Archive for the ‘health’ Tag

The Diagnosis

Yes, it’s been a while.  I’ve been busy with stuff I never wanted to be busy with.  You all recall my expereinces with my (now) prior doctor- how she refused to treat anything I showed up with, and how she never showed me any respect.  It had been nearly 18 months since I had been in to see her, since the last interaction went so badly.  I finally decided to get copies of my medical records so I could find a new doctor.

Imagine my surprise in reading my chart that I have been pre-to-full-on diabetic for the better part of three years, and that my iron levels were dangerously low.  She never related anything about my blood sugar, and only talked about the anemia in passing, as if it wasn’t such a big deal.  Of course according to her, everything would magically resolve itself if only I would magically lose about 150 pounds.  We all know how well that went.

So I manage to find a doctor in town who is supposed to be a good person.  My first visit, she listens, asks a few questions, does some tests and says that we’re going to get to the bottom of this anemia thing because she’s like a dog with a bone.  I leave feeling like I finally have a real partner in fixing my health for a change.  She says they’ll call me next week with my test results.

Only they call me two days later saying I need to make an appointment to come in NOW to see her to discuss the results.  And I need to make an appointment with a gastroenterologist she’s referring me to right away also.  Warning bells are going off in my head- this does not sound good at all.  I ask the nurse to fax me the lab results, and they actually do it.

Now, I’m no doctor, and I don’t know the first thing about these lab numbers or what the acronyms mean.  So, Wikipedia here I come!  My iron is so low, at only 17, that it’s a wonder I’m functional at all.  No wonder I’ve been so exhausted and cloudy-minded lately!  My blood glucose is 128, fasting.  That could be high or high-normal depending on which scale you’re using.  I’m really more worried about the anemia problem at this point, having read about all sorts of disorders like bone marrow defects that can cause this level of anemia.  The rest of the causes point to a gastro-related issue, which I’m sure I don’t have, because everything seems pretty normal to me.

So I spend the weekend scaring myself to death with the lab results and Googling different diseases, waiting for Monday to arrive and my gastro and new doc appointments.

The gastro tells me they want to schedule both a colonoscopy and an upper endoscopy for the same day.   I try everything I can to get out of this, because the last thing I want to do is have scopes in both ends.  Even in one end.  Any end.  It’s all bad, bad, bad.  Yuck.  And the preparation you have to go through is no fun either.   The PA at the gastro clinic just shakes his head at me and acts like he’s seen all this before.  I’m only 39, I think to myself.  I shouldn’t have to do this for another 10 years.

So off to my new doc I go.  I tell her I’ve already seen the test results and that I’m concerned about the anemia.  She says I also have high cholesterol, which we’re going to treat with medication right away.  This was also another issue that the former doctor knew about but never bothered to treat.  Then the new doc says the anemia is treatable, she’s starting me on Slow Fe to get my iron levels up, but the gastro stuff must be checked out to find the root cause of the problem.  And then the bombshell.

I have diabetes, she says.  I’ve been fine up until now, not emotional, pretty clinical, listing other symptoms I’d forgotten to tell her about last week.  Now I start to tear up, and she hands me a tissue.  She says we caught it early.  With my BG over 126, that qualifies as diabetes, and I’ll likely have to deal with it for the rest of my life.  She says no medication for now, but she’s scheduling me with a dietician and they’ll get me started with a blood glucose meter.

Then I’m off to a City Council meeting in a daze.  My life has just changed, and I’m feeling a little numb.

Next time, the seven stages of grief…

Today’s Hospital Procedure

I had to stop eating by 12 midnight last night per doctor’s orders, even though I couldn’t eat another bite after dinner at 7pm.  A 6am check in time awaited me, mocked me, bullied me into not going to bed until well after 1am.  I couldn’t sleep.  When I did, it was fitful and light.  Getting up at 5:20, getting dressed in pseudo-pajamas/sweats, trying to make my hair look halfway decent and leaving the house sans makeup, wedding ring and any other jewelry are all things I just don’t do.  “You’d better not make fun of me,” I warned my bleary-eyed husband.  I recalled when he’d had his carpal tunnel surgeries last year, I got to see him “on drugs” before they wheeled him into the OR, and he was waving his arms around like he was having an acid trip at a Grateful Dead concert.  Since he’s the most straight-laced person I know, it was fun to witness.

We arrived at the hospital at just a few minutes after 6am.  The place was deserted.  I knocked on the registration counter to see if someone was around, and a woman from the Admitting cubicle prairie-dogged up and directed me over to her desk.  She checked my ID, insurance card and attached a plastic ID bracelet to my right wrist.  Off we went to the Procedures department.  “They’d better not be mean to me,” I told my Man.  I was sure someone would make some nasty comment about my weight, or something similar.

At the Procedures desk, I handed a nurse my admitting paperwork.  There were two neon green Post-It flags stuck to the desk that each read “Eggs!” “Eggs!”.  I never found out what this joke was about, but for some reason it made me feel better.  They took me into a procedure room right away- no preliminary waiting room first like my husband had last year.  There was a huge, red boom box set up on a counter, blaring the new Celine Dion CD.  I laughed at that.  My husband went over to see what other “musical selections” were available- Kenny G, Celtic Dreams, Romantic Classics- wow.  At least when my mom had her angioplasty last year, they played classic rock.  I didn’t say anything negative about the music to the nurse, in fact I made nice small talk about Celine and her plans post-Vegas.

I got to keep my clothes on, except for jacket and shoes, which was also a relief to me.  I was glad I’d chosen to wear a stretchy tank and loose yoga pants- they didn’t have any trouble getting under them to attach the sensor things on my chest and left side.  Then the blood pressure cuff and pulse-ox finger clip were applied.  Then the IV was started- that was the worst part of the whole thing.

The IV felt sharp at first, and I thought it was going to mellow out but it never did.  It just felt burning and sharp the whole time.  They taped it down really well, and it continued to bother me.  I asked my husband to be sure they took that thing out as soon as they could when we were finished.  It worked fine the whole time according to the staff, but it never felt right.  I didn’t want them to mess with it much either, because it really hurt.

By this time, they’d also put an oxygen line in my nose and were starting to bring other equipment into the room.  I felt trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey already, and then they showed me the size of the scope they would be using.  They showed me the bite guard I would have to wear, which wrapped around my head too- to protect my teeth and the scope.

All this stuff attached to me, I felt completely out of control and powerless to help myself.  It was a terrible feeling.  The staff had been kind so far, even with my complaining about the IV. I knew it annoyed them to no end, but they didn’t make me suffer for it, which was nice.  They did say my doctor tended to run late, and that also upset me.  The longer I laid there with that damned IV, the longer I had to feel vulnerable and uncomfortable.

The doctor arrived 15 minutes late, and they asked me to get on my left side.  I asked for a pillow to support my back, and it was brought right away.  My doc came in and asked how I was doing.  I just asked him to get this over with ASAP.  My husband told him I was anxious, and I told him to get the elephant tranquilizers and just get to work. The doc laughed, and they made my husband leave the room to sit in the waiting area.  The doc started injecting the sleepy drugs into my IV.  They really burned going in, and they kept telling me to breathe, breathe, breathe.  Then he injected a second drug, and I started feeling sleepy.   Then, I remember nothing until waking up.

I have no idea how long I was out.  I woke up in a different room, with my husband sitting in front of me.  He said it was over, and they would be taking the IV out in a few minutes.  I nodded off again, and then woke up when the nurse came in to remove the IV.  They were commenting on how it was raining again, after a few days of blue skies.  Someone started telling me they found two ulcers, did biopsies of each, and will send out for testing.  Results back in a week or two.  Doc says this might be the cause of some of my pain.  If it’s the “right” kind of bacteria, they can treat it with medicine.  Until then, double my dosage of Prilosec.

I fought to stay awake through this, and insisted on sitting up and getting dressed.  I put on my jacket and shoes with help from my Man (he’s such an angel, isn’t he?) and they brought a wheelchair around to take me out to the car.  I just wanted to sleep at home in my own bed, and I knew my Man needed to get to work.

We came home, and I went straight upstairs to bed.  Didn’t wake up again until my Man came home at lunch and presented me with a bowl of mac n’ cheese- comfort food.  I ate, fed the rest to the dog, and went back to sleep.  The kids came home from school and wanted to know how it went.  They were kind, interested and sympathetic, which surprised me for some reason.  I guess it’s because I grew up in a household where illness was treated as a character flaw, or as an outright lie.  You weren’t to be believed if you were sick.  This stems from my mom’s experience with my hypochondriac grandmother who was convinced she had the disease-of-the-week her whole life.

Anyway, I’m up now, out of bed having some tea to make my sore throat feel better, and blogging to you all.  I guess I’m most relieved to know the hospital staff on this occasion treated me with respect and kindness.  They were competent to my knowledge, and I didn’t feel disdain from anyone, including the doctor.

Now we await the test results and plans for any future procedures to get this gall bladder out of me.