Dig Baton Rouge

East of the River

By Katie East

Recently, I’ve learned a lesson in patience, a quality I would never before describe myself as having. As someone who has a good amount of stress and anxiety, having patience means having to keep those other two things at bay. As much as I know I need to working on my willingness to wait, I’ve recently noticed impatience can also be a virtue.

We live in a time where no one listens anymore. We’re constantly bombarded with outside stimuli: our phones beep at us, our cars talk to us and our news stations are covered with enough words and videos to give the average person a stroke.  Today, whoever yells the loudest gets the most attention.

I’ve learned that sometimes you have to annoy people to get what you want, especially when it comes to dealing with medical professionals. As a young person with a history of cancer and a long list of other various illnesses, it’s important I monitor my health over the years; that’s easier said than done.

Luckily this year I got a great affordable plan on the marketplace.  I reached my deductible already and am getting years’ worth of tests I’ve been putting off done. Good news, the scar tissue in the front of my brain I was supposed to check up on five years ago hasn’t changed. That means I just have regular old brain damage and not a tumor!

Side note: Apparently, frontal lobe brain trauma can affect your spontaneity, impulse control, judgment, social and sexual behavior. Oopsie! I’m not one to make an excuse for my actions, but now I have one. Thanks Obamacare! That free MRI will be a great defense if I’m ever tried on some sort of criminal charges.

After a couple appointments and some finagling of referrals to get my abby-normal brain looked at, it was time to get the rest of me checked out. I waited about a month to see my old oncologist so he could order a full-body scan.

You’d be surprised how hard you have to work to convince a cancer doctor to make sure you don’t have cancer. You’d think that was standard procedure. Instead, I was greeted with: “What are you doing here?” It didn’t seem like a CAT Scan was in my future.

When dealing with doctors, bankers or customer service representatives I’ve learned to never take no for an answer. Sure, if I was patient I’d let things alone and hopefully they would resolve themselves naturally. But I’ve paid too many unnecessary banking fees and incorrect hospital bills to know that to be true. You’ve got to be that person that bitches and demands to get their way.

I’ve come up with a go-to excuse in these cases: “My Mom said so.” For some reason if, you ask a doctor for a procedure or a prescription and say your Mom told you to ask, you’ll usually get what you need. I don’t know if it makes the doctor stop and actually think of you as a person or if everyone is just scared of Moms. Either way, a mention of my omnipotent mother and I was scheduled for a CAT Scan a week later.

As casual as my doctor was when he delivered the news, I knew I had to persevere. Apparently, he found some sort of unknown, probably non-cancerous tumor on my liver. He said if I was worried, I could get an ultrasound in a year. Worried? No. Impatient? Yes.

With no guidance from my doctor, I hit up Wikipedia to figure out his nonchalant diagnosis. Eventually, I found a gastroenterologist and another three weeks later, I had an appointment with him as well. Though he was apathetic at first too, he later called me to say, “Don’t freak out,” and suggest I to see a liver surgeon.

And just two more weeks after that I had another appointment. My persistence was paying off. After two hours of waiting in the surgeon’s office, he delivered me the unfortunate news I had been waiting months to hear: “It’s bigger than originally suspected and it probably has to come out.”

And of course, the first MRI I could get was three weeks away. My perseverance couldn’t get me an earlier appointment no matter how many times I called. Now months after this whole process began, I sit and wait, not knowing if I’ll have to halt my life to have major surgery.

When it comes to your personal well being ­– whether it be financially, emotionally or physically – you have to fight. Being impatient and not taking no for answer can change or even save your life. Once you realize you no longer have control though, you have to remember the virtue in patience.

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