Today was my Social Security physical exam. I was up way too early and so heavily caffeinated that my blood pressure soared into the 160s, and on top of it I was nervous. Not because of the physical itself—I’ve had three of them since my hospital stay—but because I was afraid the doctor would be gruff and accuse me of malingering. This exam may very well make the difference between being approved or denied…..I figured it would be tough and possibly traumatic.
I needn’t have worried. The doctor was maybe 30, easy on the eyes, and very nice. As he put me through my paces, he didn’t make me do anything that hurt or that I knew I couldn’t do. I did the best I could at what I was asked to do—no faking pain when there was none, no exaggerating it when range of motion tests did hurt. I have no idea what his determination will be, but the honest truth is, I really can’t do very much. Between my back pain and all the joints with arthritis, any sort of physical labor is out, and of course we all know what my mental illness has done to my ability to handle professional-level work.
However…..I’ve begun to doubt the actual seriousness of it just a bit. Maybe that bipolar 1 diagnosis was a knee-jerk reaction to what the attending psychiatrist found in Dr. Awesomesauce’s notes, or maybe the fact that I “saw” cats in the ER prompted him to think I was crazier than I really am. I’ve read so many stories about people with BP 1 having these huge manic episodes in which they thought they were God or royalty, or hopped on a plane bound for Europe at the drop of a hat, or stripped off their clothes in the middle of a busy street. I’ve never done anything like that. How is it that I came to be lumped in with the really psychotic folks?
The fact that I am indeed bipolar is not in question. EVERYBODY agrees with that diagnosis. And obviously it’s much more important to treat the symptoms than a label (and Heaven knows I’m on a buttload of meds). But now that it’s been a few months since I was hospitalized—and time has blurred the memories of those days somewhat—the BP 1 designation seems a bit overblown, especially since it’s splashed indelibly all over my medical records,
Of course, someone will come along and tell me I’m in denial again, and who knows, I might be. I’ve been on a little upswing of late and the rose-colored glasses look pretty good on this late-middle-aged face. In fact, I feel more optimistic now than I have in over a year. It’s Spring, after all…..time for life to burst forth and make all things new. Maybe even me!