Talk to the Hand and Other Acts of Rebellion

Talk to the hand cuz the face ain’t listening.

Rude, dismissive, and a popular punchline in 1990s comedies, talk to the hand can be a mantra for MS. Not necessarily to be said aloud, but as a meditative sound and image for those moments when your rage needs to chill.

New doc: “You are showing classic signs of drug-seeking behavior and you’ll get no narcotics in this practice.”

You, in your head: (Talk to the hand. I’ll go to doctors until I find one that wants to take me seriously.) However, in this hostile situation, physically positioning your hand so the doc’s face is obscured could help calm you. It would catch them off guard, too. That way you don’t have to struggle for words in a stressful situation. Your adversary is suddenly face-to-hand with your open palm and trying to process what it means, giving you a chance to slip out of the room without taking the doc’s head with you.

Little acts of rebellion can help us feel more in control. I’ve been poked, prodded, medicated, weighed, measured, scanned, sedated, and operated on so often that I’ve been thinking and writing more about boundaries and what we can do to maintain them. Here are some of my recent rebellious acts:

I no longer climb onto doctor office scales

Getting weighed is always a laborious and humiliating process. You’re there for a swollen gland or a medication review but whoa, first thing’s first. Gotta find out your BMI so they can lecture you to eat less and move more. In the past I took off all outer clothing and shoes before stepping onto the platform, all the while touching the wall so I wouldn’t lose my balance. I hated doing it. It’s physically hard and I hated that the scale always read higher than my morning weight. Then one day I had an epiphany. Just tell them what I weigh! I weigh myself at home first thing in the morning right out of bed and naked, after I pee and before I brush my teeth. So why not just tell them? What are they going to do, hoist me up with a block and tackle against my will? They don’t protest at all. But recently a new specialist’s nurse told me that she can’t record the numbers unless she does the measuring herself. It made me remember something that makes the whole thing ridiculous.

I thought of how many times I’d been to amusement parks where there is always a guy ready to guess your weight and age. Every time I bought a guess, the guy guessed both with total accuracy. Now, if a carnie can accurately guess a person’s weight just by looking at them, why in heaven’s name can’t a nurse?

I no longer pee in a cup

The last time I tried to produce a urine sample the conventional way I almost fell over. It’s getting ridiculous, trying to squat over a toilet with weak legs and bad balance (and no grab bars where you need them), trying to hold that cup in the right spot. But I have trouble getting things going, so the longer it takes, the weaker my legs get. Pretty soon I have to sit, and that makes it impossible to collect any kind of dribble in that stupid cup if I’m lucky enough to produce one. I’m not a wiz at self-cathing, either. I haven’t tried this yet, but the next time somebody asks for a urine sample I’ll tell them they will have to cath me. Either that or I’ll collect a sample at home beforehand. Enough already!

I could go on but I’m sure you all have your own moments of truth when you put your foot down and refused to follow the usual instructions. Do tell!

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