I haven’t posted in quite a while. I wanted to blog about my doctor’s visit. I wrote the post, saved it, sat on it…I thought about waiting until I found out for sure what’s going on…I don’t want this blog to turn into an account of my health woes. But hopefully this will all be over soon, one way or another. This is a big part of my life now and I feel the need to talk about it.
I had an appointment scheduled for Thursday, the 23rd of July, but 2 days prior, I received a letter cancelling it. I’d been waiting 3 weeks for this appointment. Well, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I’d been thinking about switching to another GP, Dr. C, in the practice anyway, and this cancellation forced me to do just that. Fortunately, I was able to get in on Monday.
I started with my ears: I told him that my ears were still hurting and I could feel and hear fluid crackling in one of them. He had a peek and said there isn’t an infection, but there is fluid, which is putting pressure on the ear drums. He told me to take my corticosteroid nasal spray.
I briefly ran through the story of my pelvic pain, and told him that it’s getting worse and changing. Then I started firing symptoms at him. I don’t think I was thinking clearly; I was so desperate to get it all out, to get him updated on what’s been happening, and I’d hung so much hope on that visit. He listened patiently with an amused and interested smile.
To make a very long story short, he feels most of this stuff is linked to one problem. He doesn’t want to speculate on the separate symptoms at this point. He said it’s still too early to decide whether the pelvic pain is endometriosis or not, but it doesn’t sound as though it is. He’s referred me to an ear, nose, and throat specialist for my hoarse throat, and he’s ordered some blood tests. Different blood tests. He feels my problem is muscular/skeletal in nature. I asked him what these blood tests were for. He said they’re check for specific types of inflammation, Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, and a few other things (all of these are auto-immune disorders). Of all of them, my symptoms most closely match those of Sjogren’s. Actually, all of my symptoms are in this list.
But I’ve learned a lot throughout this whole thing. And one of those gems is that you can look at the symptom list for an illness, have nearly every one of the symptoms, but not have that illness. You may be convinced you do, sure you’ve finally found what’s ailing you…but it’s not the one. I’ve looked at about 30 different illnesses over the past few months, and matched up perfectly with about 3 or 4 of them…but I don’t have any of those illnesses.
Usually Sjogren’s doesn’t cause many problems for people; many people are walking around with it and don’t even realise it. They have a bit of dry eyes and mouth, and nothing else. But for some, it’s not a nice disease to have, and people with Sjogren’s have an 18 times higher risk of developing lymphoma (what a coincidence; lymphoma was one of the diseases I was worried about…and my father has it).
I wish I had gone to Dr. C from the beginning. He was amazing. He asked me some really poignant questions such as ‘what if we can’t find anything?’ and ‘What do you think it might be?’ and ‘Are you fed up?’ and ‘Are you depressed?’ These were not asked in doctor-speak with a poker face. They were asked with such sensitivity and such caring, I had to fight back my tears. He then asked me the one question which choked me up the most: ‘What is it you’re looking for?’ I said: ‘Answers. I don’t want pain medication, I don’t want symptom relief. I want to know what’s wrong and fix it.’ And he said, ‘in other words, you want a cure.’ Exactly.
But my outlook on all of this has changed drastically. Prior to a few days ago, I was desperate to find out what’s wrong. I knew something was wrong and that it was just a matter of finding it. But after speaking to a family friend, who’s a doctor, that’s all changed. She’s assured me that as long as these tests are normal, coupled with my normal CRP, there isn’t anything sinister going on…and everything can be attributed to stress and anxiety.
So, now I don’t want to find anything. I’m praying all my results will be normal. Then I just need to try to relax. But not too much. One of the things I need to do is exercise and keep busy and active; I need to stop acting like a sick person and get on with my life (which I’m trying to do, but some days are hard).
My appointment was at 5:40. It was a double appointment and the last one of the day for Dr.C. He spent an hour with me, and not once did he rush me. He let me babble on and on and then asked me more questions. He even chatted with me about things not directly related to why I was there. For the first time since this whole ordeal began, I actually felt properly looked after by a doctor in that surgery.
I get the results of my blood tests on August 10th. I may not find a cure for whatever this is; I may not even find an illness. But at least I’ve found a doctor that cares.