Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Health update

I have been having issues of late with my energy (lack of), joint pain (especially in my fingers and knees), and general fatigue. I went to the doctor about a month ago - actually, it was my nurse practitioner - and she ran a plethora of blood tests. Practically everything came back within normal ranges, although several things (B12 and hematocrit, in particular) were barely at the bottom of "normal."

Those low scores are not new to me. I have pernicious anemia and must take monthly B12 shots and daily OTC iron, so those two numbers are never very high.

The NP said she thinks I have fibromyalgia, which upsets me. Not so much that I might have this disorder (well, okay, yes, I would be upset to have it), but more so that I feel like this was a rush to judgment on her part. I've always heard that a fibromyalgia diagnosis is reached sort of as a "last resort" type of diagnosis. You run tests and more tests, rule out this and that, and ultimately decide,'s not this disease or that disorder, so it must be fibromyalgia.

I don't feel like she did that with me. I feel ... well ... slighted, I guess. After I got my blood test results, I shared them on the low-carb forum I frequent. A person on the forum that I trust suggested that I need to take a closer look at the anemia-related test scores (B12 and hct), because they could well be a part of the fatigue and low energy. She also suggested that I get a ferritin test done, which would shows the current iron level in my blood.

So I faxed my NP's office and asked if we could up the amount of B12 or the frequency of the shots, and if we could do a ferritin (iron level) test. Her response (after 4 days) was to give me a prescription for 4 weekly B12 shots and a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. What??

Anyway, to update ... I will take my 3rd weekly B12 shot tomorrow. I have made a follow-up appointment, not with my NP (whom I've always been very happy with), but with the MD at that office, who is truly a wonderful doctor. He told Steve a couple years ago to eat a low-carb diet to help with weight loss and hypoglycemia. Plus, he is that rare breed of doctor who actually listens to his patients and takes time with them. Trouble is, he's nearing retirement age and I think he's lessened his patient load. I always say getting an appointment to see him is like getting an appointment to see the Queen of England.

Regardless, I do have an appointment to see him at the end of this month. I want to talk to him about my joint pain and the fatigue, and see what he recommends. I would like to get a cortisol test and more in-depth thyroid tests. I want to find out what kind of specialist I might need to see, if I do need to see one... And I want to know that he's not just blowing me off and that there is hope for me to really feel better.

In the meantime, I am taking 2-4 tablespoons of cod liver oil daily, and a bunch of other vitamins and supplements. I do feel a little better energy-wise, but certainly not anywhere near 100%

Also, my joints are still very messed up. The pain that started in my right index finger now seems to have progressed into most of my fingers. My hands feel very "tight" at the middle joint when I try to make a fist. My right index finger is now ever so slightly bent at the middle joint towards my middle finger. I am frequently unable to open jars or bottles. And lifting things, grocery bags, for example (where the weight is on my fingers) can be very painful. All of these are recent developments, and I am very concerned. I'm worried about rheumatoid arthritis, but the tests for rheumatoid factor and SED rate (which apparently is used as a marker for RA) came back within the normal limits. So I don't know what is going on ... but I need to find out. In doing some research on it, I found out that some people don't have elevated numbers in their blood test, but they still have RA ... I hope and pray I do not have RA. And while I'm at it, I'd rather not have fibromyalgia either ...

However, I do want to know, whatever it is. I'm much better when I know what I need to deal with. Then, I will get on with the business of dealing with it ... whatever it turns out to be.


Vikki said...

I can't wait to hear what your doctor has to say. My prayer is that he refers you to a wonderful specialist that will help you deal with whatever it is that's afflicting you. And I'm praying for answer, a very favorable answer at that.
May God bless you richly.

Patty said...

You are such a good friend, Vikki, and I AM blessed, by having you in my life. Thank you for the prayers; you're in mine as well.

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