Friday, April 09, 2010

Health Update

I've been putting off this post for awhile now simply because I just didn't want to write it. Also, I really don't like talking about myself that much, but so many people have asked about what is going on with my health and this is really the best way to answer all those questions.
I'll just start from the beginning.
In October of last year, I came down with a really nasty upper respiratory infection. It was one of the worst viruses that I had encountered in some time and was really super sick for quite a while. At this time, I had a few lymph nodes that swelled up in my neck. When they didn't go away right away I made an appointment with the same set of physicians that Jes sees and made the trip there.
As a side story, Piper, at that time, was on some antibiotics for something, which all you moms know what that does to a little one's poop. Let's just suffice it to say that she decided to do her business just as we entered the exam room. Boy was it bad. Later on during the visit, a nurse came in and gagged. Nice. This was also the same visit where Caleb ran out of the exam room while they were drawing my blood. Luckily, a former student of mine who worked there walked by and caught him. I didn't think they would allow me back...
Ok, so Carol, my fab PA, examined me and determined that it must be the illness that I had just nearly gotten over that caused the lymph nodes to react as they did. I was to come back in a month.
At the next appointment, 2 of the 3 swollen nodes had gone down and the 3rd and shrunk some but not back to normal yet. I was to come back in 2 weeks.
When I returned the lymph node was still swollen and she thought I should go see a surgeon.
Surgeons are surgeons and they want to cut and that was the first thing he jumped to. I managed to hold him off for about 3 months before I saw Carol again where she was pretty outraged that he was going to just cut me right open and take it out.
During this same time, I developed a raging case of hives. I had never experienced this before and went in to see Carol. She gave me some allergy medicine and prednisone and told me to document everything that I came into contact with and I was to see her in a couple of weeks. We were both confident that I wouldn't have this again.
The course of prednisone that I was given was 6 days long. I woke up on the 6th day with hives worse than before and my lips so swollen I looked like a duck. I made a quick trip up to see Carol who upped my prednisone dramatically and gave me the number for an allergist.
As soon as I got home I called the allergist and was able, miraculously, to get in the very next day. Dr. B, as we'll call her, took one look at me and was instantly intrigued. We couldn't do any allergy testing because that requires one to be off all allergy medication and steroids for 7 straight days and I hadn't even made it 6 while on both meds. So, her best guess was that this might be a metabolic or autoimmune issue, since I do have significant family history for those.
After 9 (!) vials of blood I waited and waited and waited. About a week later as I pulled into Chipotle after a playdate I got the call I had been waiting for: I had autoimmune thyroid disease.
I returned to Carol and had some follow up blood work done and a sonogram done on my thyroid that week and waited to make an appointment with an endocrinologist.
When I got the name of who I was to go see, I called right away and was told I would have to wait over a month to get into the practice. After a stern talking to with the scheduler on the phone, an appointment just randomly opened up right before her eyes for the next week (can you hear the sarcasm?). Can you also tell why some health care professionals really don't like me? I just know how to work the system... It comes from working in it...
The endocrinologist took even more blood and we did what is called an uptake and scan over 2 days. Basically, I swallowed a low dose irradiated iodine pill and the next day my thyroid was scanned to determine how much iodine my thyroid took up. A high number would be diagnostic for Graves Disease and a low number would be diagnostic for thyroiditis. We were obviously hoping for a low number.
High normal for this test is 25. My number was 37. They don't diagnose Graves until you are around 80, 90, or 100. So, we decided to wait it out. This was my worst fear because now I have hives, every day, and all the other symptoms that are coming along with it as well. None of this is impairing my life, but it sure is bothersome.
The lymph node issue continues to persist and the ENT that I saw, after the debacle with the surgeon, felt that I needed to have an image taken of it to see what it looked like. The issue with this is that they want to use contrast, which for a person with documented allergies (check) and a heart condition (check) should not use it.
As a side note, throughout this whole time going from doctor to doctor I was told on more than one occasion that I probably had cancer. To be frank, I was terrified. Many hours of lost sleep came because of these flippant remarks by various doctors. This ENT was the first to tell me that he was confident that I did not, in fact, have cancer. He made this determination after a very thorough examination, so it was not, like the other comments, made after no exam.
I went to have the MRI last week, without contrast, and they wouldn't do it because they couldn't prove that I wasn't pregnant. Even though I took a pregnancy test right in front of them. And it was negative.
So, at this point, we are waiting on the thyroid stuff to get worse or my appointment to come up again (May) and to schedule a MRI for the lymph node issue.
That's about where it all stands now.

No comments: