I don’t go to my GP very often, about once or twice a year, and it’s usually for physical health problems. Some people who have chronic mental illnesses have regular appointments with their GP about their mental health. My CPN has asked me a few times over the years “when are you next seeing your GP?” as if I was going to regular appointments so I wonder if it’s expected. My GP hasn’t suggested it to me and I’ve not asked him.
I’m kind of ambivalent about having regular appointments. I think it could be useful for my GP to know what was going on with me and keep track of things assuming he wants to do that. Also assuming the GP and the psychiatry services aren’t communicating well already. But it’s not like the GP is going to be changing any of my treatment. The whole point of going to a specialist, a psychiatrist for me, is to have them take over the specialised care of more complicated or long-term illnesses even though the GP is still required to keep co-ordinating the different parts of the care or at least make sure co-ordination is happening. I’m happy with the co-ordination that is going on and while I might be missing some of the subtleties that are happening, it makes no difference to what actually happens to me as far as I am concerned. Some people will want to be more involved and know exactly who, what and when. That was me ten years ago but not anymore. I don’t know if it would be useful for me to have regular appointments with my GP just to talk about my mental illness. I’m crap at talking about it so maybe more practice would be a good idea but would ten minutes once a month or whatever actually make any difference? I suppose it would be another excuse to get me out of the house which I could do with. These reasons are the ones I’ve thought about whenever the idea of regular appointments with my GP has come into my head, which isn’t often.
About a week ago, the backs of my thighs started getting sore (bear with me, I have a point… in four paragraph’s time) as if the muscles or something were too tight. It got worse so by Friday I couldn’t sit for more than a couple of minutes without having to get up. Fuck me, I never realised how much I took for granted being able to sit on a toilet seat. The pain was from my ankles right up into my bum in both legs. It wasn’t continuous and it moved up and down over hours. When I was lying down or walking, it felt like cramp or tightness with some throbbing and prickling or spiky feeling. If I walked more than about half an hour it got more and more painful and my legs started to feel weak. When I was standing still or sitting down, it felt as if a pole about an inch thick was being pushed into the backs of my legs. It would throb and get sharp pains so that I felt like I had to move or lie down. It felt painful whenever something even softly pressed into my legs. This was all only at the backs or slightly to the sides of my thighs and calves. When I looked in the mirror, there was a little bit of varicose veining in my right calf but none anywhere else. But I could see the raised, swollen ‘poles’ that were around veins I think. There seemed to be blue-ish lines anyway. The swollen bits were a good bit thicker than the veins and mostly I couldn’t see the actual vein. The swellings felt hot and springy.
So I asked Drs Google and Wikipedia who seemed pretty confident that it was phlebitis (not thrombophlebitis) and not anything dangerous like a DVT or whatever. I was thinking that since it was happening on both legs and from ankle to arse that it might be something systemic rather than a local problem. Meaning I might be able to palm it off on my medication! But to be serious for a split second, a medication side-effect made sense since the symptoms were so wide-spread.
I saw my CPN two days ago and I asked her to look at my legs and she didn’t see varicose veins other than the one little bit and could see the new swelling of whatever the fuck was happening. I said I thought it was phlebitis. She said perhaps I was right but perhaps Drs Google and Wikipedia wouldn’t mind if I saw a real doctor and perhaps I should go to my GP. I’d need a definite diagnosis to find out if it was a medication side-effect for a start. She also got hold of my psychiatrist who said he didn’t think it sounded like any of my medication was to blame but that I should go to the GP as I might need antibiotics. Drs Google and Wikipedia hadn’t mentioned antibiotics.
Of-fucking-course by the time I’d actually got to the GPs yesterday my legs were a lot better and there wasn’t much pain or swelling left by the time I saw the locum. She said it was definitely not anything serious and wasn’t sciatica, thrombophlebitis or DVT but it might be myalgia from the risperidone. It’s going away and as long as it goes away completely then I think that’ll be the end of it.
This is a very long story to say that it was actually really upsetting for me to go to my GP even though I was almost certain she’d say I didn’t have anything serious and that whatever it was would go away by itself. I didn’t want to go and made a lot of excuses to myself when this first started. I got pretty frightened at one point thinking that perhaps whatever it was that was happening might be permanent and that I would be stuck with it. I felt ashamed at the thought that maybe I’d damaged my body permanently. I felt better once I convinced myself it was only phlebitis but I shouldn’t have done that because I’m not a doctor and can’t diagnose myself. I even wondered if perhaps I had a DVT and if I’d been thinking that then I should have phoned the emergency GP or whatever it is you do then. I would have had to ask Dr Google again. This is all because I keep thinking of what will happen if the doctor starts tearing me a new one because I am fat. This isn’t some irrational fear: I’ve had doctors and nurses be horrible to me about being fat. Once I went to the nurse at my GP surgery to get my blood pressure checked (it has been high on and off ever since I had the problems with venlafaxine) and she did that but insisted on weighing me even though I said I didn’t want to be weighed. She was very disapproving and plain fucking horrible and I came out of that appointment wanting to take a machete to my body and cut the fat off it. That lasted for weeks and even made me think that I should let my eating disorder back into my life so that at least I could lose weight. It’s not just the horrible things that doctors and nurses can say that worries me, it is that I will cry. And cry and cry and cry and not be able to stop. Humiliate myself even further. So when I think about all that, going to a doctor seems a big risk and more of a risk than maybe having a DVT or having something seriously wrong.
This locum GP was really nice to me and didn’t once mention my weight or say anything at all about my size. I think if I’d been thin she wouldn’t have said or done anything differently. I probably wouldn’t have been in tears twice because I was so overwhelmed and freaked out about her even looking at me though. Reading fat acceptance blogs, tumblrs, etc, has been great for me in a lot of ways but I think it’s made me even more anxious about what might happen because I’ve heard so many bad things that have happened to people just like me. If I hadn’t read those stories then I’d feel a lot worse about what had happened to me I suppose. So maybe I should try to go and see my GP more often so I don’t get so anxious when I have to see him (or a locum) for something important. Haha, just read that back and realised I’m not counting my mental illness problems as important.
I’ve got an appointment with the crisis team nurse tomorrow and I think she’ll discharge me. It’s the third time I’ve had the crisis team this year. Or the fourth, I can’t remember. The last two times have been really helpful and I’ve felt the difference. But I can also feel myself starting to feel dependant on the nurse visits and worrying that I won’t be okay without them. I’m not attached to any of the nurses in particular, though the last two have been great, but it’s more the idea of “it’s okay that I feel so bad now because I can hold out for another three or four days or whatever until the next appointment”. That seems a bad path to be on. Most of me wants to be fucking free of all this and I can’t be until I’m okay enough on my own, or at least on my own most of the time. I’ve also just acquired a social worker somehow (I thought it was a one-off visit to do an assessment [personalisation?] to see if I ‘officially’ needed more support but she’s saying she’ll see me again, don’t feel like I can say anything about it) who has referred me to another support service. So that’s even more. I’m too proud as well. I don’t want to see myself as some kind of complete loser who has an empty life but I know my life is pretty empty compared to most people and it’s not like I like my life at all. I don’t want all this. I don’t want to be ill. I want to be free.