Tomorrow, I will have surgery to correct the placement of the defibrillator implanted in May. Hopefully, it will be the climax to seven months of intermittent pain and lack of sleep. It almost didn’t happen.
Even though I am an educated woman, with a doctorate in Sociology, and I have taught that women are sometimes not listened to by doctors as much as men are, I still rarely question my doctors, at least not as much as Douglas will do. I was raised to never question doctors or anyone in authority positions, especially as a black female.
Yet, I also know that, in the case of heart conditions, women don’t receive the same level of care as men, particularly in cases of the different tests and treatments. Too often, women are seen as emotional and neurotic, not as individuals who know their bodies and when something is out of kilter with it.
When I told the doctor who implanted the device how much pain I still experienced and that the device seemed to move when it shouldn’t move at all. He told me that it would take a few months, but eventually everything would be alright. He seemed bored and offended by my asking about it. So, I let it go.
Because we were moving to Georgia, I knew that I would have new doctors soon, anyway. But, over the months, even when I felt that I needed to address the issue, I stayed silent, not wanting to speak to the new cardiologist about it, feeling kind of stupid to bring it up. I reasoned that enough time had not passed and maybe I was being impatient.
But, lately the site hurt a lot by night, and I couldn’t snuggle up to Douglas in bed because when I turned on my right side towards him, the device seemed about to come through my chest. If I turned left towards the wall, my preferred way to sleep, the device would push against my chest, and sleep was interrupted by acute pains. I tried to sleep on my back, and it just didn’t happen.
Finally, I hit my threshold of patience and pain. I called the cardiologist’s office, and they had me come that day to see one of the nurses. The moment she saw the inflammation and coloring around the site, she whipped out her telephone and took a picture, and she started looking through the doctor pool to find a doctor to see me. The next day, I was back to see my cardiologist.
After an examination, he decided that the device had to be re-positioned to stop its unusual movement. I learned from the cardiologist who will do the surgery tomorrow that the device is not meant to move. It was implanted sideways, instead of straight up and down, as normal. Also, scar tissue wasn’t removed that would make the device more stable, so that will have to be corrected tomorrow, as well.
So, I thank God that I finally listened to my body and sought help. I knew something wasn’t right, but, even with Douglas admonishing me to be my own advocate and insist on something being done, I hesitated, not wanting to upset the doctor who implanted the device or make the new cardiologist think me a hypochondriac.
But, we must remember that if we don’t speak up for ourselves, often no one will. If you can’t speak for yourself, then appoint someone to speak for you, whether it’s a spouse, sibling, friend, or adult child. Don’t ignore your body’s warnings that something is seriously wrong.
I solicit your prayers, for James 5:16 states that the prayers of the righteous person are powerful and effective. I am a little scared, but I believe the words of 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he [God Almighty] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, and my power is made perfect in weakness.” Through faith, I believe it! I will post again in a few days, letting you know that I am fine. Thanks in advance for your prayers and thoughts. Happy holidays, gang!