Thursday, January 3, 2013

The road to Celiac/Serfdom

I was rereading my post about having Celiac Sprue, and I wanted to add something, because the parallels to the paths we as a nation have taken are very similar.

When I was a young child, about 3rd or 4th grade, I was constantly in the nurses office complaining of stomach pains. Someone suggested to my mom that I might be lactose intolerant (I guess these were the days before "tests"), so for 3 years, I had to drink Lactose-free milk. Ever had it? It's gross. And the stomach pains were still constantly happening. So, one day in 7th grade, I said, "fuck this," and started drinking regular milk. The cramps were still there, but they weren't any worse now that I was drinking milk again.

My reaction? "I'm obviously not allergic to milk. So I must be fine!"

In my 9th grade year, my mouth broke out in fever blisters covering my lips and my tongue, swollen and bleeding gums, and difficulty swallowing. The doctor asked if I had been having sexual relations, which I had not (I wouldn't kiss a girl until I was 17), so he prescribed me some antibiotics and told me I'd be fine.

My reaction? "Hooray! I'll be fine!"

A year later, I was rushed to the emergency room with intense stomach pains. They were ready to remove my inflamed-about-to-burst appendix, but they ran an ultrasound first. "Huh. Your appendix is fine. Guess there's nothing wrong with you."

My reaction? "Hooray! There's nothing wrong with me!"

(By now, you may have already guessed where I'm going with this, but there's more.)

When I was about 21, I had more of the crippling stomach cramping. Mind you, the stomach cramps were constant to the point that I figured this is what everyone feels like, and I just might be a giant pussy about pain. "Ulcers? I don't know. Doesn't seem to be anything wrong with you. Cut back on sodas and junk food. You'll be fine."

"Hooray! I'll be fine!"

Finally, after my 28th birthday, I had an experience so painful, so embarrassing, and so utterly horrific, I thought I might actually have contracted the plague. This time, the stomach cramps were accompanied by the scariest thing I've ever experienced: blood. In my stool. Actually, that's quite inaccurate. Blood instead of stool. For three weeks straight. I kid you not, my boxers looked like they belonged to one of Sandusky's victims. There was no stool in my stool, just torrent after torrent of blood.

So I go to the doctor and explain my situation to him, and also mention that my mother had Crone's Disease. So they give me a colonoscopy (which is every bit as fun as you imagine it) to check for Crone's. This is how the conversation about those results went:

Doctor: "Well, the test came back negative for Crone's, so you should be ok."

(After 2 decades of being told that I'm ok, something snapped.)
Me: "Wait. I don't have Crone's, but I am far from fine. I shat blood for three weeks straight."

Dr: "You may have ruptured a hemorrhoid. Just a small amount of blood can turn the whole bowl red."

Me: "... Have you ever seen the exorcist?"
Dr: "..."
Me: "This wasn't a few drops. It was gushing."

Dr. "It might be irritable bowel syndrome, but honestly, that's just what doctors call stomach pain they can't explain."

Me: "Would IBS cause a 20 pound weight drop in two weeks?"
Dr: "I, uh, don't, uh, think..."
Me: "At this point, I don't care. Tell me I have cancer. Tell me I have aids. Just please, tell me what the hell is wrong with me."

Dr: "... You might be allergic to gluten."

Me: "Seriously? Gluten? Well, if you think it's a possibility, run the tests. Gluten? Really?"

Well, turns out he was right. But I never would have known it if I didn't demand to know what was wrong with me.

Likewise, for decades, politicians in Washington have kept telling us, "don't worry. You'll be fine." And for decades we said, "Hooray! We're gonna be fine!" Instead of getting a second opinion on our daily discomforts, we fell into complacency.

And once we did get that second opinion, oddly enough from an actual doctor, we called him a quack. We derided his common sense approach, his spot on diagnoses, and we ridiculed his prescription. We opted for a new-age cure of potions and ales brought to us by the most cunning of snake-oil salesmen, Barack Obama.

Now our condition is terminal. The doctor who could have helped us has retired. The cure we sought rendered us weak. How anyone can look at the constant stomach cramping, the weight loss, the fucking blood in the toilet and say, "Hooray! I'm going to be fine!" should strike anyone as crazy, but I get it. We don't want to hear the bad news.

But stage one cancer is much easier to fight than stage 4. Getting the bad news at stage one could've helped. Admitting that there is bad news when the tumor is inoperable doesn't help much at all.

That's why I'm suggesting the Cloward-Piven approach. We are past the point of saving this country. Take advantage of them. You and I know we would do just fine without the government's handouts, but if they're handing out your money, might as well try to grab some of it back.

I hope this metaphor worked for ya. It made sense to me.

*the reason I bolded that part about IBS was that it was the most honest thing I've ever heard a doctor say.*

1 comment:

  1. "I hope this metaphor worked for ya."

    It does; it's true.