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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!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Julie
    2 years ago

    Sadly, we are the ones that have to be the advocate. No one else is going to be able to tell the doctor/nurse what is going on and what we like to have answered. I have gone through several neurologists in my 17 years of dealing with MS. People are always amazed at this but they will never understand my need to have someone who really listens to me. How does one go about finding a doctor who will listen to us and not just go by what the latest MRI results show? Listen to what we are saying instead of nodding and type into their computer? Sorry, this is something I’m dealing with right now and it’s difficult to justify finding another neurologist and start all over.
    Good health to all. Julie

  • potter
    2 years ago

    I hate peeing in a cup, I got very little in the cup most of it on my hand. When I was having trouble with UTI’s it would take two test before it would show a positive result. I am so glad I figured out how to keep the UTi’s away.

  • Stephanie
    2 years ago

    I HATE getting on the scale at the doctors office!! It’s always 1-2 pounds different than my scale at home!! Frustrating!!

  • Polifax
    2 years ago

    Hi Kim. I don’t usually do such a great job standing up for myself. Normally I would just change doctors without saying anything. However my MS experience has made me more able to help others in medical situations and I am thankful for that. For example my adult son was recently in a bad accident and stayed for a week in the hospital. He called me crying that his veins kept blowing out and the nurse was insisting on giving him IV potassium (which he didn’t need the notes just hadn’t been entered in his chart yet). I had to explain to him that he has the right to refuse treatment. He told the nurse that and she refused to listen. So I called the charge nurse and she immediately removed it. I guess I need to improve my self advocacy.

  • Kim Dolce moderator author
    2 years ago

    Polifax, thank you so much for sharing those experiences. I can understand why it would be easier to advocate for a loved one. I suspect self-advocacy is hard for most people, it certainly is for me. It’s stressful at a time when we are not well and not in the mood to keep our guns cocked in case of a show-down. That takes adrenaline and self-control, two things at odds with each other. At any rate, you’ve given me an idea for another article. Thanks again for your comments, I know others will relate to them. –Kim

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