AMA | What Would I Have Done Differently?

Knowing your symptoms that you had for so long, what would you have done differently knowing what you know now?

… Linda Matthews

Considering that it took the only doctor I had at the time, my psychiatrist who manages my ADHD medications, had to refuse to refill my meds until I identified a primary care physician and have my blood pressure checked, I think it’s safe to say there are several things I would have done differently knowing what I know now.


I think the main thing I should have done was recognize that, like in so many other areas of my life, when it comes to my health knowledge is power. Believe it or not, I had to have my doctor point this out to me after a CT scan halfway through my chemotherapy revealed that I had nodules on my thyroid, a nodule on my right lung, multiple lymph nodes had developed in my abdomen, and my gallbladder was full to the neck with gallstones.

Needless to say, I freaked out.

In going over these findings with Dr. G pointed out that pretty much everyone has these types of things happening in their body at any given time, but don’t have the privilege of knowing until there was an issue. That I was able to know this additional information about myself was a gift giving us the opportunity to establish baselines and know what things I may need to keep an eye on going forward.

As it turns out, I was able to utilize some of this extra knowledge this past July. I woke up at the crack of dawn knowing that something horrible was happening in the upper right quadrant of my abdomen. Ah yes, I thought, my gallbladder is full to the neck with gallstones! A quick Google later and the symptoms I was experiencing tracked with a gallbladder attack. Mind you, I’m still a bit of a wingnut and contacted first a friend, then the gyn-oncology department at UNC Hospitals, and finally my nurse neighbor before I finally accepted that the only way I was going to rid myself of the pain was a trip to the ER. However, once there it did help things along to be able to tell the doctor that I had two scans on file showing stones in my gallbladder, even though he said it took the fun out of his investigation.

Now, the funny thing I learned I should have done differently? Not view medical tests the same way I do skills tests. I didn’t want to go see primary care physician about the concerns my psychiatrist had about my blood pressure because I was afraid I’d fail the tests. Which is lame because, like noted above, you can’t fail in this situation as it is just more knowledge and knowledge is power.BeSilent_bigger

Additional changes include:

  • Not writing off the symptoms I was having as being part of the aging process. Weird rapid weight gain, fatigue, blood pressure issues, lower back pain, indigestion, and heartburn individually *maybe* could have been written off as a fact of life, but combined the way they were and all arriving at the same time should have raised a flag or too. Combined they were symptoms of the mass growing in my abdomen displacing my organs and putting pressure on my arteries.
  • Routine screenings and physicals with primary care physician
  • Be quiet; hear the whisper


Thank you for the question, Linda! Does anyone else have a question for me?

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