Two and a half years later...

Some of you might remember my small contention with Alberta Health Services and the ridiculous wait time that patients were having to endure to get into the Chronic Pain Clinic in Calgary (cue pause for irony). Well, last week my time came. I rolled down to Calgary on a winged, golden chariot (Okay, it was a Greyhound), as angel feathers floated from the sky (it was a snow storm really), during perfectly reasonable weather (which was actually -40 and my eyelids froze shut several times). I was beyond excited. Years of cynicism finally gave way to the sheer excitement that I was finally going to be speaking to people that could help me.

It didn't go according to plan. To start with, the weather was so awful in Calgary (remember, this is Canada we're talking about, and better yet, Alberta. In the dead of winter. I shouldn't have to say much more.) So my lovely "Significant other" and myself ordered the cab for the hotel the night before and gave ourselves lots of time just in case something went terribly wrong. I think you can see where I'm going with this. In case you can't stand the suspense, no, the cab didn't show up, and yes, we did have to walk the half hour in -40 in the dark (because my appointment was bright and early at 8:30 in the morning.) It was a thrilling experience, but fortunately the sheer panic of the situation boiled my blood enough that I didn't feel the cold. And once I defrosted and they sewed my blackened toes back on I felt practically human!

Alex, le boyfriend (I get excited because I can say that even though we've been going out for quite a while now. 10 months on the day of my appointment actually.) came to all the different aspects of the appointment with me. We began with a meet and greet with the doctor, the nurse, the psychologist, and the physio, and I was essentially put through the ringer as they asked every conceivable question (ending just prior to a list of my fears, which the psychologist covered in a later session anyway.) Apparently I garnered some level of enthusiasm from them as they went over past questionnaires where they discovered in a "Do you have any other comments for us?" section, I happened to have written "I find Kiefer Sutherland to be quite attractive." This was two years ago, so I must have been in a 24 phase.

They left no stone unturned, for which I suppose I ought to be grateful. Following this they reconvened to talk about me roughly two feet away in low, suspicious hushed whispered (Just kidding, it was loud and involved a lot of boisterous laughing). The doctor and the physiotherapist returned and did the traditional poke-and-prod examination. I must admit, I was impressed that when I mentioned my carpal tunnel, the doctor also looked over both my wrists to ensure there was nothing too drastic going on there.

Moving on to the psychologist, this was the point I'm fairly certain Alex would have liked to have been somewhere else, namely because we had a bit of a (huge, monumental, earthshattering piss-fest) fight a couple days before, and while of course we're both at fault, I know what fuels my own issues, and he was sitting there listening to me telling this total stranger... I imagine it must have been odd, but he held my hand the whole time, and not once did I get the impression that he was scanning the room for potential exits (Except for that moment where he dashed for the door and started pounding his fists on it, screaming that he would tell them everything. I can't be certain but I think it might have been some form of 'Nam flashback.) Not surprisingly, Mike (my dad, who has been now reduced to first name basis) came up as a major contention. His lack of support and presence through the whole experience has always been, and I imagine always will be an issue for me. But whatever, this isn't about him.

Finally we all gathered back in the office where I was informed that there were some seminars I could go to and... Wait... What? No... Oh, no, no, no. Hah, no, no, no. No. Just... Just no. Let me stop you right there...

The part where I started crying was not long after this when they told me that they weren't sure what I was expecting (Because no one effing tells you what they do at the effing pain clinic!) but they deal primarily in pain management, not pain solutions. There is nothing that can be done save for either a) medical intervention (Eff no) or b) medicinal pain management. But what they can offer are these handy courses where I can meet people just like me.

I didn't say it then but I was certainly thinking it. Kids, I will never meet anyone like me.

So all in all it was a total and utter waste of two and a half years and if anyone ever asks me why I have no expectations in my life I will direct them towards this experience. In May I'll be in Calgary for 2 weeks while I go through an intensive one-seminar-a-day-course-thing wherein I "Get to know my pain" and "Adapt to living with my pain" and "Learn to sleep with my pain" and "Learn how to poke sticks in my eye with my pain". I'm hoping there will also be a "Sarcasm and my pain" course, but I think that one is only offered during the winter course.

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