history and examination

if you tell a layperson, “my back is killing me!” his/her response will probably be, “oh you poor thing! have you seen a doctor?

direct the same statement to someone in the medical field and it is highly likely that you will be greeted with something like “really? where does it hurt? does it radiate anywhere? do you have bowel or urinary incontinence???

it’s funny how studying medicine has caused us to develop a new reflex, one that compels us to take a medical history and proceed with a physical examination (if possible) once someone presents with a complaint.

i have been asked about bowel and urinary incontinence no less than 3 times the moment i mentioned that i have been suffering from radicular pain on my left leg for the last 3 days.

it bodes well for the future of healthcare that my friends are so well trained in asking about the “red flags” associated with back pain, but when i was in greatest agony, the last thing i wanted was to have a history taken from me or a long-distant physical examination performed on me or have a lesson in physiology delivered to me via facebook.

perhaps i am meant to learn about what it means to be a patient in pain, how much of a hassle it is to consult a specialist in a government hospital, and just how important social support and empathy is to someone who is suffering.

i am ever grateful to my housemates for buying me food, sending me to the clinic and running errands for me while i was bed-bound for the last couple of days. i am also thankful for my batchmates who sent me extra pain meds (which i gladly abused…let’s see if i present with epigastric pain and melaena in the next few weeks!), tapau-ed fried rice for me and sacrificed their precious pre-seminar study time to keep me company at the clinic this morning. and to those who prayed for me and sent me messages of comfort, asked me how i was doing…thank you for your thoughts. they mean alot to me.

right now i am back home with a new supply of analgesic medications and a muscle relaxant (with lots of abuse potential, as a friend pointed out) that will hopefully give me enough relief to grant me the sleep i have lost out on for the last 3 nights. i can’t even begin to describe the horrors i’ve had to endure in the dark. i never want to experience that kind of pain ever again.

so once again thank you for your thoughts and prayers, thanks for providing me with practical care. i am pretty optimistic about getting back in action on monday, even if it means being dependent on pain meds for awhile. let’s hope for the best, yea?

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