they are feeling? Is anyone ever listening to them? I do not take them all as ignorant oldies or mentally challenged,and maybe I am being overly-sensititve - but who really knows? The chinese say "jia-jia you-ben nan-nian de-jing" (every household has a different sutra to be read) and everyone's stories might be different - just hope that folks get to say what they feel like, and there are folks actually listening to them.

My neuro-doctor said today: "We depend on your feedback and description, so we can diagnose you" ~ which is very refreshing to hear (ironically not something I am used to hearing from medical professionals, surprisingly so) - for which my frank answer was; "I only wish there was more I could be able to describe to you, so that you will understand my condition better" (or something to that derivation ;p). There really is no particular "answer" for that really.


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